Book Reviews of Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices

Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices
Songs of the Humpback Whale A Novel in Five Voices
Author: Jodi Picoult
ISBN-13: 9780571129270
ISBN-10: 0571129277
Publication Date: 4/1992
Pages: 343
Rating:
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 35

3.6 stars, based on 35 ratings
Publisher: Faber Faber
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

54 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 24
I read this book because I am a big Jodi Picoult fan. I would advise anyone thinking about reading this book to make sure it is not the first Jodi Picoult book you read. It was an interesting read mainly to see the beginning of Jodi's complex character details and her ability to weave a storyline from many controversial subjects in our society. This book covers several different subjects, spousal and child abuse, traumatic events and the way they affect lives, and a grown man's involvement with a minor. Jodi obviously took on too many subjects to make this story compelling. Each character seems to have enough flaws that none ever seems to touch the heart of the reader. Since it was a first novel, I applaud Ms. Picoult's efforts. However, if it was not a first novel of an accomplished author, I probably would have put the book down before finishing.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 239 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 18
Eh... I'm glad this wasn't my first Picoult book, it may have been my last. I thought it dragged a lot, I really didn't like any of the characters and it just kind of "was". Most interesting thing about it was the whale stuff :)
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 42 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 17
Oh, this was terrible. I almost can't even begin to describe how terrible. I'm shocked that it got such good reviews from the newspapers. Okay, reasons why this book is terrible . . . 1) the time sequence is so out of whack that she ends up revealing the shocking parts of the book too early, which makes you not want to read the rest, but plow through it anyway hoping fruitlessly that it will get better, 2) you really, really dislike the Oliver character who is the guy communing with the humpbacks (I liked humpbacks before reading this book, and now they are tainted by this guy's scientific self-obsession/agrandizement), and 3) it's just slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

I guess, ultimately, it's about families and love, what brings people together and rips them apart, but there's no real issue/premise that makes it all a cohesive whole like the rest of her books. If you want a good introduction to Picoult, start with Nineteen Minutes or My Sister's Keeper. This book will make you avoid her forever, if you've never read her before.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 264 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Another wonderful human interest story from Jody Picoult. However, the story unfolds in reverse order which made it a bit confusing for me. Definately a book to be read in one or two sittings, rather than over a week in small increments the way I did.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 54 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Another success. My BF had a hard time with the diffirent perspectives and timelines, but I really enjoyed then and thought it enhanced the suspense waiting to see how events were viewed by different characters. As are all of her books, it's thought provoking and challenging on several levels.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 2 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This book is a normal Picoult book because it jumbles up the chronological order of the story so you have to keep a close eye on the dates in each chapter. I find that difficult in some cases to understand what is happening. At the time I read this book I was also reading Evan's book "The Divide," which had a very similar theme. In Picoult's book the ending perhaps was more realistic, but in Evan's book more optomistic.

