Lovely Bones – film/book dazzle but unsettle as well

Katie Maxwell, Staff Reporter

The Lovely Bones written by Alice Sebold and directed by Peter Jackson is an interesting twist on the murder mystery genre. What makes it different are the softer tone and the perspective from which it is written.

The story is about a girl named Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) and her family as they recover from her murder. Susie was a typical fourteen year old girl growing up in a Pennsylvanian suburb with her parents, a younger sister named Lindsey (Rose McIver), and a younger brother named Buckley (Christian Ashdale). She had aspirations to become a wildlife photographer and had a crush on a boy named Ray Singh (Reece Ritchie).

Her promising life was ended on a chilly evening in December of 1973 by her neighbor, George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). An investigation was begun but never got very far because there was not enough evidence. As a result, Susie’s family was left to wonder what happened to her and cope with the loss in their own unique ways.

Meanwhile, Susie goes to Heaven and dutifully watches over her family and friends as they continue to live their lives without her. Ultimately this book provides an insight into forgiveness and the love of a family.

As a book, The Lovely Bones is very well written. It is captivating, suspenseful, and beautiful. Despite the graphic nature of some of the scenes and the sad content, this book keeps the reader interested. Alice Sebold continually makes the reader wonder what the characters will do next and whether or not George Harvey will ever be caught. Unfortunately, the readers may find an ending that feels insufficient.

As a movie, this story was even better than the book. The artistic style really was its shining star. Computer animation was used often, especially for the scenes of Heaven, but it did not seem garish or intrusive as in some movies. Instead, the animation added to the wonder and beauty that is usually associated with Heaven. The movie’s artistic style also extended into the portrayal of certain vital scenes, such as Susie’s murder, in a way that made the message clear to the audience without it being too graphic. The only negative aspect is that it cut out important plotlines that show what happens to the main characters as a result of Susie’s death.

In both the book and the movie, the characters are seen as very human and realistic. Their reactions to Susie’s death are true to the situation and are not uncommon. Only certain characteristics, such as seeing ghosts and trying to kill the murderer, are unrealistic. All they do is add to the story’s suspense, instead of helping to make the characters more human.

This story cannot be compared to any other in its genre. Yes, it is a murder mystery and yes, it does have someone devoted to solving it, but other than that it is entirely different. This story is more about love, forgiveness, and dealing with loss than finding out who was the murderer. It also is from Susie’s perspective instead of the person trying to solve the murder. Many readers cherish this book and many more will do the same.