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Comments for The Tenth Circle

The Tenth Circle: 11/18/14

cover art

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult is an issue novel about rape. Except it's so heavy handed that the book is laughable and groan-worthy instead of being insightful.

Trixie Stone is fourteen and the perfect daughter of the perfect man, a comic book artist raised in Alaska on Inuit reservation (meaning he's extra-special spiritual™). Before anything goes wrong, though, this perfect family is on the rocks, because the wife is carrying on an affair.

And that's where the problem starts, I suppose. It appears that both mother and daughter are attracted to the bad boys. Trixie, being too young, doesn't know how to handle herself or boys yet. But she's a teenager and full of RAGING hormones and she can't wait any longer.

The set up for the book is this: Trixie lies to her parents, saying she's going to be staying over at her friend's house. Instead they go to a big party where Trixie purposely gets drunk to the point where her inhibitions are gone so that she can have sex without regret. Except that midway through she changes her mind and her bad boy potential boyfriend doesn't stop when she asks him to.

So at first glance we have a straight up novel about the consequences of underage drinking, changing minds, and date rape. No problem. The book should be relevant.

But the plot gets lost in a heap of unnecessary literary window dressing. First there is the mother's scholarship on Dante's Inferno (hence the title). Rape of her daughter is a worse hell than anything thing Dante envisioned. Then there is the father returning to his Inuit upbringing (while still being a privileged white dude because I guess it would be too much to make him an actual Inuit). And finally there is the father working through his pain through his comics, which are included at the end of certain chapters (they aren't very good).

If that combination wasn't enough, the accused rapist is found dead about midway through the book, thus spinning this already unbelievable book into pure crazy land. If I were reading this book as a rape survivor or as a parent of one, I'd be furious after reading this shlock.

Two stars

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