Fiction — print. Atria, 2012. 421 pgs. Library copy.
I’m almost forgot Picoult released a new book this year until my mom spotted Lone Wolf on the new releases shelf of the library and asked me if I wanted to take it home with me. This book — her nineteenth and the sixteenth I’ve reviewed here on the blog — introduces readers to twenty-four year old Edward Warren who left his family after an irreparable fight with his father, Luke. He hasn’t seen or spoken to his father in six years and only has fleeting contact with his mother, Georgie, who divorced her husband after the fight.
His return as the prodigal son is not jump started by an apology but rather a frantic phone call from Georgie informing him that his dad lies comatose, gravely injured in the same accident that has also injured his younger sister Cara. With her father’s chances for recovery dwindling, Cara wants to wait for a miracle. But Edward wants to terminate life support and donate his father’s organs.
I’m going to go ahead and be brutally honest here — this is Picoult’s worst book to date. My first inclination was that my dislike of the book was due to the ethical dilemma Picoult chooses to address. I have quite decisive feelings towards life support and other heroic measures, feelings I am not willing to budge on. Ultimately, however, I’ve decided that the fault likes with the characters and the writing.
Even when I haven’t loved the storyline Picoult crafts, her characters have been what has pulled me through to the end. The characters in this book are so forced and stunted that it’s difficult to care one iota about them. Characters who are given whole chapters are nothing more than throw-away characters. The most egregious example of this Helen Bedd, the court-appointed temporary guardian. Introduced through brief interviews with Cara and Edward and a poorly written letter to the court naming one of them as guardian of their father with confusing justifications for her decision.
Picoult normally receives high praise for the amount of research she conducts for her books. This time, however, the research about wolf pack made her character seem distant and unrealistic, and oddly enough, adds the least to the overall plot. I can’t attest to her presentation of wolf pack behavior, although saying a man lived in the woods without survival gear for two years and subsisted on raw meat with the wolves moves this book from fictional to fairy tale territory. I can point one mistake that bugged me long after I turned the last page; she makes an egregious assumption that communities around Yellowstone National Park have come to accept the reintroduction of the wolf. A cursory glance at any one of the newspapers published in these towns would tell you how false that comment is.