Monday, August 27, 2012
Book Review: Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
Author: Lisa Scottoline
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: April 14, 2009
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library
The summary from Goodreads:
"When reporter Ellen Gleeson gets a “Have You Seen This Child?” flyer in the mail, she almost throws it away. But something about it makes her look again, and her heart stops—the child in the photo is identical to her adopted son, Will. Her every instinct tells her to deny the similarity between the boys, because she knows her adoption was lawful. But she’s a journalist and won’t be able to stop thinking about the photo until she figures out the truth. And she can’t shake the question: if Will rightfully belongs to someone else, should she keep him or give him up? She investigates, uncovering clues no one was meant to discover, and when she digs too deep, she risks losing her own life—and that of the son she loves."
Can you see why I was dying to get at this book? I remember reading the back cover of it in a Borders (OH SNAP, dating myself!) when it first came out, and frantically writing a note on my hand so that I wouldn't forget to put it on my TBR list when I got home. I finally got around to borrowing it this week. Believe it or not, this is a tough one to review.
Let me start with the good things. The plot will rip your heart out and stomp on it at multiple points throughout the novel, especially if you're a parent. It's tough not to get emotionally attached to three-year-old Will. There were a few times that I threw the book down and ran into my son's room to stalkerish-ly watch him sleep, because I was terrified at the VERY THOUGHT that something like this could ever befall a mother and child. For that alone, Scottoline gets big points. She does a great job with the emotional side of the plot.
I also loved that there were several twists that I did not see coming. A few times I thought (quite smugly, I might add) that I had it all figured out, only to be proven horribly wrong ten pages later. And I'm pretty sure that the only time I LOVE being wrong is when I'm predicting book plots.
But alas, this book was not 100% full of awesome.
One issue for me was with the writing style. There were several times that Scottoline used young, "hip" conversational terms that felt extremely forced. Phrases like "mos def", "we cool?", and "hold the phone" peppered the dialogue at times, and they were painful to read (even on younger characters). This made the chatter between characters feel way too clunky. Plus, Scottoline seems to have a burning desire to end every chapter with a dramatic one-liner, which got old quickly. Choppy sentences like "She felt a catfight coming on." or "As if she would forget it." dangled dramatically at the end of every chapter (of which there were 96, so yes, it happened a lot). It felt kitschy and didn't fit the tone of what was happening in the novel.
My only other issue was the romantic relationship that Ellen develops between all her super-sleuthing. It was odd (strangest May-September romance ever), completely misplaced given the adoption/kidnapping situation, and totally unnecessary to the plot. It was clearly thrown in there solely to keep the attention of the 50 Shades set. I could have done without it.
Overall? Look Again is based on a great concept, and certainly keeps you guessing. But the writing leaves a lot to be desired, and at times, takes away from the enormity of the topic at hand. It's Jodi Picoult-ish, but with a less serious writing style.