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  • Mercy
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3.4 out of 5 stars138
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 28 August 2006
I have read nearly all of Jodi Picoult's other books and they were all fantastic, although I think this may be the exception.

The story follows a man who kills his wife because she was dying of terminal cancer and asked him to kill her. He turns himself in to the police. It's a thought provoking and controversial theme and there aren't many books covering the topic. The ending to this euthanasia storyline was excellent. This storyline made me completely empathise with the man and ask myself if I would do the same. It's a well addressed topic and beautifully written.

However, the author has chosen to make this into an almost background issue and the main bulk of the book follows the story of the adulterous police chief and his devoted wife.

This storyline is well written also but it left me feeling rather flat to be honest, I didn't empathise with these characters and it made me irritated. The ending of this storyline was good but it certainly wasn't the ending I was hoping for at all. Despite saying all of this it did again make me think what would I do myself and it was well integrated into the main plot of the book.

Overall it is an incredibly thought provoking and well written read. It could have been much better if the euthanasia storyline was covered in more depth and if a lot less of the affair storyline had been written. I would suggest you should read her other books first to see how well it could have been written. I did enjoy reading the book so its worth a read anyway just in order to make yourself think what would you do?
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VINE VOICEon 4 February 2007
About half way through the book I felt as many of the previous reviewers did, that this was not Jodi Picoult's best work and that the impetus had waned a bit. I remember feeling this way half way through "Keeping Faith", but that turned into a gripping page turner towards the end and for me the same was true for 'Mercy'.

Jamie McDonald smothers his terminally ill wife to end her misery. He then turns himself in to the local police chief. It is no coincidence that the chief of police is also his cousin, Cam McDonald.

Running alongside this ethical dilemma is the draw that Cam feels for the newly arrived, mysterious Mia, and the repercussions this has on his marriage.

Two well written and interwoven stories.

Written 10 years ago, this is lacking a little in comparison to Ms Picoult's current work, but her style is already clearly formed and as ever the subject matter is controversial. It has been cunningly marketed as if to convince readers that this is a new novel, indeed I bought it believing this. I wonder if this would get 3 stars if it didn't come with the high expectations attached to a Jodi Picoult book. Would give 4 1/2 stars if that were possible, 9 out of 10.
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on 5 December 2006
I became a big Jodi Picoult fan after reading My Sister's Keeper, Plain Truth, The Pact and Keeping Faith. I have however been disappointed of late with the predictability of Ms Picoults novels, especially Vanishing Acts & Salem Falls and I'm afraid Mercy will also be joining the shelf of disappointment.

If you take out all the parts of this book about the Scottish link then all you're left with is a guy who kills his wife and goes on trial for it. The question is whether he murdered his wife or if it was a mercy killing. Basically it's the same Picoult formula and if you've read any of her previous books you'll know the ending before you even start. That wasn't so much what disappointed me. What disappointed me is the way the book just ended. There was no big climax.....everybody just went along about their day. It was a real let-down I have to say.

I'm currently debating if I can be bothered reading the Tenth Circle and to be honest I think I'll give it a while for my current disappointment to dissipate first. I can't cope with one more predictable ending right now!
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on 6 August 2010
Cameron Macdonald the fifth is the police chief in a small town called Wheelock, and leader of the original Scottish clan that settled there, not that he wants to be. He wanted to be a travel writer, but when his father died had to take the position of police chief the same way his father, grandfather, and other ancestors before him had.

Then, one day, two new arrivals in town totally turn Cam's world upside down, for two totally different reasons.

The first is Jamie Macdonald, Cam's third cousin, who turns up with his dead wife Maggie in the passenger seat of his car, and confesses to killing her.

The second is a girl called Mia who takes a job at Cam's wife's flower shop, and turns Cam's head.

Thus begins the story, which seems mainly to be about right and wrong.

Jamie has killed his wife Maggie after a long bout of terminal metastatic breast cancer, and he did it at her request because she was sick of feeling out of control, and knew that the cancer would kill her sooner or later. It's ultimately an act of love, but it's still murder, and Jamie ends up arrested but released on bail pending his hearing. Another interesting turn of events though, is that even though Cam is the one to arrest his cousin, he's also the one to hire him a lawyer, as he sees the difficult circumstances of the case, and feels a little torn himself on whether Maggie's death was right or wrong.

