4 July 2009

Review: CHANGE OF HEART by Jodi Picoult ***

"June's first husband was killed in a car crash. Against all the odds, her daughter was uninjured and, in another miracle, June found love again with the policeman who rescued them. Six years on they are a happy family, June pregnant with their own child. But now June's second daughter is dying without the new heart she so urgently needs. And her first daughter, along with her husband, is dead, killed by Shay Bourne, an itinerant workman they welcomed into their home. The crime was so heinous that Shay has been given the death penalty for the first time in 69 years in New Hampshire. Shay is going to die, and he is looking for redemption. He wants to give June's daughter his heart ..."


It's no secret that I'm a huge Jodi Picoult fan, but that doesn't mean I think all her novels are masterpieces, and I'm afraid this is one of those rare few that I didn't enjoy as much as I would have hoped to.

I didn't even intend to read this book when it was released because I've read the reviews saying the novel was full of religious symbolism - I'm an atheist myself and religion irritates me more than it fascinates me. I figured this book was not my cup of tea, but I thought the main dilemma was very interesting so I thought I'd give it a try.

I can't say I didn't enjoy the novel as such as it was typically well written. However, what bothered me that there was too much pointless talk about religion (I still don't know what the point of the Gnostic Gospels was because I entirely skipped that bit) and too many random miracles (the last sentence actually made me roll my eyes). Personally, I thought that part was completely unnecessary, but I guess the main moral dilemma wasn't enough to fill the whole book. Furthermore, I thought that the book was slow-paced and that hardly anything was going on, apart from miracles, which didn't excite me at all. I'm afraid I wasn't too keen on any of the characters, which is quite rare for me (OK, except for the yummy *British* doctor). I also found the main twist (what really happened that day) to be underdeveloped - I thought the revelation about the husband was quite shocking, but it just flew out of the window really.

On the plus side, the novel raises some interesting points about death penalty, which is a controversial subject in itself and Picoult provides some fascinating facts about it. Oh and yeah, the readers get to experience it first hand - ooh, that was kinda brutal.

I think I disliked this novel more than I enjoyed it, but I can't hate it because it was written by Picoult and we all know she's fantastic, I'd never read all the other books if they weren't written by her. But I'm afraid this just wasn't my cup of tea and I kept reading only because I wanted to find out how it will all be resolved. Sadly, I can't say I was too impressed.

It's funny how this novel is a complete opposite to my review of Handle with Care, which I posted somewhere back in December 2008. I finished the proof and couldn't stop raving about it! Here's what I wrote:

I really enjoyed this beautifully written yet poignant novel about the O’Keefe family: mum Charlotte, dad Sean, the disabled child Willow and her older sister Amelia. Due to Willow’s disability, their daily lives are anything but normal, but despite all the struggles they all adore Willow. Charlotte wants to provide the best possible life for Willow but knows that won’t be possible without a lot of money, which she is determined to get, even if that means opposing everyone, hurting her family and suing her best friend Piper, the obstetrician who supposedly failed to diagnose Willow’s condition (the brittle bone disease) soon enough for the pregnancy to be terminated … Each character is given a voice to describe their point of view and as the story unfolds, things keep breaking – not just bones, but also hearts, families, friendships and other things. Unfortunately, some breaks can be fatal …
This really is an amazing and a thought provoking novel, which tackles several controversial topics (e.g. disabilities, abortion, adoption etc.) and raises many difficult questions ... As a huge Picoult fan, I had high hopes for this one and it actually exceeded my expectations. This novel is in several ways reminiscent of My Sister’s Keeper, Picoult’s most famous book, but it also has bits of her other novels mixed in, making it a typical Picoult bestseller. Highly recommended to the old Picoult fans as well as to to readers who are just getting to know this incredible author – this really is Picoult at her best!

Just to show I really am a Picoult fan, but Change of Heart just didn't work for me, same as Vanishing Acts, Salem Falls, The Tenth Circle.
On the other hand, I really truly adored My Sister's Keeper, The Pact, Mercy, Nineteen Minutes, Plain Truth, Picture Perfect!
I still want to read Perfect Match, Harvesting the Heart and Second Glance, but I don't think I'll bother with Keeping Faith, heh.


Alicia said...

Is this the paperback cover of this book? It's so much prettier than the hardcover version I have :(

On the other hand, Handle With Care didn't work for me but other than that I agree with the rest of your Picoult opinions regarding her other books...I definitely would recommend Perfect Match. Keeping Faith isn't too bad either, it is a little odd but not too bad.

bookalicious said...

