I bought this book on Kobo since it was $3 during their Boxing Day sale. Plus, being a huge fan of Jodi Picoult, I was really interested to not only read all her books, but her first published novel in particular. Often first novels may be ground breaking and brilliant, others may not be. In this case, my actual rating is 4.5 since I enjoyed this story very much and having also read Jodi’s very recent novels, as well as some that are older, the same artistic style to her writing is still present. If this is your first novel by Picoult, I don’t think this is the one to start with and this is why:
I read some lines of negative reviews and they gave their thoughts because they said the story is all over the place. Yes, this story is told backwards and is in essence a puzzle. Some events are repetitive but this novel is told in five voices, as said on the cover. Usual Jodi Picoult novels often have multiple narratives, but this is the first (maybe this will be the only time I’ll see this from Jodi) where she does rewrite the event, but in other characters view that were present. It was nice to see again because as I caught on, it’s almost like rereading your favourite book. The ending is revealed early on and being quite frank, of the close to dozen books by Picoult that I’ve read, this is the one that made my jaw drop. Literally. You keep reading and you know it’s going to happen. It’s bound to. And there’s nothing you can do about it. I loved it.
Before reading this, although great in story as it is, in today’s time, I would suggest reading her other newer work first. They can be from my favourite, The Pact or The Storyteller, to other recent novels she’s published that I’ve equally loved, Lone Wolf or Sing You Home, or other popular books Picoult is known for, such as Nineteen Minutes or My Sister’s Keeper. Once a loyal Picoult fan has gotten the feel to her own unique writing, Songs of the Humpback Whale will be a novel they don’t want to put down.
This being Jodi Picoult’s first published novel, I believe was different and unique from many others. For one thing, she’s not only taken on the multiple narratives I’m normally used to, but her same poetic style in her writing is evident; even back then.