23 July 2010 ~ 0 Comments

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

First, I must admit that I’m a fan of Picoult. I enjoy her writing and her stories. They can be a little formulaic, but I always feel like I learn something and I’m almost always surprised by the ending. It’s her thing. It’s what she does and she does it well.

Until now.

It pains to me to say this, but WHAT THE HECK? I’m not even going to get into the ending, or lack thereof. But she gave away her ace in the hole, the surprise, the “wow” moment through most of the book. The reader already knows what’s happened, it’s painfully obvious and the characters even tell us what happened.

So…. what’s left? We’re reading about a kid with Asperger’s, who seems to have every single symptom under the sun. It’s overdone. I feel like she did her research – most definitely, but it didn’t seem realistic.

Here’s the thing. She kind of broke out of her formula and I’m all for that. I like the idea of her doing something different, but instead of going in a different directly she just gave us the surprise early and we’re left with this “eh”. It felt like she reached her word count and looked at where she was and said “okay, good enough.”

Well, no. it’s not “good enough”. In an interview she was asked about the ending and she replied “Because at heart, this is Jacob’s book. And remember, to Jacob, there was never any real mystery here, was there?” but she’s missing that this book wasn’t JUST told from Jacob’s point of view. She’s missing that I don’t care, as the reader, what Jacob’s mystery was or was not. Heck, I even knew the mystery 1/4 of the way in. I want to know what happened next. It wasn’t even a cliffhanger. It was just a period. I kept going back and forward trying to figure out if I missed a page or if pages fell away or what happened.

Sadly, I’m disappointed in this one. The writing was good, she did a fairly good job of keeping the voices distinct, but the ending and the early reveal just killed this one for me.

If you are a die-hard Picoult fan or have a child with Asperger’s in your life (and I’d love to know if her portrayal is accurate), read this one. Otherwise, sadly, I must say to skip it.

One of America’s most popular authors, Jodi Picoult has earned a reputation for crafting riveting, topical fiction. In House Rules she examines how being different can have dire consequences. Teenager Jacob Hunt has Asperger’s syndrome. A forensic science wizard,
he follows his scanner to show up at crime scenes and give law enforcement officials his advice. But when his tutor is found dead, he becomes a suspect. Suddenly, his Asperger’s traits—not looking people in the eye, tics and twitches—look more like guilt in the view of police.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Book count for 2010: 52

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