NYRB Classics collector. Reads anything, so long as it's good. Sometimes historian. Frequently grumpy: you've been warned. Also at aliceunderskies.tumblr.com.
It's been a long time since I've read such a thoroughly horrible book. I'd give this zero stars if I could. It was pure dreck, through and through, and I seriously resent the time I spent with it. Every single character is unremittingly miserable and unpleasant--there is not a single character who inspires any spark of affection. The motivations for their constant destructive actions are so cliched as to be actually inexplicable, and as if that weren't enough the absurd ending leeches any possible meaning from it all. Really I think the only explanation is that Picoult is a raging nihilist masquerading as a thoughtful Issues writer. I know this was written for book groups--my bookstore job suggests that that's her primary readership--but she notches everything up to such a level of misery and indecision that nothing means anything. Except I don't think the nihilism is at all intentional so--what IS the point? There is none, I think, and that is a serious flaw in an Issues novel--it has to have a point because nothing in the plot, characters, or quality of the writing make it worth reading otherwise.