Mia is a girl whose parents were so in love with each other that they ignored her most of the time, and as such she is quiet and unassuming, although for some reason when Cam meets her he feels like he knows her. As they get to know each other a little better they discover that at least twice in the past they have been within seeing distance of each other but never met, and when Cam's wife leaves the town for a few days to help Jamie with his court case, they admit to having feelings for one other and begin an affair. Again though, this is also a story about right and wrong, about how Cam knows that it is wrong to cheat on his wife, but also knows that it is wrong not to be with Mia who he realises he also loves.

The two story lines in this book interlink well, and the similarities are obvious - Jamie loved his wife enough to let her go, but can Cam do the same? Will Jamie be convicted of his wife's murder, even though she asked him to do it?

This book is a really enjoyable read, and you can't help but feel for the characters as they try to work through such difficult times, you also find yourself wanting to know what will happen, what decisions each will make, and what will happen in the end. I didn't expect this to be such an enjoyable read, but having read it feel sure that I will pick it up to read again in the future. Buy it - it's worth it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 November 2010
My first experience of this author was her superb book 'House Rules', which set such a high standard that I was a bit disappointed by 'Mercy'. The latter deals with the powerful topic of mercy-killing, but unlike the author's other books,that are also explorations of important moral issues, the force of the main story is diluted by too many distractions including supernatural phenomena, descriptions of relationships verging on Mills & Boon and unnecessary excursions into an over-romanticized version of the Scottish Jacobite rebellion. I've probably been a bit harsh in only giving the book 3 stars, but knowing what the author can do influenced my rating.

This was an early book for the author and it's interesting to see how she has developed as a writer between 1996, when Mercy was published, and, say, House Rules or Handle with Care which are much more recent and in which she has pruned the superfluous descriptions and excessive use of similes and has developed a more acerbic and satirically humorous style to her writing.

One word of warning, if you've just been diagnosed with breast cancer give this book a miss as the "victim" of the mercy killing is dying horribly from metastatic breast cancer, but be comforted by the fact that since the early 1990s, when this work was written, the treatments and the prognosis for the disease have greatly improved.
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on 2 January 2007
The first book I read by JP was My Sisters Keeper which I thought was amazing. I then read Perfect Match which was also brilliant. Based on those 2 books I bought as many JP books as I could, then tried to gobble them up as quickly as possible. Unfortunately I have not read anything as good as those first two books.

I found the main character in this book to be just so dreary and wishy washy that I almost sympathised with her adulterous husband. She was such a drain to read about that I found myself almost skimming the parts she featured in. She was also a bit stupid not to realise what her hubby and only friend were up to. I need my main characters to have more backbone than this. If you're going to lay down in front of people dont be surprised if they walk over you.

There was just not enough in this book to hold my interest. Even the main thread of the book - euthanasia - wasn't written in a way which made the topic controversial and I did not find that I was battling with my own thoughts as I was with My Sisters Keeper about the rights and wrongs.

Quite a let down I'm afraid.
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on 2 January 2010
Mercy focuses on the issue of euthanasia, and the balance of love within a relationship. The storyline follows two couples, Allie and Cam McDonald, and Jamie and Maggie McDonald. Cam McDonald is the police chief of Wheelock, Massachusetts and has been married to Allie for 7 years. Allie runs the town flower shop, and spends her day thinking of ways to make her husbands life easier. Allie is completely devoted to Cam, and there is a clear imbalance within the relationship. Even the stories that are told of their early relationship increase the sense that she gave up a lot of her own personality to be the perfect wife to Cam. This made me feel quite uneasy, and loose respect for Allie. I do not believe this was intentional on the part of the author, as Allie increasingly appears to be the central character and has a strength of will towards the end that comes from nowhere and is hard to believe. Allie however seems like a good woman, trying her best and wishing her husband was as happy with his lot in life as she is. Characterisation generally is weak, Cam seems a poor role model for the citizens, constantly wishing to be elsewhere and escape his own life, which seems pretty good in reality.