Yep, it's the paperback cover and I agree, it's quite lovely.
I think I've read your review of Handle with Care earlier and I agree that the ending sort of ruins the book, but I loved the book so much that I just couldn't let the ending spoil it for me, heh.
I don't think Keeping Faith will be worth my time if it's full of miracles or religious talk, I just can't put up with that, lol. But I'm definitely looking forward to Perfect Match!
Glad to come across another Picoult fan! :)

Alicia said...

I am considering getting the paperback version...would it be weird if I had two copies?

I really did enjoy the book up until the ending, I shouldn't have let it bother me but it really did! To this day, I get mad thinking about it....but the subject was really interesting as usual!

Yeah, I am not into talks of miracles and religion either, but it didn't bother me....probably only because I had to read EVERY Picoult book lol. My library was probably sick of me :) Keeping Faith is the only one I don't own though.

bookalicious said...

Haha, you definitely are my kind of girl - I often think of doing the same if the paperback cover is nicer than the hardback. Honestly, the covers really can make or break a book. I'm still seriously considering buying a paperback of This Charming Man by Marian Keyes because the UK paperback is sooo stunning, even though I already have the TPB, but it's just not the same, lol.

I know what you mean about the ending of HWC, I was quite disappointed myself since it made everything pointless, but I told myself that that's just the way life goes, not everything makes sense, lol.

Have you read Change of Heart? What did you think of it?

Alicia said...

yeah - I've definitely been known to be in the bookstore and see a beautiful cover, then buy the book!!! It's a real problem sometimes!

I did read Change of Heart....I'm trying to remember what I thought, I read it quite awhile ago. It must not have made a huge impression on me like some of her others because I don't remember much about it

bookalicious said...

Yep, I'm the same with other Picoult books that left me unimpressed - I just forget about them, whereas the ones that blew me away stay with me in great detail. Picoult has her ups and downs (the former more than the latter), but she's definitely a brilliant writer!

Novelicious said...

I've still to read this, but I am a fan of Jodi Picoult. Salem Falls is my absolute favourite!

Amy said...

Hey Susana,

I have on old review of this book on my blog, I gave it four stars. I've never read any other Picoult books (I'd previously started reading Keeping Faith but gave up halfway through). I do think her books are a little too long.

Anyway, nice review!

bookalicious said...

Novelicious - isn't it funny how tastes differ, lol? I personally liked Salem Falls far more than Change of Heart, but it just didn't blow me away, I guess. Have you read Change of Heart btw?

Hey, Amy, glad to see you around! Oh, I've just read your review and it couldn't be more different than mine! I'm glad you enjoyed the book and I guess it had it's plus sides, but it just wasn't my cup of tea! Glad it didn't put you of Picoult and if you ever feel like reading more by her, I definitely recommend My Sister's Keeper, The Pact, Nineteen Minutes, The Pact etc! I can imagine that if you liked Change of Heart, then you would love those! :)

chicklitreviews said...

I have this to read (along with Handle With Care, The Tenth Circle & Plain Truth). I'm not at all religious so, from your review, I'm quite worried this book will confuse me! However, like you, I like the whole death penalty debate!

bookalicious said...

Well, I suggest starting Handle with Care and Plain Truth first as they real do excel more than the other two imho. You could very well enjoy Change of Heart (Amy did - check out her great review: http://amysadventuresinwonderland.blogspot.com/2009/01/jodi-picoult-change-of-heart.html), but I'm afraid that religion is a subject that really doesn't fascinate me at all so I just found all the religious stuff booooring, as silly as that may sound. Personally, I think the book would be brilliant without that because the main dilemma and the death penaly discussion really is quite interesting!

Jessica said...

I loved The Pact! One of my favorite book! I bought Vanishing Acts which I still have to read.

Novelicious said...

Hey! I have Change of heart, but I have'nt read it yet. I loved the pact, like Jessica, though.

I really love how much fact goes into picoults books. She must do soo much research!!

bookalicious said...

Jessica - Agreed, The Pact was absolutely fantastic! I remember I just could not put it down and I still remember certain lines and scenes from the book, it was just so touching and memorable. Have you seen the Lifetime film though?! Absolutely horrible!!! It's nothing like the book, it enraged me so I recommend you stay away from it if you haven't seen it yet. ;)

Novelicious - Yes, the Picoult novels are also amazing from the factual point of view, you learn something new (and fascinating) in each of her books, it's not just the story and the characters. But I think she has a whole team of researchers to help her though - I'm not surprised, the woman publishes a novel a year!

Dot said...

I'm the same as you, I have liked and disliked the same Jodi Picoult books! Maybe I will give this one a miss then!

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