Within the first chapter of the book, The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, the reader knows when Susie Salmon was killed, where Susie Salmon was killed, and who killed Susie Salmon. Nothing about her death is up for debate to the reader. However, Susie’s family is not granted the same luxury of knowing this vital information. The search on earth for Susie’s body stretches out for a painful eight months, and her killer is never found. The plot revolves around a forever-fourteen-year-old Susie, who watches her family devotedly from heaven. She watches them for fourteen years, every year burning her with opportunities she would never have the joy of experiencing. The stark comparison between herself and her younger sister shows the reader every single chance that as ripped away from Susie on that fateful December afternoon. For fourteen years, neither Susie nor her family is able to let go of one another, which prevents them from moving on to better days.
When there is no question about who, how, or why someone was killed, a compelling story is needed to push the plot along, and, as a reader, a compelling story is not what is delivered in Sebold’s book. It is neither a mystery novel, nor a fiction thriller, but rather an unsuccessful hybrid in which neither is done correctly. It attempts at being a race-paced novel when Susie’s killer flees the quiet, suburban hometown, but inevitably fails because the narration comes from Susie, who is looking down at the world from a timeless heaven. The novel cannot be a murder mystery, because, within the first twenty pages, the reader knows who committed the crime. However heartfelt it may be, the plot simply is not captivating enough for me to want to finish the book.
I would not recommend this book to someone looking for an irresistible murder mystery, or anything of that family. This book is a drama-filled excuse of a thriller and, though the emotion portrayed is real, there is simply too much of it. At any given point, it is hard if not impossible to connect to the characters and merely a waste of a read.