Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all well. Today I’m going to be posting my review of Jodi Picoult’s excellent novel, ‘The Pact’. This is only the second book I’ve read by Picoult (I’ve clearly been hiding under a rock all these years, but you can find my review of ‘Handle With Care’ here), but she’s quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. So, here goes…
When Chris wakes up in hospital, Emily is the first person he asks for. She is the love of his life. But Emily is dead, and Chris is the sole witness to what happened in the park that night.
He claims it was a suicide pact: they were both meant to die.
Then the investigation turns up motive for murder, and there is only one suspect . . .
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains references to mental illness and suicide
Jodi Picoult is the author of 26 internationally bestselling novels, and is probably one of the biggest names out there currently. ‘The Pact’ is Picoult’s fifth novel, and was released in 1998. It has been adapted into a film version, which I will definitely have to watch now! Picoult really doesn’t need much of an introduction, as pretty much everybody knows somebody who reads her novels.
‘The Pact’ has received some amazing praise. PEOPLE Magazine called it a “compelling read, right up to the stunning courtroom conclusion”, Booklist said “This psychologically shrewd tale is as suspenseful as any best-selling legal thriller” and New York Times said “The novelist displays an almost uncanny ability to enter the skins of her troubled young protagonists”.
‘The Pact’ was an absolutely sensational read. I was drawn to this book simply because I thought the premise sounded really interesting. The narrative essentially follows two families who live next door to each other, the Hartes and the Golds, as they deal with the death of Emily Gold, who may or may not have been killed by her boyfriend Chris Harte. The novel opens with Emily’s death and the utter devastation that causes.
As expected, all the characters in the novel were excellently constructed. They are all different and are all grieving in their own ways. Emily Gold doesn’t have an active presence in the novel, apart from in flashbacks or other people’s perspectives, but it’s clear to see just how much she was loved. She loved her boyfriend and best friend Chris Harte with all her heart, and they’d been inseparable since they were young. Her death devastates everybody, and it’s clear to see just how much of an impact she made on each of the characters lives. But as we delve deeper into the novel, it soon becomes clear that Emily isn’t as clear cut as we may first think, and there is a lot more to her than we may first anticipate.
Emily’s parents, Michael and Melanie, are obviously grieving the loss of their daughter. But they also love Chris dearly, having essentially welcomed him as part of the family years ago. When Chris ends up alive and Emily is dead, as you can imagine, all fingers point to him. Michael and Melanie obviously put their own family first and break all ties from the Hartes. But soon, secrets about Emily are revealed, and her parents must question just how well they really knew their daughter. In particular, I really admired Michael’s courage towards the end of the novel (you’ll see what I mean if you read it).
Chris Harte loved Emily dearly, and would have done anything for her. The couple have their ups and downs, but ultimately he sticks by her always. Picoult quickly begins to throw little unexpected details about Chris into play, and the reader is left questioning who he really is, and if there is more to his character than we may first perceive. Did he kill Emily? Or was it really a suicide pact? It’s hard to tell until the very end of the novel, as Picoult throws so many twists and turns in! I had very mixed feelings towards Chris throughout the novel, and he was an exceptionally well-constructed character.
Chris’ parents, Gus and James, automatically believe Chris when he claims that him and Emily had a suicide pact that went wrong. As I’m sure any parent would, they simply cannot believe that their son would have killed the love of his love. They reach out to the Golds often, but as you can imagine, a massive wedge has now forced the two families apart. Thankfully, their son is still here – but is he really the innocent boy they always thought he was?
The narrative is told in two different times – Now (the current death of Emily and the aftermath that follows), and Then (following the two families from Emily and Chris’ births to just before the tragedy). It was a little bit tricky to get to grips with these switches in time at first, but I soon got the hang of the narrative style. It was really interesting to read about both narratives. I loved reading all about the family dynamics as Emily and Chris grow up and begin dating, and also loved reading about the current situation.
It’s clear to see that an awful lot of research went into the writing of this novel, particularly in the explorations of the law and the courtroom. I actually learnt quite a lot from this novel – about how court cases work and the fairness of the law. Picoult’s language usage is accurate and hard-hitting, as she reveals just how brutal these cases can be.
Picoult explores many issues in this jam-packed novel: suicide, mental illness, death, grief, love, suffering, the law and so much more. I felt that all these issues were explored in sufficient detail, and there wasn’t anything that Picoult didn’t touch on deeply enough. This is the kind of novel that will make you laugh, cry, smile and feel angry all at once. It deeply moved me, and I’m so glad I took the time out to read these exceptional 480 pages.
So, let’s talk about the ending…. that ending!!! The entire final courtroom scene was absolutely astounding, and I was physically unable to put the book down during that final scene. So many unexpected details were revealed, exploding into an almighty climax. Picoult creates so much tension and suspense within that final scene – I almost couldn’t bear it! I genuinely did not know what was going to happen. The final revelation is extremely shocking, and I just remember thinking “wow”!
Overall, this was a fantastic read and I would highly recommend this to pretty much everyone. The characters were all brilliant, the narrative was exciting and fresh…and I just can’t get over that final scene! The only criticism I have was that it took me a bit of time to get into this novel – for what reason I’m not exactly sure. But it was definitely worth it, and I’m so glad I read it. I haven’t been able to get this novel out of my head since reading it! Picoult, you’re an excellent writer.
Happy reading 🙂