Saturday, July 31, 2010

BR: House Rules

by Jodi Picoult

Okay, I actually sincerely promise this one will be short!! Promise!! I bought this one because it was only 11 dollars, and it looked really fascinating. Also, I loved some of Jodi Picoult's other books.

Summary (goodreads):
House Rules is about Jacob Hunt, a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject – in his case, forensic analysis. He’s always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do…and he’s usually right. But then one day his tutor is found dead, and the police come to question him. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger’s – not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, inappropriate affect – can look a heck of a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel -- and suddenly, Jacob finds himself accused of murder. House Rules looks at what it means to be different in our society, how autism affects a family, and how our legal system works well for people who communicate a certain way – but lousy for those who don’t.

My Expectations: Picoult has some really good books (My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes) and some so-so ones (The Pact). This one looked pretty good, but my expectations were lukewarm.

Deliver: Ehh, I really loved some parts, others were okay.

Put-down-ability: a 500+ page book all read in one day. Says good things, a 2/10

My Thoughts

I don’t have any personal experience with autism or Aspergers so I don’t want to be one of those people who trash the author for getting symptoms and diagnosis wrong. However, Jacob’s "characterization" didn’t work for me.

In my promise of short and sweet, I’ll just give you this example: I thought David Levithan’s Will Grayson's sexuality did not define his person, but it added levels of depth to his characterization. In House Rules, I felt that the fact that Jacob had Aspergers was everything to him (it was like his one and only “level of depth”), and I didn’t like that. Every other page, his symptoms and actions would be spelled out repetitively, from his tantrums to his everyday quirks. It became mundane and just too much, I wish the author would have cut back on it. Yes, I understand he is autistic, no, I don’t need to read about it page after page.

That said, I personally think the author intended and purposely did this, which makes me not really love the book in general. However, I can’t deny that (as per Picoult’s signature style) each character is well fleshed out as usual, and my favourite character would be Theo (I can't help but love the underdogs, haha). Didn’t really feel Emma’s relationship, nor was I convinced by it.

Really enjoyed the forensic aspect, and guessed the mystery by page 150 (I swear! I was ecstatic to know I was right :p), these parts felt thoroughly researched. One thing I particularly enjoyed was the expertly portrayed family dynamics.

Parting Thoughts: I bought Perfect Match by Picoult as well, so I hope it will be better! (read it, it wasn't better D:)
Rating in HP Terms: Acceptable

7.5/10 – because (do I really need to recap? It’s such a short review! Haha) I disliked the way Jacob’s character was handled, but liked the overall storyline. Alternating perspectives worked in the author’s favour and writing is excellent. B-


  1. It sounds interesting . . . I like reading books on people who have such-and-such syndrome, since it can help to understand the people better.

  2. That's a really good point. Jacob's character did seem defined by his syndrome-- and totally agree about Emma's relationship! I thought it was really, really out of place...

    Theo was also my favourite character, although it took me a bit longer to figure out the mystery!

  3. I haven't had much luck with Jodi Picoult before, but then again, I haven't read My Sister's Keeper or Nineteen Minutes. I LOVE IT when I actually guess the solution of a mystery - proving to others that I did is a bit difficult though. :P Also, 500 pages in a day? Wow!

    I think I will not make House Rules a priority, but will check out the others you mentioned, since some of her main characters in her other books irked me.


  4. aww shame you didn't warm to it, i loved the pact!!! my fav of hers, thanks for the honest review hun!!! :)

  5. Sad you didn't like; I loved it but you laid out clear reasons for why you didn't. I have to agree Picoult writes some very quick reads even when they're long.

    I'm also impressed that you figured out the murderer; despite the fact that it's such a small cast of characters, I didn't.

  6. The Golden Eagle- That's true, I guess. It really sounds like Picoult did her research.

    Linna- Yeah, I didn't get the whole Emma thing... And go Theo? haha, thanks for the comment :)

    Elle- Hehe, I'm usually wrong about mysteries xD I do hope you try some Picoult books!

    Aly- Thanks for the comment! :]

  7. Bookworm1858- whoopsies, missed you! I'm really glad you liked it more than I did, Picoult is a really talented author! Haha, I usually don't so I got to do a happy dance, lol xD


for those who are confused, it means "Don't forget to be AWESOME". *hugs*