Like MERCY, Jodi Picoult’s fourth novel, THE PACT, her fifth, is about a vulnerable man who kills the woman he loves at her request. Unlike MERCY, Chris Harte in THE PACT has no clan leader to protect him. Instead, he finds himself dropped into the tank on his eighteenth birthday and forced to endure the hardships of the lockup while his lawyer devises a plan to save him.
THE PACT takes on a different social issue than MERCY. This time, we are experiencing the fallout from teen suicide, rather than the difficulties associated with euthanasia. As usual, Jodi Picoult explores another painful issue with heart, emotion and empathy.
In this fifth novel, the author hits her stride. Gone are the supernatural elements, which some readers found distracting and off-putting. Also gone are competing stories. Unlike MERCY, where the story of the Chief Police’s affair collided with the story of his cousin who euthanized his wife, THE PACT has a laser-sharp focus on 18-year-old Chris Harte, his close-knit extended family which includes the Golds who live next-door, and his best-friend/girlfriend 17-year-old Emily Gold, who wants to die.
Because of the lack of distraction, both supernatural and otherwise, this novel packed a more powerful punch than the first four.
The only problem I had with this novel, which was produced by Recorded Books, was the shoddy editing of the audio version. Far too often the listener experienced no space between one section and another, which was jarring, off-putting and confusing. I really wish Recorded Books would do a quality-control check of the audio files to ensure that the listener has time to process what happened before moving on. (This is not the only Jodi Picoult novel with this problem. I experienced similar unpleasant lurches while listening to MERCY and PICTURE PERFECT.)
However, this is not the author’s fault. Five stars.