Monday, March 01, 2010

Book 51: Vanishing Acts

Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

I've read two other Picoult novels, probably her two most famous ones (The Pact and My Sister's Keeper), so I chose this based on a review that was featured on Pajiba a while back. The writing is somewhat cliche as usual, and very much about the sacrifices a parent will make for their child. As someone who has no children and never wants children, I'm surprised that I keep reading her novels. There is also other stuff going on, but Picoult's novels all revolve around family drama and court room drama and this one is no different. While all her novels seem to follow similar themes and even plot structures, they aren't boring. In fact, I started reading this on the stairmaster at the gym, and it definitely made the hour fly by - every other book I've taken to the gym so far before this, I have ended up putting down at some point because I got tired of holding it or just needed a break to refocus. However, I would say that all her novels end up being just a little bit longer than they need to be.

As usual, there is a cast of characters, all of whom get their say and views represented in the novel. There is Delia Hopkins, a search and rescue worker with a five year old daughter Sophie, her fiance Eric, an alcoholic, Fitz, her best friend that completed their childhood trio and has been in love with Delia as long as Eric, and Andrew Hopkins, her single father. In the first few chapters, Delia mentions a dream that triggered an odd memory, and Fitz does some online research that accidentally sets a chain of events into motion. Less than fifty pages into it, the police are at Delia's doorstep, and her life is in an uproar.

The novel's setting moves to Arizona where Delia's father awaits his trial. As usual, there is a twist at the end, though this didn't seem like that shocking of a revelation considering. Since it was set in Arizona, Picoult also started adding random Native American mysticism and characters to it, and it seemed like Picoult felt like she should add them because the novel was set in the Southwest. I don't think it added anything to the story. In fact, while I enjoyed the novel as a beach read, I felt like Delia was overreacting maybe a little bit. It just seemed like the stuff she was freaking out about wasn't as big of a deal as she was making it.

Like M. Night Shyamalan, Picoult always has a twist in her novels, and this is part of the reason they occasionally seem too long for me. At some point, there's only so much set up I need before I just want to know what the damn twist is going to be.

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