The Readers Nook

Review: House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Posted by SalesianLibrary on June 5, 2010

Title: House Rules: A Novel
Jodi Picoult
Publication Date: March 2010
Location in Library: Under PIC in the Fiction section

Blurb: House Rules is about Jacob Hunt, a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject – in his case, forensic analysis. He’s always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do…and he’s usually right. But then one day his tutor is found dead, and the police come to question him. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger’s – not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, inappropriate affect – can look a heck of a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel — and suddenly, Jacob finds himself accused of murder.
(Blurb taken from the Good Reads website.)

My Thoughts: Jacob Hunt is a teenage boy with Aspegers Syndrome. He can’t look people in the eye, can’t relate to other people’s feelings, often says innappropriate things, has ticks and twitches he can’t control especially when he’s upset, can only wear and eat certain colours on certain days and needs to take breaks in a special room to calm himself down, amongst other things. Jacob is also obsessed with forensics, and often shows up at crime scenes to help the police. All of these things are characteristics of a person with Aspergers. However, when Jacob’s tutor, Jess is found dead the police come to the conclusion that these characteristics also point towards Jacob being guilty of her murder.

After a couple of disappointing releases Jodi Picoult is back to her usual fantastic work with House Rules. I literally flew through this book just because I didn’t want to put it down. I found all the details about the court case and Aspergers Syndrome really interesting and I now know a lot more about both of these topics than I did before. What I liked most about House Rules was how Picoult made Jacob a character I could empathise with and grow to like. I have read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night and didn’t have this experience with that book at all. I also liked how you got to see each person’s point of view as Picoult had her chapters from various people’s point of view. So you got to see the impact Jacob’s Aspergers and his court case have on his mother, Emma and his brother, Theo and also get the story from the point of view of Jacob’s lawyer, Oliver and the police officer that arrested him. The ending was a little predictable, I had solved the case before I was halfway through the book, but I still enjoyed reading on to see if I was right and to see how exactly the story would end up.

I definitely recommend House Rules!

Rating: ****


3 Responses to “Review: House Rules by Jodi Picoult”

  1. […] Review: House Rules by Jodi Picoult « The Readers Nook […]

  2. Amber said

    House Rules by Jodi Picoult: My Qualms

    • Jacob is far too smart to leave his quilt lying on Jess’s dead body if he had been the killer. He would KNOW that it would lead back to him – why did no one make this obvious conclusion??
    • We know that neither Jacob nor Theo killed Jess because they clearly say so in their first person accounts.
    • Why does NO ONE ask the direct question to Jacob of, “Did you kill Jess O?”?? They know he has extreme Asbergers and has to be asked very direct questions.
    • It is very clear that Jess dies not from being killed, but from early on in Theo’s account when he said she, “slipped.” Her hematoma clearly was caused from that and not a killer.
    • Mark McGuire, the boyfriend, is never a convincing candidate as the murderer and the reader is never really wonders if he is.
    • Picoult shouldn’t have ever put Theo’s side of the Jess story in because he doesn’t even end up telling anyone else about it in the story anyway…that revelation could have waited until the very end for THAT to be the twist (his involvement).
    • As the book stands, the reader already knew that Theo had been in the house with Jess. So, when Jacob goes home to look at the fingerprints from the things he’s confiscated from the house, it’s very clear that the “matching” prints he found were not his own, but HAD to be Theo’s. That being the case, it was super easy to deduce that Jacob was protecting Theo the whole time since he thought Theo was the one to kill Jess. “Don’t tell on your brother; he’s all you’ve got.” The book also makes it clear in a couple instances that Jacob thought Theo was the killer anyway (i.e. the interaction where Jacob implies as much when he and Theo are talking alone in his room).

    Note: Truly the ONLY question I had throughout this entire book was not: How did Jacob know Theo was there in the first place, so he’d know to specifically look for his prints? It was the only lingering question for me that wasn’t answered until the end.

    I am so disappointed in this book. The information about Asbergers, court room procedure in general, and the struggling mother was phenomenal. Jacob’s character was so wonderful to become engrossed by, and the plot could have been unreal. It was just so predictable that I found myself really frustrated at the end that I had been right from about half-way through the book.

    • ida khan said

      Jacob knew Theo was there at the “crime scene” because he saw the tread from the bottom of Theo’s sneakers and he is so familiar with the tread because he has been using Theo’s sneakers for his fake crime scenes at home.

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