Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review: Lone Wolf

Book Review: Lone Wolf  by Jodi Picoult

Things to know up front...

Recommended to: Picoult fans, fans of good 'ole adult fiction

Rating: 6/10

Content:
  • Frequent profanity
  • No drug use
  • Not much violence. Two characters get into a car crash, but it isn't really described. One character is extremely involved with wolves, so some descriptions of bloody carcasses may rub the squeamish the wrong way.
  • Little sexual content. One character describes a sexual experience with his wife, but it lasts for maybe a half a page and doesn't go into grueling detail. A character recalls walking in on a couple having sex, but nothing is described.
Description (not mine, for once): On an icy winter night, a terrible accident forces a family divided to come together and make a fateful decision. Cara, once protected by her father, Luke, is tormented by a secret that nobody knows. Her brother, Edward, has secrets of his own. He has kept them hidden, but now they may come to light, and if they do, Cara will be devastated. Their mother, Georgie, was never able to compete with her ex-husband’s obsessions, and now, his fate hangs in the balance and in the hands of her children. With conflicting motivations and emotions, what will this family decide? And will they be able to live with that decision, after the truth has been revealed? What happens when the hope that should sustain a family is the very thing tearing it apart?

Lone Wolf. I'm struggling on how to even approach describing this book, so I'll stick with a very handy, albeit unfortunate, adjective: disappointing. Luckily for this review and you, I can actually pinpoint what made this particular novel so bleh. 

The premise of the story is interesting enough: a family torn apart by the obsession and aloofness of one member due to--not the traditional drinking, drugs, gambling, etc.--but wolves. Not only does this lead to some very admirably written conflicts, but also a couple very well-executed characters, as well as a wealth of information about wolves that you may not have known, and if you're like me, you will love it. 

Unfortunately, these things weren't quite enough to carry the novel as a whole. Luke's interest in wolves was an original idea, but despite a whole narrative used to force his love and dedication to his work on you, he's a very tricky character to empathize with. In fact, many of the characters, Edward and Joe (Georgie's new husband), were not easy to really and truly feel for, which I would say is usually one of the defining characteristics of Picoult's novels. 

Another thing that Picoult has made herself known for is picking topics/conflicts that are often pretty relevant and pretty disputed, too. She has a particular talent for starting with a topic that you may think is pretty black and white, but make you see that there is so much more to consider by the time you finish. It's possible that this isn't what she was trying to do with Lone Wolf, but I highly doubt it. As far as I can tell, she was taking another stab at euthanasia with a side of oh, so you think this was a good guy that deserves to live well how about now, huh? how about now??? but I can't say that I felt like I was being presented with any new insight on the subject, and I definitely didn't have to reevaluate my feelings or opinions by the end.

Before I quit bashing, I also have to add that she added a couple of narratives into the book that were underutilized and clearly only thrown in to carry the plot, so they felt unfinished and just plain out of place.

Well, I guess I'll end by analysis on a good note. Even though I put all of my other positives in one spot and should have put this there, too. And that was an unnecessary fragment, and so is this oh my god I'm so annoying I'm sorry. Although I just didn't get many other good vibes from this particular book, I do feel the need to praise Picoult for an especially good portrayal of a gay character. In my opinion, many authors these days put in gay characters to be hip and forward thinking, but rarely give them the opportunity to be anything other than angsty over repressive familes/friends, as though they can't be given as important or as unique issues to deal with as other characters simply because they aren't heterosexual. Picoult did a darn fine job of making him multi-faceted, well-developed gay character. Heck, he was a darn fine multi-faceted, well developed character, regardless  of his sexual orientation, and that in itself is worthy of recognition, too.

Overall, I wasn't that pleased with this book because I am, as you have likely concluded, a fan of Picoult's work, and I don't think that it measures up to many of her other books. If you've never read anything by her, this may be a good book to start with because it is certainly worthy of your time, but I would definitely recommend you look to her other novels as well if you're looking for a more impressive read (I recommend Nineteen Minutes and My Sister's Keeper in particular). If you do decide to pick it up, I hope you enjoy!

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