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Customer Review

586 of 679 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Premise - Dragged Out, January 4, 2012
This review is from: Defending Jacob: A Novel (Hardcover)
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For me, this book had highs and lows. I'll start with the good stuff. The plot tackles multiple issues, expertly woven together, and laid out for us to ponder. At the heart of the story is the controversial topic of the `murder gene' and whether the propensity for violence is in our DNA. We question whether our family history changes how people perceive us. And, along with the characters, we wonder how far we would go to protect our child.

Now for the not so good stuff. I did not always find the parents, the father in particular, believable. He stumbles upon a few red flags with his son's activities, yet he never once confronts his son about these things. His character is a bit too much of an ostrich, sticking his head in the sand and pretending all is well. The characters aren't well-developed and I didn't connect well with any of them.

The biggest disappointment for me is the pace of the story. It drags. We spend a lot of time in the narrator's head and his thoughts become repetitive. The trial begins about 2/3 through the book and the pace slows to a crawl. We read long snippets of the trial transcript. Everything is rehashed for us in trial format, but none of the information is new. The experience left me feeling disconnected and bored, rather than involved or on the edge of my seat in suspense. By the time I arrived at the twist at the end, which should have been stunning, I breathed a sigh of relief that it was over.
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Showing 1-10 of 66 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 4, 2012 2:32:29 PM PST
J. Grattan says:
A no-punches-pulled review. I agree somewhat. JG.

Posted on Jan 24, 2012 4:33:26 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 25, 2012 11:19:17 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2012 11:48:47 AM PST
Darcia Helle says:
Heh. I confess I skimmed most of that part.

Posted on Feb 8, 2012 2:04:09 PM PST
M Guillinta says:
I agree the trial dragged a bit, but how could you NOT be taken by the ending? the twist was so unexpected and I admit, being the mother of a 14 year old myself, I was taken by this ending and found myself wondering what I would do, if that were me.

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 4:34:20 AM PST
Marie Lutz says:
The father doesn't confront his son because he knows he's guilty. Dad is not a reliable narrator. He also shows some of the same violent tendencies of his son.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2012 7:22:25 AM PST
Darcia Helle says:
I have 2 sons, so, sure, I wondered how I would react in the same situation. But the ending would have had a bigger impact on me if I hadn't been lulled to sleep through 50 pages of transcripts in order to get there. My opinion only. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2012 7:25:29 AM PST
Darcia Helle says:
True, Marie. This might have made more sense to me if he'd struggled with this in his own mind. But, even in his private narration, he insisted his son was innocent. Considering how much of the book was made of of the father's private thoughts, this should have come up at at least one point, if it was in fact an issue for him.

Posted on Feb 26, 2012 4:58:34 AM PST
Of course the narrator is unreliable. He's a flawed human being. Meaning, he's human. But he knows how to tell a story, I'll say that for him. As to whether the trial segments are boring, they may be to someone not interested in trials; I can't argue with anyone who says they were boring to him. But, to me, they weren't boring. I found them interesting and the narrator, as a trial lawyer himself, has the right eye for details.Nate and Adel and Other StoriesAdel's Journal and Other Stories (Nate and Adel and Other Stories)To Hide in Athens and Other Stories (Nate & Adel and Other Stories)Community and Other Stories (Nate & Adel and Other Stories)

Posted on Feb 29, 2012 3:06:31 PM PST
professor says:
good concept and character development. pace is to slow and too much repetition. three stars is appropriate

Posted on Mar 12, 2012 11:35:59 PM PDT
Jus' sayin' says:
I actually found the concept of the "murder gene" to be ridiculous and overwrought. But that was the only criticism I had of this extremely well written, well conceived book. Unlike "We Have to Talk About Kevin" which was absurd and off puttingly OTT, this story made sense and so did the characters.
Kudos to Landay for writing one of the few books I've been reluctant to put down in a long, long time.
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