The character of Mia enters the town the same day as Jamie and Maggie. However the reason for her appearance in town is never explored, and neither is her apparent connection to Cam. This turns their relationship into a torrid affair which I had no interest in reading about, there is nothing exciting or new about extra-marital sex. By the time Allie discovered the affair I had no interest in whether she stayed or left. Despite, or possibly due to, the spoiler at the start of the book, I strongly suspected she would stay. What happens to Mia after she suddenly and for no reason looses interest in Cam is also not explored.

The main storyline is supposedly about Jamie McDonald's arrest due to killing his wife, Maggie, who suffered with terminal cancer. The portrait painted of Maggie is one of a fairly selfish woman, who Jamie spent his life trying to please, drawing parallels between his relationship and that of his cousin Cam and Allie. This storyline is very poorly explored compared to the rambling sections on Mia and Cam or the day to day mundane details of Allie's life. I enjoy reading Jodie Picoult as she usually fully explores the legal and moral arguments of important ethical debates, however I felt this was only lightly explored, and I did not experience the same build up and tension as the court case drew closer I usually expect with her books. Jamie seems to care little about whether he is acquitted, and his character experiences such strong personality swings I am left wondering if he is mentally imbalanced. Jamie begins seeing Maggie's ghost towards the end of the book, I wonder if this is a sense of guilt or regret manifesting in physical form, or if he has become a little crazy as a result of loosing the woman who made up his entire life. Again however this is not explored.

Language seemed simplistic and ordinary in places, I did not feel that it pitched to an adult of average intelligence and it was a quick read despite being nearly 500 pages.

I am a big fan of Jodie Picoult, however I felt this book was not her best work, and would not recommend it to a reader interesting in exploring her work. Even as a fan, I can not say I was impressed by this book, and do not intend to re-read this. She did not influence my views or make me think further about euthanasia, and I expected more from such a good author.
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on 24 March 2008
The first Jodi Picoult I ever read was The Pact, which I totally loved, and I have since read four more of her novels, Mercy included. Mercy is not as good as some of her others, but it is much more un-put-downable than Vanishing Acts, with which I toiled to finish.

I quite liked the two stories which were running side by side in Mercy, that of the mercy killing of Maggie who has cancer by her devoted husband and that of the affair between Cam and Mia, juxtaposed with Cam's relationship with his wife. These two plots made you think about the balance between people who are in relationships - is there always someone who loves more? I was also pleasantly surprised that Cam's wife, Allie, got really angry when she discovered her husband's infidelity, rather than remaining a "door mat." She seemed to become so much stronger and I do think that this could happen after a weak spouse finds out how she has been betrayed. I then enjoyed watching how Cam reacted to this extreme change in his wife's feelings and actions towards him. I felt that it was all quite believable.

Some reviewers have complained about the predictable trial and Jodi Picoult is an author who does follow a formula. However, I did look forward to this and the novel's conclusion.

Had I read this novel as my first Picoult, I may not have returned to her so many times, but as I know how amazing she can be (The Pact, My Sister's Keeper and Salem Falls) I can take Mercy for what it is: a reasonably gripping book which is a fairly enjoyable read.
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on 25 January 2007
I am a really big fan of Jodi Picoult and have read all of her previous books but I was left disappointed with this one. It is not one of her best. I felt that the characters were unbelievable and I found myself not really caring what happens - which has never happened with Picoult's previous books. It took me a long time to read but I did finish it I found it a predictable story with not much drama.
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on 10 September 2008
This is the first Picoult novelI have read and I would read another. The characters are well drawn and you can feel some empathy for them, then suddenly they become 2dimensional and start doing things which just seem to be totally out of the character described earlier. I agree with previous reviews that the Scottish flashbacks and 'connection' to Wheelock are pointless, for a community which looks up to Cam and respects his position, he has very little interaction with them! The story of Jamie and Maggie seemed very much on the periphery of the main action and juxtaposing euthanasia and extra marital affairs just didn't ring true to me. I think the court case really dragged and found the ending a little bit corny. The novel felt a bit like a pitch for a film/screenplay. I have been recommended to read other Jodi Picoult books and so, although I didn't love this one, it was still readable and I would read another novel by this author.
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