Pumped Up Kicks

Today’s theme is school shootings. If you didn’t figure that out from the title of the post, please listen to this before proceeding.

Back? Okay.

Last week I read Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. This is a drama-thriller-fluff book about a school shooting and the aftermath, focusing on the personal lives of the killer and victims, and the defense presented by the killer’s lawyer in court.

Quite a few Picoult novels have a similar courtroom setting. It’s quite interesting for a layperson because the role of the attorney in a case like this is to make the guilty seem less guilty.

Picoult handles this disturbing subject quite well. She tries to include several plot twists, though none (bar one) are shocking in the least. And alas, the interesting, thought-provoking twist comes right at the end and is not fully fleshed out. Which makes me wonder if I am giving the author too much credit, and the twist is not as clever as it seems…

The writing style is simplistic and filled with corny dialogues, which I began to sincerely record about 20 pages in:

“He tasted of maple syrup and apologies”
“Hope, Patrick knew, was the exact measure of distance between himself and the person who’d come for help”
“A loose handful of grapes scattered like gasps”

And all this was just the first 150 pages.

3/5. Read it if you want some timepass entertainment.

On the other hand, if you want an intense, chilling portrayal of a school shooting, We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver is my nomination. It is written in the form of a series of letters from the mother of a school shooter, and her analysis of what she might have done wrong. Neither the mother nor the son is a pitiable figure; but you can’t help but root for them, especially when you realize that the mom has become the town’s public enemy #1. And the tale only gets more horrific towards the end.

I couldn’t get through this book on the first attempt, and watching the movie gave my friends a couple of sleepless nights. Do read if you like psychological thrillers.

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