Overall rating and opinion of Defending Jacob

Discuss the September 2015 book of the month Defending Jacob by William Landay
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gali
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Overall rating and opinion of Defending Jacob

Post by gali » 03 Sep 2015, 08:09

Please use this topic to discuss your overall opinion of the September 2015 book of the month. If you have not already, please add your rating for Defending Jacob using the book's page on Bookshelves.

How did you like the book? What do you like most? What do you like least? Would you recommend the book for others to read? Why or why not?

-- September 3rd, 2015, 4:19 pm --

I am reading it right now and enjoy it so far, though some parts do drag out. It certainly raises some interesting questions (such as how far a parent would go to protect his child). I am also curios to find out whether the kid is guilty or not. 8)
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by bookowlie » 03 Sep 2015, 08:59

I read this book last year and loved it! It was probably the best book I read in 2014. I would definitely (and have already!) recommend this book to anyone who likes a thought-provoking story. I am rereading it just to refresh my memory of some of the minor details.

My favorite parts of the book are the main character Andy's reactions and behavior. It was a really good plot device that he is the Assistant D.A. and has to grapple with ethical questions about protecting his son. The case gets taken out of his hands early on in the investigation for obvious reasons. Still, it's fascinating to watch Andy as he uncovers little pieces of evidence that may or may not be pertinent, and how he deals with it. Andy's wife Laurie slowly deteriorates from the stress as any mother would. I liked seeing how the two parents reacted differently over the course of the book. Everything was so realistic that I felt like I was reading a true story.

I liked how the author made their son Ben, the suspect, a relatively minor, less fleshed out character. This way I was able to view the investigation like a detective would.

My least favorite parts were the sections about whether there can be a genetic predisposition to violence and if violence runs in Andy's family on his father's side. I'm sure these sections will be interesting to many readers. However, I thought these parts of the story were too clinical and dragged a bit.

I am not going to discuss my thoughts about the ending as I'm sure many members haven't finished the book yet. Maybe we can discuss what we think about the ending later in a week or so.
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Post by ashley_claire » 03 Sep 2015, 10:55

I started out really enjoying this book, but liked it less and less as it went on. I couldn't relate to Laurie and how she reacted when finding out about Andy's family history. It would take a lot more than that to question the entire 30 year relationship I had with my spouse.

My eyes glazed over a bit every time a teenager had dialogue. They all had exactly the same voice and there were only so many times I could take reading "like, you know". I know teenagers aren't the most forthcoming or eloquent, but all I could think about was that the author was trying too hard to sound like a stereotypical teenager.

I actually didn't mind the ending, it certainly leaves a lot open for discussion. Possible spoiler~ I still have no idea whether I think Ben did it or not.

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Post by bookowlie » 03 Sep 2015, 11:17

ashley_claire wrote:I started out really enjoying this book, but liked it less and less as it went on. I couldn't relate to Laurie and how she reacted when finding out about Andy's family history. It would take a lot more than that to question the entire 30 year relationship I had with my spouse.

My eyes glazed over a bit every time a teenager had dialogue. They all had exactly the same voice and there were only so many times I could take reading "like, you know". I know teenagers aren't the most forthcoming or eloquent, but all I could think about was that the author was trying too hard to sound like a stereotypical teenager.

I actually didn't mind the ending, it certainly leaves a lot open for discussion. Possible spoiler~ I still have no idea whether I think Ben did it or not.
Interesting points! I thought it was clear whether Ben did it or not, although I am not going to give a spoiler right now. The author used a subtle way of giving the answer, in my opniion. As for Laurie, I think the stress of the investigation took its toll on her marriage; finding out about Andy's family history was just another straw that "weakened the camel's back."
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Post by MrsDs_artroom » 04 Sep 2015, 12:47

I felt the same way, I started out liking this book much more than I liked it towards the end. I don't know if I could be like Andy- being so sure of his son. I agree the whole investigation took a toll on the marriage, and I can see his past pushing her to the limit- but I hope that I would be able to stick it out because they had what seemed like such a strong love. The ending was good and interesting. I feel like I know but there is always a question if I am right or not.

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Post by zeldas_lullaby » 05 Sep 2015, 15:07

This is probably just me, but I'm on page 15 or so, and the writing style is bugging me. The author appears to be using sentence fragments.

The grief-stunned family was next door in the living room, old grandmas, baby cousins.

