Book & Movie Review : The Lovely Bones

Book Review

I came across this book accidentally while surfing for e-books to buy. This book was at the Top 10 list of most popular book of the week at the e-book site I was surfing. After reading a mini excerpt and summary (which was not very informative), I decided to just jump in and buy the e-book. Feeling a little adventurous there.

I was pleasantly surprised, as this is not usually the kind of novel I would just pick up.

The book is a novel written by Alice Sebold, telling the story of a young girl who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in a small town in the 70s. Back when child kidnapping was not common, when life was peachy and nobody can fathom such cruelty.

Narrated in the voice of Susie Salmon (our child victim), it tells her point-of-view of her life, the crime and what happens in her after-life – when she is watching Earth and her family as they struggle with her initial disappearance and acceptance of her death.


Although, the kidnap, rape and murder was not as gruesome as I’d expected, the story was rather realistic as it tells the story from Susie’s perspective. After her death, it tells how she moved on to the after-life and watches down on Earth on her family and her killer and how she wish he would get discovered.

The interesting bit I was fascinated with was her after-life. No, she did not immediately head to heaven or hell, she was in transition for a bit until she tackles her “unresolved frustrations”. Which was pretty accurate in my belief. That’s how ghosts exists, no? They hang around the humans until they can “move on”.

Also, I’ve always wondered about heaven. What is it like? We have so many religions, does it mean that everyone has their own religion’s heaven? Or, as described in this book, heaven is pretty much the happiest place for you. Of course, there’ll be no live friends or family with you there, but the place is where you’re the happiest.

This got me thinking, where is the happiest place for me?

In the book, when her family dog died, she was reunited with him. Which means that the dog’s happiest place is with her. This got me thinking if the happiest place for my doggie, Oscar is with me? You don’t immediately get reunited with your dead family and friends unless you’re in their happy place, too. Interesting, huh?

All in all, this is a good book. I like good fictional books where I can let my own imaginations free. Granted, the scenario of rape-murder is not the most pleasant one, but the thought of looking down on how the world is moving on without you is a painful thought.

Since my expectations were limited when I picked up this book, I would now rate it a 3.5 out of 5. It has a good story-telling flow to it and you slowly learn to place yourself into the character’s mind and empathise with the pain and longing she felt as a teenage girl, wronged, lost and naive.

Click on the link and check out Amazon’s book descriptions, other readers’ reviews and buy “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold.

 

Movie Review

I was in a MAS flight and was browsing through the in-flight entertainment menu and came across “The Lovely Bones”. Silly me. I had no idea that the book was made into a movie. No wonder it was at the top of the recommended reads on the e-book site. *face palm*

Since I had just finished the book days ago, and the plot is still rather fresh in my mind, I watched it on the plane.

The movie was directed by the LOTR director, Peter Jackson and stars Mark Wahlberg as Jack Salmon and Rachel Weisz as his wife. Considering the story is centered around Susie Salmon, I was kinda hoping that they would want to hype the actress playing this role and not her parents.

As I was searching for movie poster for this post, I learned that Jack Salmon’s role was originally given to Ryan Gosling. I thought he would be a more suitable cast than Mark Wahlberg. The latter isn’t exactly the perfect daddy figure for the character in the book I just read. Ryan Gosling was more suited in my opinion, possibly because he has more depth to his persona and could play little dramatic roles like this much better.

Ryan grew a beard to play the dad and had also apparently gained some weight, too. Which Peter Jackson was not too pleased with and got axed from the role just days before shooting began. What a waste!

Nevertheless, due to the bigger names in the adult roles (like Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon) the storyline was slightly altered in the movie. More focus were given to them rather than the little Susie Salmon. The actress playing Susie was good, but not great. She was convincing, yes – but because little focus was on her, unlike the book, the audience don’t get to empathise with her character as much.

This I thought was not doing the book any justice.

Additionally, scenes of her looking down on Earth on her family was done in a way where she was sitting on a verandah while life on Earth was played like a virtual movie screen. This is also something I dislike. I had a different picture in my mind when I read the book. She was almost literally there in the room when things happen on Earth. Either standing next to her family, or floating in the air. I believed it should be played that way to show more connection between Susie and the situation she’s in – also emphasizing the loneliness and longing feeling she had to just reach out and touch her family.

I am almost always of the opinion that movie adaptations of books are mediocre. In a book, you get to feel and understand the emotion being each character. In a movie, unless they do voice overs, you always lose that feeling.

Obviously, if its a graphic description in a book that’s coming to life (like Jurassic Park, perhaps), I’m sure the visual effects is to die for and can’t possibly be better in words.

I had high expectations for a movie with such an incredible cast and director. Unfortunately for me, movie adaptations always fail. So I only rate the movie a sad 2.5 out of 5. It is good to see the characters come to life but the mediocre acting (especially in the part of Mark Wahlberg) and the slight change to the plot (relationship between Susie’s parents) were off-putting. The book was way better.

If you have read both the book and seen the movie and have a differing opinion, let me know. If you have done either one, tell me what you think in the comments below.