Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Book Review: The Appeal

Somebody, please, stop me next time I say I'm going to read the newest John Grisham novel! Why do I keep doing this to myself? ("Because you're an idiot," one of my favorite quotes from the 80s classic Heathers.) Here's my question: what is up with John Grisham? His first novel, A Time to Kill, was excellent. I enjoyed A Painted House, and I actually thought that his nonfiction The Innocent Man was fantastic. (Read my review here.)

But The Appeal is just like all those dozens of lawsuit novels in between A Time to Kill and The Innocent Man: bad dialogue and stereotypical characters. But what really, really bugs me about Grisham is that he constantly abuses that writers' maxim: show, don't tell. He is always telling the reader how to think in his descriptions of people and situations. If a man drinks too much and wears a wrinkled brown suit, he is questionable and probably a washed-up lawyer. On the other hand, if a man wears a sharp, expensive suit, he is likely a slimy, big-business bad guy. It's the same in all Grisham novels. If Grisham wants the reader to feel a certain way about an issue, he practically tells us (in fact, sometimes he does). He wants to make sure we get his point. Sure, Grisham can tell a great story (although the plots of these novels all run together), but there is no craft to his writing. 

Well, except in A Time to Kill, The Painted House, and The Innocent Man. He needs to study his own works.

I actually threw the book on the floor and said, "I hated this book" when I finished it today, somewhere close to our destination of Williamsburg, Virginia. So there.

6 comments:

Amy said...

I agree. I haven't read The Appeal and I am not planning to but somewhere after A Time to Kill, everything started running together.

Dad2Three said...

John Grisham fell into the publishing trap of, "Hey, this worked nicely for you two or three times, so we want you to write ten more books just like these." He's talented enough to know better, but his judgement was blinded by the cash advances. I would add THE FIRM to the list of good works by Grisham, but that's just because I've worked for a bunch of guys who dress nicely but belong in jail.

SmallWorld Reads said...

I did like The Firm, too. I should have added that one.

Eileen said...

I'm #92 of #111 on the waiting list at the library for this book. :-) I have a feeling I'm going to agree with your review but I want to read it anyway. I really liked his first bunch of books but then not the last few. So we'll see.

Much Ado said...

"If a man drinks too much and wears a wrinkled brown suit, he is questionable and probably a washed-up lawyer. On the other hand, if a man wears a sharp, expensive suit, he is likely a slimy, big-business bad guy." I had to laugh out loud at this, it is so TRUE! I was about to buy this at the airport the other day and then in the end went for Playing for Pizza, I have heard it is a bit different from his other books?

Sakhi said...

I have not read the book but one of my friend has read it & reviewed it in batchmtes times:

http://www.batchmates.com/bmtimes/content.aspx?contentId=1778

NJOY!