Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Storyteller

The Storyteller
by Jodi Picoult

Genre:  Fiction
Pages:  460
Published:   2/26/13 by Atria books
Format:  book

My rating:
3.5 out of 5 stars

I would give this book 3.5 stars. If it was written by a different author, I probably would have given in 4 stars. But after reading many of Jodi Picoult's books, I'm starting to get extra critical about her writing style.

I was a fan of several of Picoult's early books. But once you have read more than a couple, you quickly realize how formulaic and predictable her books are: written in alternating points of views (and fonts), about a controversial issue, and with a big twist at the end that is never really all that surprising once you have read a couple of her books and know to expect it.

At the same time, Picoult can tell a good story. She can keep you turning pages. I always enjoy reading her books. But I get frustrated because I feel there is great potential for all of her books to be better than they are. She seems to release a new book every year, and I think she would benefit by writing less books and spending more time creating greater quality.

So here are my thoughts on Picoult's lastest book, The Storyteller.

What I liked:
-Part Two, which told about Minka's experience in concentration camps during the Holocaust, was excellent. I have read many different fictional stories about the Holocaust, and the stories never get any easier to read. Picoult's account is unflinching and painful to read, yet you can't turn away from it.
-I liked the "controversial issue" in this book about forgiveness. It asks some good questions and provides some thought provoking scenarios. Are some crimes beyond the realm of forgiveness? If we choose to hate the criminal, are we then just the same as the criminal who chose to hate when the crime was committed?

What was okay:
-Minka's fictional story that was spread throughout the book. At first, I thought it was unnecessary and the metaphor to the Holocaust was too forced. But then the story played into the plot of the novel, and it made more sense.
-the modern day characters of Leo and Sage. I didn't love their part of the story, but I didn't hate it either. The strength of this novel was definitely Minka's life and experiences.

What I didn't like:
-Sage's sisters were named Saffron and Pepper (they were all the daughters of a baker). This is just awful.
-The twist at the end. I knew it was coming, and I knew what it was going to be, but I just didn't get it. I didn't think this particular twist was necessary at all for the story. There was enough conflict and climax leading up to the end, why throw something ELSE at the end that is supposed to surprise us but really doesn't surprise us at all!  With Picoult's track record, a much more surprising twist would have been for there to be no twist at all in the final pages.
-there were some unbelievable coincidences in how this story came together, namely how Josef came to meet Sage. At first I was annoyed because it seemed completely unbelievable, but then more is revealed that maybe it was more structured than random chance. But I didn't feel like this was explained enough and left me questioning Josef's true motivations. Perhaps this was purposeful, but I would have liked a little more clarity here.

To summarize, I did enjoy reading this story in the way that I usually enjoy reading Picoult's work. If you have never read Picoult before and don't have my critical eye pointed at her, then you may find this book more satisfying than I did! I do think it is worth taking the time to read. 

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