Book Review: The Tenth Circle
Synopsis: When Daniel Stone was a child, he was the only white boy in a native Eskimo village where his mother taught, and he was teased mercilessly because he was different. He fought back, the baddest of the bad kids: stealing, drinking, robbing and cheating his way out of the Alaskan bush – where he honed his artistic talent, fell in love with a girl and got her pregnant. To become part of a family, he reinvented himself – jettisoning all that anger to become a docile, devoted husband and father. Fifteen years later, when we meet Daniel again, he is a comic book artist. His wife teaches Dante’s Inferno at a local college; his daughter, Trixie, is the light of his life – and a girl who only knows her father as the even-tempered, mild-mannered man he has been her whole life. Until, that is, she is date raped…and Daniel finds himself struggling, again, with a powerlessness and a rage that may not just swallow him whole, but destroy his family and his future.
I’m not really sure if I like this book as a whole. There were parts that I enjoyed, but there were parts that I hated as well. I did not like the ending. After a few pages into the book and I wanted to whack all the characters in it. I mean all of them were so twisted but I could cut some slack for Daniel. The change in him after he becomes a father is heartening. However for Laura and Trixie, I could only ask – what the hell were you thinking? Also there was so much extra in the middle that didn’t add anything to the book. I felt like I was suffering through the book. I think she could have edited to remove some of the extra and explored the ending a bit more. There was just too much of chaos going on. The comics were kind of a neat addition. They were dark, but they were fitting.
The characters – It was as if Trixie’s parents were attempting to learn about and express themselves through their jobs (Daniel with his dark cartoons, Laura with her discoveries through Dante’s Inferno, the book she lectured about). However, it was through the chaos that centered around Trixie that forced them to really learn about themselves. The Trixie character kind of disturbed me. It bothered me that she was a 14-year old girl going through all of this. But honestly I couldn’t come to care about her. Surely the author hoped that it would evoke sympathy from the reader but I felt Trixie was just a brat. But I do hope this is not something that happens to a lot of girls her age. Here’s the thing that really bothered me about this story if a young girl is forced to have sex by a guy she’s dated and has read this book, it doesn’t encourage her to talk about it with her friends or report it to the authorities. On the contrary, it shows her that if she doesn’t want her life to be completely destroyed that she should keep her mouth shut. That is a sad message.
I was hoping for some justice through story. It didn’t come though. Personally, I thought the guy getting killed was a lousy addition to the story. I thought the guy she met when she was running was a great part of the story. He made her feel safe in situations that had let her down in the past. I was disappointed that this part of the story did not get explored more and was just dropped before the ending. Meet me in Florida some time. Really? I think better could have resulted from that story line. Not developing it almost made it pointless. This is my third Jodi Picoult book. I liked Picture Perfect better, but I’m still not sold on this author. I know people love her though. Her writing is good and the characters are so vivid and have a lot of depth. I’ve just been bored with the extra stuff that isn’t needed and the endings. I always have this feeling that the story is incomplete somehow. The essential conversations never take place between the protagonists and their loved ones. It feels very superficial given the gravity of the subjects that she writes on.