As a big Jodi Picoult fan I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. I have read all of her other novels and enjoyed them (barring `Songs of The Humpback Whale' which I found to be a bit bland), so it was safe to say that I was anticipating an excellent read here.
Picoult definitely doesn't disappoint in this excellent story of a fractured family, hidden secrets and a horrific moral dilemma faced by an estranged brother and sister. I loved every word- the characterisation was excellent, settings believable and it really does make you think what you would do if you ever found yourself in a similar situation.
The book revolves around Cara and her father Luke, both injured in a car accident that unfortunately leaves Luke on a ventilator with a practically nil chance of waking- and even if he does, chances are he will be brain damaged. As Luke was a famous naturalist who has integrated himself into wild wolf packs, his estranged son questions whether his father would ever want to live such a different way of life. Cara meanwhile is determined to prove that any life at all, is at least worth living...
As the book unfolds, family secrets are brought to the fore which only adds further drama to the proceedings. Chapters are told from alternate characters perspectives which really adds a sense of tension to the story, as well as a degree of empathy and understanding as to what the family are going through.
I can concede other reviewer's reservations with this book however: first time readers may find her depth of detail and research slightly off-putting and indeed overwhelming at times, though I personally found it relevant to the plot; Picoult tells a narrative from Luke's perspective, in which the symbolism of the wolf-pack mirrors events occurring in his own family at the time. I found this to be an excellent device within the story with just enough level of detail around wolf packs to keep me interested, as well as educating me.
I have to admit that this book moves at a slightly slower pace than some of her earlier novels too, which other long time readers have highlighted. It is also more `clean cut' with its moral issue, in that suggestions right from the start of the story indicate the right decision to be made in the long term, though the journey in getting there is still a worthwhile narrative and (in my opinion) very worth a read.
I have deducted half a star merely because the supposed 'revelations' within the book were a little bit predictable. I suppose I expected a bit more twists and turns- this is a Jodi book after all! That is my only criticism of the novel however.
If you have not read a Picoult novel before then I would perhaps urge you to be a bit cautious in trying this one first- it is very different from some of her others. I would suggest starting with `Nineteen Minutes' or `Change of Heart' first and then move on to this one afterwards if you enjoy her style of writing. If you are a Picoult fan though, then you will enjoy it.