I did not find this book is not one I would read again or recommend to anyone.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on
Helpful Score: 4
It doesn't have the surprising ending the other Picoult's books have ... but it is still a very interesting story. I enjoy the way Picoult tells a story from 5 people's point of view ... and the reader can fit these all together. This one is interesting as 4 people are telling the story from beginning to end (chronologically), whereas the 5th person tells the story backwards (starting with the current day and going back to the beginning). It's not as confusing as it sounds, but holds your attention.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 36 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Not the best book that I've read by Jodi Picooult. Its still worth reading to see how much she has evolved as a writer, just know that its kind of confusing.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Another excellent one by Picoult. Couldn't put it down. I love how she gives each character their point of views. In this one she had the same scene a couple times told by a couple different characters to get everybody's perspective.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 18 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Another fantastic read by Jodi Picoult. Based on the description, I wasn't looking forward to it as much as some of her others, but as usual, she did not disappoint. Her writing style is phenomenal. By far my favorite author.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I found the jumping around in time to be very confusing. I would have preferred a straightforward time line from beginning to end. The forward and backward in time did not seem to add anything to the story line.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on
Helpful Score: 3
I'm glad this was not my first encounter with Jodi Picoult because it would have been my last. I've read some of her other work and have always been impressed but not this time--I dragged myself through to the end. I found none of the characters to be endearing...the mother was childish, the teenage daughter too precocious, the husband/father a jerk, etc., etc. The relationship between Jane and her brother was somewhat unsettling to me. I wouldn't recommend this book to be your first step into the multi voiced novels of Picoult.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 83 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
A delightful story in 5 characters voices! I loved it !!
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on
Helpful Score: 2
This book jumped back in forth in time a lot and switched character points of view which I normally do not mind but you were forced to read the same scenes over and over from different characters points of view which was ridiculous and the ending was given away less than halfway through the book. Very silly. Wouldn't recommend.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 19 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This was my fourth Picoult book and as some others have said; I'm glad it wasn't my first. As she progresses as a writer her stories draw you in. This book just didn't do that for me. I did finish it; but just didn't care about the characters as I had for her other books.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 310 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
It took such a long time to finally get a copy of this from my Wish List, and what a waste of time. I've read several of Picoult's books, and liked some a lot, and some not so much. She has written 12 novels and has certainly matured a lot in her writing since this first effort. I believe this is her first, and it certainly reads likes it. I will now give serious thought and read evaluations more carefully before searching out earlier works of authors with whom I am now very favorably impressed. I hope that those of her books that I have purchased but not yet read are superior to this effort.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 21 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Pretty good for the author's first novel. I did find myself very interested and disappointed that one of the characters tells the story backward so the reader knows the end of the story at the beginning of the novel. None the less still very good.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Certainly not her best work. I give her some leeway as I think this was her first novel. Not sure how she made herself famous with this one though.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Another great book by Jodi Picoult. Her writing style is fascinating and this is a touching story.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 95 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book was a good read but the way it is told could get confusing
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Good book a little slow at times, not one of my favorites by this author, but good.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 112 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Excellent book- it jumped around alittle but I loved it anyway!

Ellen
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Perhaps my least favorite Picoult book. Dry, slow-moving, and the ending leaves you feeling unsatisfied.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 181 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is one of Picoult's first novels, so maybe she hadn't hit her stride yet. I found myself skimming a lot of this book...not a good sign. I didn't care about the characters, because I didn't really like them. The ones that I thought I might like, weren't really developed enough.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I enjoyed this book but not as much as some of her other books. I did not like the way the book jumped to the end and then went back and gave the details of the story. Still had good characters, as always.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I'm a Picoult fan and have never NOT liked one of her books. But this is about as close to not liking I've come. The story was hard for me to get into in the beginning, then started to get better, then fizzled.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 114 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Interesting coming-of-age novel told from several points of view.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 11 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I loved it!! This is about Love and can happen to everyone . to be stuck in a marriage when you married young.. to have hang ups from your childhood nd to just want to go and start over. Points of view from all characters very well thought!
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I like that the same story is told by 5 different people. It's interesting to see people's perception of the same events that occur. It was a bit confusing that Rebecca told the story in reverse chronological order, while everyone else told it like it happened. I did not like the ending, but not all stories have to have the fairy tale ending. There were stretches that the story dragged on, but I did finish it.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 44 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
As others have already said, by no means is this the best Picoult book she's written and probably wouldn't be the best one to pick up first, but there are still many positives about it. As always, her writing is done beautifully, keeping you engaged from beginning to end. I also loved the themes she explored. Ultimately, the characters in this piece all try to come to terms with the meaning love, and what it means for different people and different relationships. WHen do they conflict? Do you have to choose? What is the difference between the love you find in a comfortable marriage based on routine versus the young love that sends sparks flying? What about the love between siblings, the love between parents, and the areas where love should exist but does not? What about the love between best friends? These are all explored here.

