Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Pact
Chris, talking in private to Gus, his Mom, tells her that he actually shot Melanie. When she gets on the stand to testify that she didn't believe that Chris had shot Emily, Chris got so upset that he insisted on testifying.
Here's where the story goes into fantasyland. Chris, feeling so guilty about shooting Emily, feels he has to testify to that fact, even at the risk of being judged guilty of murder. This is totally unbelievable.
Chris testifies that he had his fingers on the trigger when Emily asked him to kill her. She jiggled his hand and the gun fired. Chris testified that whether he fired the gun or Emily's jiggling of his hand fired the gun is something he is not certain about. What we are certain, however, is that after spending most of the trial saying Chris did not fire the gun that killed Emily, he is basically saying his lawyer lied for most of the trial and he did fire the gun, which gives Chris zero credibility.Click here to see the rest of this review
However, as you would expect from an unrealistic story like this, the jury found Chris not guilty.
Chris goes home. The end.
Jodi Picoult, like many writers, abuses the literary concept of flashbacks, overusing them greatly. We start the story knowing nothing about why Chris might have shot Emily or why she might've wanted to be shot and slowly, in bits and pieces, get fed the answers through flashbacks. It feels frustrating and artificially slow. The most compelling stories have drama that unfolds in the present. It makes it feel unforced and real. Flashbacks are used sparingly, if at all, to illustrate one or two key points. Here flashbacks are central to the book, and we are forced to essentially wait until Picoult decides to show us the central flashbacks which explain what is going on. It feels like one long cock tease.
The characters don't feel realistic. Emily wants to kill herself because of a two second groping when she was nine? How come she didn't show any symptoms back then? Most victims traumatized by sexual abused have been abused numerous times, even for years. They are not triggered by a brief two second Big Mac Attack. Otherwise think of all the times girls are examined by doctors for a few seconds down there. All girls would be wanting to kill themselves. Emily's trauma seems totally overblown.
Chris is also totally a big dummy. Even a teenager should have known to seek outside help. His decision to testify because he didn't want to lie about Emily's death was so noble, so virtuous, and so unrealistic. The result, the acquittal, was also so predictable.
Otherwise, though, the conduct of the trial was pretty realistic. Jordan, the defense attorney, did his job well as a real lawyer would have.
The other problem with this story is that the plot was too simple. Boy meets girl, boy loves girl, girl gets groped, girl wants to kill herself. And that's it. We know what's going on halfway through the book. There are no other major plot twists. None of the other characters, the parents or the prosecutors or defense attorneys, have their own subplots. The story feels too simple.
And lastly, the ending was a let down. Chris is found to be not guilty. There is no end-conversation with his parents, or Emily's parents. He simply finds an empty piece of paper in his backyard which might have been from Emily. It's clear Picoult had no idea how to end the book.