I knocked, opened it, poked my head in to peek around.

He nodded, looked off toward the center of the room, disappointed.


AND! AND! AND! AND! :doh: :doh: :doh:

I'm sure I may sound like a whiner, but as I've gotten older, I've become more discerning, and this sort of thing bugs me. I know the author knows about the word "and." I think it's become trendy to write this way, but I don't care for it at all.

If I make it further, I'll share my thoughts about the story itself, which the above isn't really a reflection of.

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Post by gali » 05 Sep 2015, 21:54

I finished the book and enjoyed most of it. Some parts dragged on and the plot wasn't tight enough in my view. One of the strong points of the book is the way it kept us guessing whether Jacob is innocent or guilty until the very end (Ben was the victim), and it certainly kept me guessing and in suspense. I thought the twist at the end was a bit too much and some parts unbelievable. I also couldn't relate to Laurie and her attitude. Jacob's personality wasn't developed enough for me and I found Andy irritating at times. A good book overall, if a bit repetitive in places, and I rated it 3 stars.

If you want to discuses specifics (aka spoilers), you can open a new thread. 8)
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Post by bookowlie » 06 Sep 2015, 09:17

Gali, I agree that Andy was annoying at times. I think the author purposely made Jacob a vague, less redeveloped character. This way the readers wouldn't get to know him enough to form their opinion of his guilt from knowing him "personally", other than from his parents' thoughts and the evidence.
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Post by gali » 06 Sep 2015, 12:29

bookowlie wrote:Gali, I agree that Andy was annoying at times. I think the author purposely made Jacob a vague, less redeveloped character. This way the readers wouldn't get to know him enough to form their opinion of his guilt from knowing him "personally", other than from his parents' thoughts and the evidence.
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Post by bookowlie » 06 Sep 2015, 12:54

Sometimes I just wanted to shake some sense into Andy.
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Post by lmmallia » 09 Sep 2015, 22:46

This is the 2nd time I read this book. When I first bought it not too long after it was released I was really excited to read it but I remembered being a little disappointed. When I saw it was going to be the Book of the Month I realized that I couldn't even recall the plot so it definitely didn't stick with me.

This time I enjoyed the book much more. I think it is because I have kids of my own now so as I read it I was also thinking about what I would do if I were in that situation with one of my children.

I agree with Gali on her comments about Laurie. I felt like her character kind of waffled back and forth in the book which I'm sure was intentional to show her inner struggle about her feelings of Jacob's innocence but I didn't find it very convincing.

This is kind of random but did this book remind anyone else of that guy who the police thought was involved in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba? I looked up the dates and this book was written after both incidents so I wondered if maybe William Landay drew on that story for inspiration.

I found it pretty suspenseful and I enjoyed it. I rate it 3 stars.
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Post by bookowlie » 14 Sep 2015, 09:35

I thought the author created a believable character in Laurie, with her waffling back and forth.

I also wondered if a true crime was the inspiration for this book. I didn't think of the Natalee Holloway case. I wondered if there was a case involving a teenager committing a murder against a child.
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Post by ktrum » 16 Sep 2015, 17:50

I just finished reading "Defending Jacob" today and I must say I agree with all the posts so far. I thought, at times, the book dragged, and I was tired of the teens' responses to any question asked of them. I also couldn't put the book down; I was hoping to find out who did it so I continued to try to finish this book. The ending surprised me and of course, who actually killed the young Ben Rifkin never really gets addressed but almost all through the book I believe I know who killed Ben. The issue that really bothered me was Andy; how he changed sides from being the ADA and on the side of justice/trying to find the real killer and was now the father of a possible criminal. He seemed to be in constant denial of any of his son's strange behavior yet he never really seemed to talk to his son. With all of this, I still truly enjoyed the book; also enjoyed how Andy truly "believed in the system" yet to me, did everything possible to thwart finding the real killer. I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars!

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Post by lmmallia » 19 Sep 2015, 00:56

@ ashley_claire- I felt the same way about Laurie's reaction to Andy's past. I could understand being upset or hurt that my husband didn't trust me to share his history but I wouldn't let it put what otherwise seemed to be a good relationship into jeopardy.
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Post by TrishaAnn92 » 19 Sep 2015, 09:35

I am in the process of reading it now. Right from the beginning I thought the book was interesting.
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