Book blurb: The Tenth Circle – Jodi Picoult

I’ve been on a bit of a Jodi Picoult jag recently.  I find her work impossible to categorise – not chick lit, not women’s/family lit even, not thriller or courtroom dramas, although they are all key elements.  Her books might make it onto Oprah, but they’re well-written and stylish, never clichéd although they could easily become so, given the issues.  Her strength is taking a highly emotive subject and showing the effects on the dynamics of a relationship, family or community, how it can split people apart, and how there are no easy answers or solutions, no black and white.

Her most recently published book, The Tenth Circle, revolves around a teenage girl, Trixie.  Her father, Daniel, is a comic book artist, having undergone a total personality do-over from violent drifter to soccer dad so as to be a part of his child’s and wife’s lives. Laura has pursued a career as an English professor specialising in Dante’s Inferno while Daniel has been the stay-at-home dad, putting his own career on hold.

When Trixie is raped, Daniel has to fight his own reflex to morph back into his former self to do what it takes to protect his child and take revenge.  But what are the facts? The accused is Trixie’s ex-boyfriend who broke her heart when he dumped her, and who she swore to get back no matter what – which kind of complicates matters; he is then murdered.  Whoduunit? What is Trixie’s role? Who is to blame?

The most fascinating and innovative part of the novel is that it is multimedia; author Picoult has interspersed chapters of the novel with chapters from Daniel’s own graphic novel, featuring his character/anti-superhero Wildclaw (somewhat Wolverine-esque) pencilled by one real-life Dustin Weaver who works for Marvel, I think. The artwork and story within a story is brilliant as it not only mirrors Daniel’s character but the “outer” story and the descent of Daniel, Laura and Trixie through the nine circles of hell as envisioned by Dante (the Tenth Circle is where Daniel/Wildclaw must face his own demon, himself).

There is yet another layer; within the frames of the graphic novel sections are  hidden letters, which put together make up a quote and the author of that quote, encapsulating the main theme of the novel.  Cool shit (and took me a while – some letters are really obvious, some you have to hunt hard, the result satisfying).

Like most of Picoult’s other work The Tenth Circle is very much character-driven and the themes which at first seem sharply defined blur, and although the subject is highly emotive Picoult keeps tight hold and refrains from descending into melodrama.   She does an immense amount of research for each of her books – in The Tenth Circle it’s forensics, law, the Alaskan wilderness, graphic art and comic books – which really grounds the action and drama and gives credibility and added interest.

Previous books by Jodi Picoult include Vanishing Acts, My Sister’s Keeper, Second Glance, Perfect Match, Plain Truth, Salem Falls, The Pact and several others.  She also has the next two underway already even though she is still touring for The Tenth Circle.  Prolific – so if you like her work there’s plenty to catch up on.

Not just soppy women’s book club lit (although her novels are book club favourites one shouldn’t be snobby about such things; I’m the first person to reject a book on the grounds it carries an Oprah sticker and was horrified when Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible got one – aaaarrrrgh!!!!! My point is, give it a chance.  The graphic novel component is reason enough; I adored it and it’s different kind of superhero, and it has sparked a new craving – must add Neil Gaiman to personal library – any other recommendations?).

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  • sally  On Saturday 15 December 2007 at 7:12 am

    hi x please will you tell me the quote that is in the comic i have been looking for weeks through the book and I can’t find any letters that fit together at all please email me it sallyx

  • Maximus  On Thursday 20 December 2007 at 5:57 pm

    I would like to see a continuation of the topic

  • katie  On Tuesday 25 March 2008 at 2:51 am

    please enlighten me with that quote… its driving me crazy!!!

  • Amanda  On Wednesday 24 December 2008 at 10:53 am

    I can’t figure out what the quote is. Please tell me! I’m going nuts!

    • gracie  On Friday 24 July 2009 at 8:21 am

      Here is the quote fromt he comic in THE TENTH CIRCLE

      Nothing is easier than self deceit, for what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true – Demosthenes

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