Book Review: The Pact

Author: Jodi Picoult

ISBN: 978-0688170523


The Pact is the second Jodi Picoult novel that I have read after Picture Perfect.

The synopsis: The Hartes and Golds have lived next door to each other for about 18 years and are best friends. The Hartes have a 17-year-old son, Chris and a 14-year-old daughter, Kate and the Golds have a 17-year-old daughter, Emily.

Chris and Emily have been inseparable since a 6 month old Chris was placed in the hospital cot beside newborn Emily. The plot is mainly around Chris and Emily, though Emily dies in the first paragraph of the book.

Emily dies from a gun shot wound to her head and the question is: was it suicide or did Chris, who was the only person present there, do it? From here, the book flicks from the present to the past showing us flashbacks to when they were born and their relationship and bonding over the years and the present showing us how the two families deal with this tragedy.

I thought that the characters could have been developed more in-depth and many of the storylines quite implausible. The fact that Emily and Chris would end up in a relationship, the book presents this as something that was bound to happen however as you read the flashback chapters it becomes clear that these two were brought up like brother and sister and I thought it was quite unlikely that they would fall into such a relationship. Whereas, as Emily is confused about her relationship with Chris and has her misgivings, Chris has a lot of conviction in it. Chris is Emily’s best friend and confidant so then why does she not share her dark secret with him – try him out. She finds sex with Chris incestuous. Her emotional turmoil, compounded by her pregnancy, which she keeps secret, leads to depression, despair and a desire for suicide and she insists that Chris prove his love by pulling the trigger. Throughout reading this book, I wondered when would the real reason come up. The starting point of it all that led to the suicide pact and I was disappointed that it never came up. I thought in the end it would be revealed. Unconvincing behaviour and dialogue inappropriate to the situation (most importantly, the fact that the parents fail to discuss crucial topics) never touch the essence bereavement and thus destroy credibility.

Chris’s mother is referred to as the star witness and is the last defence witness to take the stand. She isn’t at the crime scene and she isn’t there to provide an alibi, it would seem that the central plank of defence is to be based around the defendant’s mother saying what a nice boy he has always been. Chris had been awaiting trial for eight months and this is the best his lawyer could do?

The ending though predictable could have been written well. I could not believe that was it and was not aware that I was so close to the end as the last pages were devoted to a discussion group and excerpts from the author’s other books.

This book purports to be a mixture between a love story and a legal drama but I did not think it worked on either count. The love story I found unintentionally disturbing while the courtroom drama quite far-fetched.

My rating: 3/5


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