8 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
September 18, 2004
Before I begin the review, let me start with a disclaimer. I am notoriously picky about what I read, watch, and listen to. My taste rarely gels with the mainstream. So while I absolutely didn't like this book, I'm sure most of you will love it. In other words, don't listen to me.
The biggest obstacle I could never overcome completely was the main gimmick of the book--the narrator in heaven, or as I think more aptly applies, purgatory. I could never buy into it because of my own conflicting beliefs and as such, every time I read those parts about the narrator in "heaven"--btw, how can you have an imperfect heaven? Isn't heaven supposed to be perfect?--it was like torture for me and I have to admit I skipped a few pages near the end. I just think all that stuff about watching the people below and meeting her relatives (and pets) "up there" is cliche and a bad cliche at that. And since the narrator is only 13 it makes it seem like a young adult book, which doesn't interest me.
The other problem, and another cliche was with Mr. Harvey the serial killer. This guy pretty much comes out of Serial Killer 101, the creepy loner who's quiet and no one would really think would hurt anyone. If I wanted to read about serial killers I could have picked up "Silence of the Lambs" and it would have been much more interesting.
The parts that did interest me were with the Salmon family and their coping with the death. Those were the times when I actually got involved with the story, but the author kept spoiling the mood by going to "heaven" or detailing how Susie was chopped to bits and stuffed in a safe. The best way I can think of to explain this effect is that it's like having an intimate moment with your partner and suddenly one of you breaks wind very loudly--the moment is gone and you can't ever get it back to what it was.
I think the most annoying moment is when Susie comes back to life for a little bit. Now if you could come back to life for an hour or so what would you do? A. Take revenge on your killer B. Say goodbye to your loved ones C. Have sex with the boy you had a crush on? Well I guess if you answer C then this is your kind of book. Since I wouldn't maybe that's part of my problem. That was another of those mood spoilers for me.
I just wish the book would have focused on Susie's family instead of all these tangents that did nothing but ruin my enjoyment. A few less characters would have helped too, because I didn't care about Ruth or Ray because they didn't seem to do a lot. They were there primarily for the event I referenced in my little poll up above. The characters in "heaven" never contributed much to the story either; I could have done without them as well.
As it was, I just didn't think the story focused enough on the most compelling characters and as such I could never really get into the book. It had some moments, but they were always interrupted before they could blossom.
But even though I didn't like it, I'm sure the rest of you will. See my disclaimer above. So go ahead and read it.