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Jodi Picault: Lone Wolf
Stories about couples that break up because one of the partners has run off with someone else are pretty commonplace, but a story about a couple that gets a divorce because the husband decides to shack up with a pack of wolves has got to raise a few eyebrows.
Lone Wolf follows the story of zoologist Luke Warren who spends most of his adult life wallowing in his obsession with wolves. He finally decides to leave behind his family and to infiltrate a wolf pack in Canada. Two years later, he returns to his two kids, Edward and Cara, and wife, Georgie. However, his wife files for divorce and gets married to new beau Joe. Edward flees to Thailand while Cara decides to live with her father.
Six years later, Luke is involved in a car crash with Cara. Cara escapes narrowly with a few minor injuries, but Luke is lying comatose in a hospital bed with zero prospects of coming back to consciousness. At his mother's request, Edward returns from Thailand and is the only adult who can legally make decisions on his father's behalf.
Edward believes his father should be cut off life support, while seventeen-year-old Cara is desperate to keep her father alive. What appears at first a minor difference in opinions soon turns into violent clashes between family members. Taking family problems to court is par for the course of Jodi Picoult; Edward and Cara both fight for what they believe their father would have wanted.
Picoult's novels have a certain mould. She tends to tell her stories from the perspectives of several characters to add authenticity to her tale. However, Lone Wolf lacks just that. The story is unrealistic and occasionally outright ridiculous. There is actually a part where Edward sneaks a wolf into the hospital as an overgrown dog.
The characters are underdeveloped and the different protagonists don't have distinct voices. Luke isn't done justice; we don't get to understand him as a human. He's only represented through the eyes of his kids and ex-wife. And even then, Edward and Georgie harbour too many ill feelings towards him that you don't get to understand his true personality.
The novel is incredibly predictable and the few twists and turns revealed can be easily guessed. The prospect of Luke never waking up seems too dismal, and the prospect of him waking up seems too surreal. However, Picoult redeems herself with the huge amount of information about wolves incorporated into the novel. It is very interesting to read about the lives of wolves, their relationships and the resemblance they bear to the human world.
Picoult's novels are known for their emotionality, but Lone Wolf goes a little bit over the top. The parts of the novels that were supposed to evoke emotions in the reader ended up being redundant and sappy.
Such output from a staggeringly-talented storyteller is a bit of a letdown, but avid fans of Picoult's work might want to give this novel a shot anyway.
Joseph Anton was Rushdie’s pseudonym when he went into hiding, so it makes for a good title for a memoir detailing that particular part of his life. So one would assume the book details mostly that: the fatwa, its consequences and the efforts undertaken to void it. Unfortunately, there is a lot of toffee-nosed non-information one has to wade through to get to the interesting stuff.
The book is littered with numerous unnecessary references to several of his ‘beloved’, ‘amazing’ and ‘great’ friends such as Harold Pinter, Susan Sontag and Martin Amis. A good two pages are wasted detailing a dinner party at the home of then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. It would be more interesting to know how the fatwa was annulled (spoiler alert: it never actually officially was), not how Rushdie’s son Milan spent at least half an hour sitting on Tony Blair’s lap and how jolly a time was had by all.
The first impression of main character Abby, a freshman at university, is that she’s a goody-two-shoes and seems to have a reserved, shy personality. She is just starting a new independent life as a student far away from home, but her peace of mind is soon disturbed when she meets Travis; an underground fighter who goes to the same school. He's the kind of guy that every girl should avoid but still dreams of taming. With tattooed arms, the rebellious enigma captures Abby's attention instantly and though he has trouble written all over him, she can't help but get sucked into his world.
But on the other hand, Travis is also somewhat spellbound by Abby's innocence. What he doesn't know, and neither do we at the time, is that he’s in for a surprise; with a sharp tongue and a strong personality, Abby manages to charm the bad boy into submission. As the story progresses, we see Abby building a shield to protect herself from being another challenge that Travis conquers. Frustrated with Abby, Travis is forced to comply with her strict rules and settles for being ‘her friend’.
The novel takes an unusual turn when Abby loses a bet with Travis and is forced to live with him for a whole month. The lines between innocent friendship and love become blurred and as the story goes on, McGuire gradually delves deeper into Abby's fears and the dark past that is still hunting her.
Jumping up the New York Times bestselling charts soon after being published, Beautiful Disaster is much more than a just another romance novel.