Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

I just read Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult with my esteemed colleague, MB.  

Nineteen Minutes was about a Columbine-like high school shooting and the aftermath.  The book was written non-chronologically; the book goes back and forth (alternating chapters) between present day and flash-back.

In the book, a 17 year old high school student, Peter Houghton, was bullied by "popular" students ever since he started school.  Josie Cormier used to his best friend as a kid but as she got older, she chose popularity over Peter.  After another bullying incident (one in which we don't find out about until the end of the book), Peter is driven over the edge and resorts to violence to resolve his bullying problem.

(1)  Jodi Picoult is a competent writer with respect to usage.

(2)  The beginning was compelling.

(1) The book was corny.  All the characters were caricatures.  I felt like I was seeing this world through the eyes of someone who has no idea how real people act or think.  Her picture of high school is horribly skewed; high school does not look like this. 

(2)  None of the characters were likable.  All the characters were selfish and flippant towards everyone.  I was confused about who I should root for.  Peter, the high school shooter?  Josie, the suicidal, selfish and self-righteous girl who kept her emotionally unstable mother at bay?  Alex, the insecure judge who was more concerned about other people liking her?  Patrick, the cop who gave egregiously inappropriate responses to people from the shooting?  

(3)  All the characters were essentially the same.  They struggled with the same insecurities and they viewed the world in essentially the same way.  The only characters that were different were the bullies and they were so two-dimensional that I could slice bread with them.

(4)  The pacing of the book was horrible.  It was good for the first 100 pages and then it dragged for the rest of the book.


(6)  There were loose ended plot points that she never picked up again.

(7)  There were too many teen issues addressed at the same time.

(8)  The list could go on but I don't want to think about this book anymore.

I do not recommend this book--not even just a little bit.  I think that the topic of school shootings is a pretty serious thing and the story seemed to say that the shooter was a victim and we should feel sorry for them.  And that makes me want to puke.  The writing usage was competent but almost every facet of the the story was horrible.

...and then I found two bucks.

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