Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Tenth Circle/ Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult's story is a metaphor for Dante's levels of hell in the Inferno. It is about a stay-at-home father who is a comic book illustrator. The comic book he is working on is about a father who loses his daughter, and will do anything (including losing his soul) to save her. The mother teaches Dante's Inferno at a local college, where she also has an affair.

The story really begins with the rape of their fourteen-year-old daughter at a party. The issues surrounding the rape deepen the daughter's depression and withdrawal into herself. The family must reconnect in an honest way if they are to save her.

The tenth circle of hell is reserved for people who lie to themselves.

I loved this book. It is so well-researched. The portrayal of a teenager's life is shocking and honest. Jodi Picoult researched an Eskimo tribe and its village for much of the backdrop. This adds a beautiful layer to the story. And of course this reads like a mini-course of Dante's Inferno.

I loved the writing. The characters were all well-developed, including the secondary ones. The plot felt realistic. The people were real. It doesn't end on a hopeful note, but neither is this story a tragedy.

I highly recommend it!! (Angelle, over to you!)

P.S. I include two covers of this story. The one with the legs is the book sold in the U.S. The one with the girl's face is the one I bought here in Dubai-it's the UK version. The cover is why I picked it up.


angelle said...


Yeah, I HATED this book. Which was such a disappointment considering I had LOVED My Sister's Keeper and decently enjoyed Vanishing Act and Mercy.

I had several problems with the book. First of all, I actually thought the plot was sort of thin. It didn't feel authentic to me, and not well executed. It felt like she'd been told by her editor she needed to churn out her next book ASAP, so she just threw something haphazardly together. It didn't feel tight or well thought out to me. Maybe thin isn't the right word - maybe just unbelievable.

I was also really squeamish by the sex party things, but that shoudln't reflect on the book itself, I suppose.

The comic book thing to me was like.. okay, that's interesting, but WHY? It never paid off for me that he was a comic book writer. Neither did the comic strips.

The affair the mother had was strange. And at some point (i can't remember exactly now), you find out her... guy (why is there no male word for mistress?) is indirectly involved with the whole thing with her daughter right? But somewhere in editing or writing or something, she misses an entire chunk of a scene that I really needed where this is revealed to her in an important way, and she never has the fallout reaction I kept waiting for.

The whole thing was actually DIFFICULT for me to get through after awhile, because it felt so badly edited and put together, and the premise sprawled around and never came together for me. And it's not like her writing quality is quirky or lyrical or beautiful enough to stand on its own despite the flaws.

I haven't picked up a Jodi Picoult novel since I read this book. I was so incredibly disillusioned. I felt like she'd like.. done the Nicholas Sparks route and sold out in this novel.

ChristineEldin said...

Damn! That's a lotta reasons! Good ones too.

You know, I do agree with you about the whole thing with the affair. I felt there was a revelation that needed to happen, much more explanation, etc. What you said. The editor dropped the ball on that one.

The sex party and the other teenage stuff felt authentic to me. Unfortunately. I don't know how or when this kind of craziness happened, but it was a good eye-opener for me. I don't want to be that naive with my own children, who won't be teenagers for a while. But got an email from their elementary school teacher about drugs disguised as candy pop rocks and I just have no clue about some things these days.

But, well, (still loved it!)

You liked My Sister's Keeper? I was going to read that next.

angelle said...

i LOVED my sister's keeper - it was also the first picoult novel i picked up. for awhile it was only my list of top 10 favorite books. i just liked the issue, and liked her use of multiple povs. but i have one bone to pick with the book... but i'll let you read it and then we can discuss :)

Cheryl said...

Sounds like this book as a lot of elements--comic books, affairs, Eskimos. Strange.

I thought My Sister's Keeper was okay, but didn't love it. I'm guessing I won't be a fan of this one if it's not better than Keeper.

Cool covers though :)