Saturday, October 4, 2014

Book Review: Larger Than Life by Jodi Picoult

Title: Larger Than Life
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: August 4, 2014
Source: personal purchase

Summary from Goodreads

From Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Storyteller and My Sister’s Keeper, comes a gripping and beautifully written novella, now available exclusively as an eBook. Set in the wilds of Africa, Larger Than Life introduces Alice, the unforgettable character at the center of Picoult’s anticipated new novel, Leaving Time
A researcher studying memory in elephants, Alice is fascinated by the bonds between mother and calf—the mother’s powerful protective instincts and her newborn’s unwavering loyalty. Living on a game reserve in Botswana, Alice is able to view the animals in their natural habitat—while following an important rule: She must only observe and never interfere. Then she finds an orphaned young elephant in the bush and cannot bear to leave the helpless baby behind. Thinking back on her own childhood, and on her shifting relationship with her mother, Alice risks her career to care for the calf. Yet what she comes to understand is the depth of a parent’s love.

My Review:

This will be short and sweet, partly because I already said quite a bit about this selection earlier in the week, and partly because the novella is pretty short and sweet on its own.  This is a great precursor to Jodi Picoult's new book, Leaving Time, which is being released in about 2 weeks.  Despite the small size of Larger Than Life, by the time I hit the last page, I felt invested in the characters and was dying to know what would come next for them in Leaving Time.  This gives you an interesting POV too, because Alice (the protagonist in Larger Than Life) has disappeared after an accident when you encounter her in Leaving Time.  This will definitely leave you curious about where Alice's story will fit in to the longer novel.

This novella does not match exactly what you've come to expect from Jodi Picoult's novels.  No multiple-POV format, no legal case, no crazy-twist ending.  It does, however, include all of the emotional upheaval and deep character development that she is known for.  By the end, I was impressed by how many heart-wrenching scenes she was able to place into one small package.  No loss of passion here, that's for sure.

If the purpose of this novella is to get you ravenously interested in Leaving Time, then as you may have guessed: mission accomplished.

Have you ever read a "companion" book to a larger novel or series?  What did you think?  Was it helpful, or did it feel unnecessary?


  1. I have never read a companion book! I did just finish Leaving Time Just wow. I've not read a lot of Picoult but it was amazing. So, will you read it or do you feel as if you're finished with the character/story?

    1. Wait...did you get a Leaving Time ARC? Can I kiss your feet?
      I will definitely read it. It seems that the novel picks up many years in the future, when Alice has a daughter, and I want to see what direction the story will take. Glad you loved it!

  2. I haven't read a Picoult in a while, but you have me intrigued! I do read companion novels and novellas on occasion. Once I'm really invested in a group of characters or a series, I'm down with finding out about offshoot adventures of minor characters. (I'm looking at you, Diana Gabaldon...)

    1. This was one of my first forays into companion novels, and I enjoyed it. I like that it was almost a prequel...I think companion novels that fall between books in a series appeal to me a bit less, though I'm not sure why.

  3. For years I've been telling my little sister that I don't want to read anything by Picoult because her books are too sad for me, but as I've started to enjoy more emotional books, I'm starting to think I should take her recommendation. This novella sounds very well done. I think it's impressive when an author can pack a lot of emotional impact into a shorter format story!

    1. Definitely have to be ready for the emotions with Picoult. But she handles them so well! :)

Imagination Designs