Thursday, March 28, 2013

Audio Book Review: Defending Jacob, by William Landay

Defending Jacob was recommended by a friend as a book that was similar to Gone Girl. While I didn't really find that to be true, Defending Jacob is an interesting and twisted tale of murder.

Jacob Barber is a kind of a weird, misfit, 14-year-old kid. His father, Andy, is the assistant district attorney for a suburban area outside of Boston. When a classmate of Jacob's is stabbed and killed in a park on the way to school one day, all of their lives change forever.

Andy is in charge of the case. It is discovered that the murdered boy was bullying Jacob, and Jacob had purchased a knife. When some evidence is found at the scene that points to Jacob, Andy is quickly removed from the case, as well as his job, and he finds himself sitting at the table for the defense.

The story is told by Andy, as he is testifying before a grand jury. He tells the entire story, of the investigation, the trial, and the several months after the trial, as he is testifying. The reader never knows why Andy is testifying until the very end. The reader also doesn't know whether Jacob is guilty or not. Andy is adamant that his son is not a killer, but Andy's family history of murderers, as well as Jacob's evaluation by a psychiatrist have Jacob's mother, Laurie, doubting Jacob's innocence.

I found Defending Jacob to be a bit long, and too detailed. It was even repetitive in spots. This could be because I was listening to the audio, which admittedly takes longer than reading, but in this case, I really think the story could have been edited some more.

And, while there were some twists and unexpected events, I anticipated most of them well before they happened. I still enjoyed Defending Jacob, and the very end was not expected (the part about why he is testifying), so that helped.

The narrator, Grover Gardner, was very good. His voice did not detract from the story. There were a few times, during dialog, that there wasn't enough distinction between the characters to tell who was speaking, but this wasn't a huge issue.

Defending Jacob was nowhere near as shocking or psychologically twisted as Gone Girl, but if you go in without that expectation, it's a solid story of murder and how it can affect a family. I would recommend it to readers who enjoy those stories, including my teens.

Published by Delacorte (Blackstone Audio), 2012
Copy obtained from the library
432 pages

Rating: 3/5

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1 comment:

  1. I'm happy to read your thoughts on this book, Annette. I thought it was a disturbing book. I, too, thought it had some issues - I thought Jacob's character was written as a kind of cardboard cutout of a teenager, and one that was older than 14 at that. But I did like the book even though there were things that bothered me. Thanks for sharing! :)


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