The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Synopsis (from back of book):
On her way home from school on a snowy December
day, 14-year-old Susie Salmon is lured into a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold’s debut novel, unfolds from heaven, where “life is a perpetual yesterday” and where Susie narrates and keeps watch over her grieving family and friends, as well as her brazen killer and the sad detective working on her case.

The front cover of The Time Traveler’s Wife reads “This is the next The Lovely Bones,” but if I’d read this one first, I never would have read the other and would then have missed out on a fantastic read. To be frank, I didn’t enjoy this book at all. I got incredibly angry at the stupidity of a 14-year-old girl who would allow herself to be drawn into such an obviously dangerous position. Even being set in the 70’s, it was the decade that The Yorkshire Ripper on the rampage in Britain, it’s hard to believe that over in America people didn’t take notice of what could happen.

Yes, I know that’s not terribly PC of me, but it’s how I felt reading it. I think perhaps I would have been able to get on better with the storyline if she’d been dragged, kicking and screaming into that underground room. Nobody deserves to get raped and murdered, but I couldn’t help but feel that she’d brought a lot of it on herself and that meant I was now feeling guilty too.

The other thing that I really thought was just a tad twee was the whole heaven thing. I just couldn’t get into the flow of the heavens as they were described. Now, I’m not saying I don’t think there’s anything after death; I’m not even saying I don’t think we all get our own personalized afterlife; I’m saying I just couldn’t get on board with the way this was written.

And then there’s the fact that, as the reader, you know exactly who the murderer is. The ghost of Susie, telling her story, knows exactly who her murderer is. Even her family knows exactly who her murderer is. The whole book is spent wondering when, if ever, the guilty man will be charged.

I found this book deeply disappointing from start to finish and I’ll admit to being relieved to finish it. In my opinion, there’s not really anything lovely about The Lovely Bones. I found nothing to recommend it.

Sorry, but I won’t be reading anything else Ms Sebold writes.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

  1. I wish I had enjoyed ‘The Lovely Bones’ but I did not. At times I found it to be quite pointless. A very empty story.

  2. kell1976

    I’m glad I’m not the only one – most people seem to rave about this book, but i didn’t enjoy a single second of it!

  3. bookchronicle

    “To be frank, I didn’t enjoy this book at all. I got incredibly angry at the stupidity of a 14-year-old girl who would allow herself to be drawn into such an obviously dangerous position.”

    Victim blame much?

  4. Not at all – I have nothing but the deepest sympathy for fellow rape victims. It was more to do with Sebold’s decision to write in that particular way that had me angry at the way she had written the character. I didn’t like her style at all and found many aspects of the plot seriously lacking in any kind of relevant point, especially the end of the novel and Susie’s reason for returning.

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