December 10, 2009

Mercy by Jodi Picoult

I have grown very fond of the books by Jodi Picoult. It reminds me of the phase I went through in my middle school years when I was obsessed with reading Stephen King novels and would scour the flea market for titles I had not yet acquired for my ridiculous collection. I still remember staying up until 3 am one night just to finish Pet Sematary, or it might have been because I was too scared to fall asleep. The moral of the story is that once I find an author I like, I want to read everything they have written; the good, the bad, the ugly. That being said, I can safely say that Mercy was the first Picoult novel I have read that I didn't get completely enraptured with. That's not to say I didn't like it, because I did. However, I didn't love it and it didn't grab hold of me like, for example, My Sister's Keeper had.

Mercy is a novel about love. What does it mean to love someone? Would you do anything for that person? Would you kill for them? Is it possible to love someone too much? A woman dying of numerous forms of cancer who is suffering horribly asks her devoted husband to kill her, to put her out of her misery. He does what she asks him and the rest of the novel explores the aftermath of the murder and the question of what it really means to love someone, as well as the many definitions of the word "mercy." The subplot, which really operates on a level equal to the euthanasia plot, is the affair the police chief (and cousin of the accused murderer) has with his wife's assistant. Strangely, it was this plot that left me feeling more uncomfortable than the one that involved the murder of a woman.

Picoult's prose is good, as always. She writes in a very straight forward manner that the reader appreciates. This novel is written in a much more gentle manner than those I have previously read. It explores its subject matter with a certain sensitivity and grace. However, I felt this novel spent unnecessary page space on the obvious details of sexual encounters, but lacked a certain panache that may have made these scenes more interesting. Furthermore, this novel was very predictable. There were none of the twists and turns that keep you flipping the pages at a breakneck pace. Instead, you kept reading in an effort to confirm your suspicions about what you expected was going to happen, realizing that you were dead on.

With likable characters, a dash of Scottish Gaelic, and an interesting ethical dilemma, this novel is certainly enjoyable. However, the predictability of the plot that leads to the expected ending leaves something to be desired. 3 Stars.


  1. I haven't read any Picoult before.I don't even know where to start. Any suggestions?

  2. I started with "My Sister's Keeper" and really enjoyed it. This was way before the movie came out. "Nineteen Minutes" has been my favorite so far and if you really want a departure from the norm, try "The Tenth Circle." Enjoy!


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