THE TENTH CIRCLE by Jodi Picoult


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Picoult (Vanishing Act, 2005, etc.) fumbles in this 13th novel of, predictably, a family in crisis.

To all outward appearances, the family Stone seems a happy trio: Mother Laura teaches Dante at the local university; her 14-year-old Trixie is popular, dating the town’s high school hockey hero Jason Underhill; and Daniel, a stay-at-home dad, has finally hit it big with the debut of his own comic book, The Tenth Circle. Inspired by his wife’s work, Daniel’s hero Duncan/Wildclaw descends into hell in search of his kidnapped daughter (sections of the comic book, illustrated by Dustin Weaver, appear at the end of each chapter). As his alter ego tours the circles of hell with Virgil, Daniel’s family begins to unravel: On the night that Trixie is raped by her boyfriend, Daniel discovers Laura has been having an affair with a student. Picoult usually infuses a bit of suspense into her dramas, and this effort is no different as Trixie’s testimony comes into question—is Trixie just out for revenge on the boyfriend who dumped her? As the DA and detective try to build a rape case, Trixie becomes ostracized at school, continues to self-mutilate and then finally attempts suicide. She’s saved in time, but soon after her recovery, Jason is found dead, and it’s beginning to look like Trixie killed him. Afraid she’ll be charged with Jason’s murder, Trixie runs away to the Alaskan Eskimo village where Daniel was raised (and tormented as the only white boy), forcing Daniel to confront his past, save his daughter, save his marriage and make everything okay in the universe, as every superhero should.

As a third-act whodunit—the culprit is an easy guess—the story fails. Picoult, who is so often an inventive and compelling storyteller, relies here on convention and sentimentality.

Pub Date: March 7th, 2006
ISBN: 0-7434-9670-1
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2005

Kirkus Interview
Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer
authors of OFF THE PAGE
May 19, 2015

Meet Oliver, a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale and transported into the real world. Meet Delilah, the girl who wished Oliver into being. In bestseller Jodi Picoult and her daughter Samantha van Leer’s new young adult novel, Off the Page, it’s a miracle that seems perfect at first—but there are complications. To exist in Delilah’s world, Oliver must take the place of a regular boy. Enter Edgar, who agrees to play Oliver’s role in the pages of Delilah’s favorite book. But just when it seems that the plan will work, everything gets turned upside down. We talk to the mother-daughter team on Kirkus TV. View video >


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