Title: A Spark of Light
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: Out now
A backstory to how I came to be reading this book. I originally applied for this book on NetGalley and was declined due to its popularity. I kept seeing it pop up everywhere and I was certainly intrigued by the premise of the book, so I pre-ordered it.
I’ve only ever read one other Picoult book before – it must’ve been 10 years ago – and I don’t remember specifically why I didn’t like it but I definitely didn’t like it and have stayed away from her books since. I mentioned to a friend I had pre-ordered A Spark of Light and she immediately told me I was making a mistake and not to do it. After a little bit of back and fore, I managed to persuade her to buddy read it with me (if you’re reading this I am so sorry and totally owe you a cup of tea).
You can see this has gone well, can’t you?
What I liked
The Legal System
There isn’t a whole lot I liked about this book but highlighting the flaws of laws in various US states and its legal/judicial system is excellently done. As someone who is not familiar with the US legal system (apart from the basic knowledge that laws vary from state to state), I was shocked by some of the laws and how they are applied.
The fact that someone can ruin a young person’s life just to progress in their career is abhorrent and I think Picoult has done well to make people aware of these matters.
What I didn’t like
I am all for books that start at the end. There are some fantastic examples of this trope out there. A Spark of Light is not one of them. It’s confusing and unclear. You can’t build up any sort of relationship with the characters.
No spoilers here but if you do decide to read the book then you won’t find they are twists either. I worked them out fairly early on and one of them, in particular, is just the biggest cliche. The book may have been better if there were not any twists!
For the most part, the writing is dull. You can read page after page and get nothing from it. Equally, you can skip four or five pages at a time and be no worse off for it. I felt like I was continually skimming the surface of what was being said.
I wanted to applaud Picoult for taking on a subject that most people have a strong opinion on, but I can’t because I don’t feel she’s done the topic justice. There are some parts where she makes an excellent contrast between being pro-life or pro-choice but they’re sporadic and don’t fit into the rest of the book. It’s like reading a student’s essay where they’ve cut and pasted in random bits of information from the internet.
But the bit that absolutely finished me off with this book is the graphic description of the surgical procedure. Wow. It doesn’t need to be there. Truly a mistake on Picoult’s part because it swings the book from being on the fence to being pro-life (in my opinion). At this point, I threw the book down in a rage, I just couldn’t read anymore.
Would I recommend this book? No. I’m afraid I can’t. If you’re a fan of Picoult’s work then you may well have a totally different opinion on the book and that’s totally fine.
I hate writing negative reviews but I’m here to do a job and I hope I’ve been fair in my appraisal.
Have you read A Spark of Light? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.