Friday, August 5, 2011

The Lovely Bones

the Book
The Lovely Bones
Written by Alice Sebold in 2002
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ Struggled to finish it.

What it's about:  

At the young age of 14, Susie Salmon is brutally raped and murdered by a serial killer, masquerading as a caring neighbor, in her small suburban community.  Now stuck in an alternate world, she looks on as her family, friends, and even killer continue life without her.

Susie must learn to cope as her “heaven” is continually disturbed by the desire of a life that she was unable to experience, a fact that is even more rancorous as her killer roams free.  As she helplessly watches the life of her family crumble, unable to change the outcome, she is compelled to do what she 
wishes for them: to move on. 

Why we didn't care for it: 

Although the idea of the story was solid, the execution was mediocre.  Alice Sebold is certainly an imaginative story-teller, but not a fine writer.  This book begins well then starts to lose momentum, becoming contrived and boring.  Sebold bounces around a lot and adds plenty of uninteresting components that cause the story to drag on.

(SPOILER ALERT) Sebold also forces the story along in an unnatural way that makes the story less believable. For instance, throughout the novel, Susie is unable to control many important aspects of the real world, and can only appear in uncontrolled glimpses to people.  However, Ruth (Susie's school acquaintance, who develops an obsession with Susie after her death) eventually allows Susie to use her body to have sex with Ray (the boy she had a crush on before she died). The fact that Sebold allows Susie to "fall to earth" for an anti-climatic, incredulous sex scene was entirely ineffective and overly planned.

The Lovely Bones (2009) (PG-13)
Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg,  Rachel Weisz
Rating: ★★★☆☆ So-so 

Differences between the movie and book: 

As with most films, this movie adds its own spin to Sebold's novel, but still uses the backbone of the story.  A noticeable difference is the time progression - events in the book spanned over several years, while in the movie, they occurred during several months.  The movie also put Susie's memories in chronological order instead of random disorder, as in the book.   

Why we weren't impressed:

We liked the movie because it focused on the interesting elements of Sebold's story and left out the mundane aspects.  This allowed us to experience the truly creative and imaginative side of Sebold's work without being bogged down by aimless rambling.

However, there are still some major drawbacks of the movie.  For instance, Susie's heaven is full of lame computer generated images that are more ridiculous than appealing - as if Lisa Frank, herself, created it.  Cheesy, is the simplest word to describe it. 

Another downside is the age difference of the main actress.  Susie (played by Saoirse Ronan) appears significantly younger than her schoolmates Ruth and Ray, and even her supposedly younger sister, Lindsey (played by Rose McIver).

Overall we suggest you don't waste your time on either the book or the movie.  Instead, read this blog and send your suggestions for future books and movies!

Up Next . . . The Help

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