Monday, June 2, 2008
There in the midst of it so alive and alone / words support like bone
It's obvious that Mercy is one of Jodi Picoult's earlier novels. It doesn't have her characteristic twist, and the characters aren't quite as developed as they are in her later works. But Mercy does fit her formula well: timely, complicated issues; alternating perspectives; a trial at the end to wind things up. As I've said before, Picoult is the comfort food of books -- just what you need every once in a while.
I don't normally comment on books I didn't finish, but since I made it through a good 300 pages of Michael Gruber's The Book of Air and Shadows, I thought it would be fair to say why I gave it up. First, it felt to me like Gruber was working way too hard to write something physically heavy: Too many digressions, most of which were relevant but also could have been pared down considerably, and much too much of the "primary source" material, which was unbearable to read. For an authentic primary source, I'll fight my way through the strange spellings and whatnot, but for fiction? And especially for a fictional primary source that, as part of the plot, already had to be transcribed once from an early style of writing, just transfer it to modern English already. The story itself was interesting but a little too much in line with The DaVinci Code and the millions of others like it -- it's been done.