Book name: Book of Two Names
Genre: Fantasy, sci-fi, drama, romance
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publishing Company: Random House/Ballentine
Summary: Complex, exhausting, extremely emotional reading.
Hmmm… you see the alarming bell which warns you there is an unpopular review is about to come and of course I never expected it’s happening because I just finished a compelling novel of one of my all-time favorite authors. And as soon as I read the blurb about second chances, the Sliding Door/what ifs theme and amazing journey to learn more about Ancient Egyptian culture, I started to whistle Bangles’ song and getting so excited about this promising adventure.
But as soon as I started flipping pages after the mind blowing start reminded of us Lost series’ beginning, Dawn Edelstein’ thankfully survives from the plane crash, my excitement hit to the roof! I wanted to see what was gonna happen next: After the imminent shock and her entire life flashed before her eyes, Dawn realizes there are things holding her back to have fulfilled life. And there are two paths appear in front of her: she may go back to her family life: husband she’s been married for 15 years and her 14 years old teenage girl. And of course her work at hospice as death doula is waiting for her. (Interesting choice of profession) Or she goes to Egypt and finishes her project she’s started 15 years ago when she has been working as an archaeologist but that means she has to meet with her first love of her life: Wyatt.
So we read her two paths and we also learn more about Dawn’s story starting 15 years ago in Egypt by flashbacks. And interestingly two paths successfully intertwine. I have no problem about the promising premise of the book about taking your chances, learning from your mistakes and leaving no place for your regrets.
BUT… Yes the problematic thing about this book: there is so much information bombardment exhaust your brain cells. Quantum psychics, philosophical approach to life and death, reincarnation, superstition , Egyptology, marriage, fat-shaming etc.
It seem like the author juggled way too much plot balls at the same time and all of them start to fall down from her hands one by one. Especially I truly got lost at the Egyptology parts with all those hieroglyphs, symbolism, secret language hidden at the tombs, digital mapping, nope I’m stopping there. After reading those parts and scientific explanations Brian’s husband gave her about quantum psychics (couldn’t she marry with a man who has regular job?) I thought my mind was so close to explode.
There are so many materials in this book were hard to absorb and all those details made you feel like this a study book you have to read by drawing its lines to pass your exam instead a regular, gripping contemporary fiction. The author may write at least 4 different books with those materials. But instead of that she chose to insert them into one story and I truly got so exhausted and needed more grey cells transplant because I truly fried most of them by over usage.
I loved the family parts, impossible and meanest love-triangle of the story ( it’s so mean because any choice Dawn makes may end with unhappiness!) mother-daughter relationship and of course her profession as “death doula” at hospice was one of the most heartfelt, eerie but also interesting part that attracted my full attention.
But I think those Egypt parts, symbolism, quantum psychics just killed the essence of this meaningful story. When you add too much scientific information into the equation, it affects the intensity of meaningful messages and emotional warmth of the story. But this is my opinion. There is nothing missing about this story. In fact there are too many things to absorb, understand, discover, feel, learn, and search so eventually they overwhelmed me.
Overall: I loved the characters. I loved the idea of second chances, choosing different paths. I loved the devoted love between mother and daughter. But those scientific parts of the book failed me. I love Jodi Picoult’s brave writing style and play with our emotions to shake us to the core. But this time I decided to give only three stars. That’s a first for me, too. It doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the book. The emotional parts of the story completely worked with my needs but the informational parts were exhausting and confusing. They were still impeccably written but in my opinion, they didn’t fit so well with the main plot.
Special thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing/Ballentine Books for sharing this ARC with me in exchange my honest opinions and review.