Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Appeal – John Grisham ------ 2.5 STARS

I used to love John Grisham. I think I have read all of his books, and I used to think the Pelican Brief and The Client were the greatest things ever. Things have changed, however. Either his books are getting dumber or I am getting smarter (most definitely going to go with the latter).

I just finished Grisham’s new (I would say newest but I think the dude puts out like two books a year and I just can’t keep up any more) book titled The Appeal. As I said previously, things have changed. This book did not grab me like his other books. It did not seem to have the same breakneck pace of others book. It even did not have a great ending like his other books.

The book, as you can probably guess, is about a court case that gets appealed. The novel is told in three parts, the case, the election of a judge, and the opinion. Basically, Grisham uses the same old formula for this book as he has done for every other book he has written since I was in Middle School. Take a group that is wronged (in this case poor Southern folk who contracted cancer in a small Mississippi town) have them go up against the money grubbing corporation (chemical company that dumped toxins – tagged team with billionaire stock dude Carl Trudeau) and watch as they end up obtaining justice (while losing a few people along the way – in this case, 17 dead cancer patients and a bankrupt married lawyer couple).

The really unfortunate thing about this book, however, is that Grisham forget the one best part of his FICITIONAL books – the bad guys won in this one! Sorry I ruined this for all you avid Grisham fans, but really you can still read it and get as little out of it as I did. Real quick, basic plot: people get sick, win the case in lower court for $41 million, it gets appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, rich business people buy a seat on the Supreme Court because they have judicial elections in Mississippi, the case gets to the Supreme Court and the new Justice has to decide the case.

What’s frustrating to no end is that you realize once this guy gets to the Supreme Court he will go against the original ruling and not give the poor people their money but then something (a miracle almost?) happens to him and his family and you are left hoping he LEARNED something from it and maybe grew a HEART. But alas, things don’t work out that well.

The only somewhat redeeming characteristic of the book, and probably the reason for the less than joyful ending, was Grisham’s message to the audience of the book – be careful about judicial elections. Basically, he believes, justice (I guess you could call it that) can be purchased; i.e. if you elect certain people to a court, they will vote certain ways. I never knew that this was a big problem but I guess it is since Grisham wrote about it and even wrote a sad ending to make us realize what an issue it is.

Overall, the book is a quick read, keeps you fairly interested and makes a useful (maybe?) point about judicial elections. Just don’t expect your brain to really be piqued or an ending that pleases. 2.5 STARS.

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