Jodi plays with different voices and often plays with the chronology in many of her books, but the beginning of this one was confusing and I don't think the choices always made the best sense. By the end of it, things fall into rhythm, so you just have to weather through the beginning. I'm not sure how much I bought the resolution of the conflicts in this story and would have liked to see some more things play out, but even still, some of these drawbacks are not enough to prevent me from recommending anyone to give this one a chance.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on
Helpful Score: 1
Interesting read, but a little difficult to follow at times with so much jumping around between "voices." Picoult covers a lot of issues in this one...then it just ends--left me wondering Now what? OK book, but not my favorite by Picoult
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I love all of Jodi Picoult's books. However, the heroine's husband in this book really ticked me off. A simple road trip to retrieve a wife who needs space is not going to change a man.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 38 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Not her best work but you can see how it led to her other amazing books, this is her first book.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 29 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Jodi Picoult is, in my opinion, one of the best authors of our time. Her books are well thought out and have a wonderful "rhythm" - once you start, you don't want to put it down!
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 222 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Great book, the way its written in the different voices and going back and forth in time, I didnt like the ending but that was just me. The book is very good.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 43 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
For her first book not bad. I am huge fan of her writing style and the way she can explore topics of an unwanted nature. This isn't her best work in my eyes however it is nice to see where she got her start from.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 40 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
i'm a big fan of jodi picoult, but i had the hardest time getting through this book. its definately not her best.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Picoult's first book. Good book.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 126 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Not one of my favorite from Jodi Picoult
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 2 more book reviews
not the best jodi picoult book. I never put it down until I finished it. It took me a while :)
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 7 more book reviews
Do not make this your first Jodi Picoult read. This is by far my least favorite Picoult novel and I much enjoy her more recent novels. This book is hard to follow in terms of time frame. It skips all over in time and it is hard to know when the story is taking place, without paying close attention and rereading.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 15 more book reviews
This book was one I could not put down!!! I wanted to know what was going to happen with everyone from Oliver to Rebecca. The characters kept you thinking about what you would do also.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 4 more book reviews
Hard to get into but loved it as I do with every other Jodi Picoult book!
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 58 more book reviews
couldn't finish this book - too many voices
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 4 more book reviews
Enjoyable. Not as good as some of her others, but liked the story told from different perspectives and different chronology. Worth reading, but not one of her very best.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on
Having read some of Jodi Picoult's more recent works I was curious to see what her earlier writing was like. This book was published in 1992. I enjoy her character development but struggle at times with the timeline going back and forth between present and past. Her chapters alternate in the voices of different characters, which is fine.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 234 more book reviews
I agree with some of the reviewers before me that this should not be the first Jodi Picoult book a person reads. I did like the development of character over time however they were all so flawed that it was hard to choose whose side I most understood. The book is told through five different characters, and for the character of Rebecca the story travels back from the present to the event that started everything pertinent to the storyline. Jodi's later books are easier to read and comprehend. Sometimes it was hard to find the timeline for this story. All in all I enjoyed the book though; just not one of my favorites of hers.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 35 more book reviews
I have read many of Jodi Picoult's books and I can say that I am glad that I did not read this one first! This was simply a shallow romance novel. Her other novels are filled with research and information and Songs of the Humpback Whale had none.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on
This is a fascinating read with all the simple but often profound observations that you expect from Picoult, but the characters are all frustrating to the end. A journey of enlightenment and shocking events seems to end up being not much more than a summer break.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 73 more book reviews
Songs of the Humpback Whale does take attention w/all the jumping around w/5 voices, but I love Picoult & have read many of her books. This one is my absolute favorite. It's worth the trouble. Of all the Picoult books I've read, this is the one that lingers long after I finished it............
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 252 more book reviews
I have read many of Picoults books and loved them. Then I realized that many of her characters in those books developed earlier. So I decided to go back to the beginning. This is the first book. I am so glad that I have read others. I hated this book. I would never have picked up another of hers if this was the first one I read. Because it was Picoult, I forced myself to read it. The book was very dry and not very interesting. I hated the ending. It had 5 different people telling the story. They story was out of order, which is OK sometimes but not in this book. Sometimes you were told about a scene by 3 different characters by the second, you got it, you did not need to read a different version. At times I would skip paragraphs just to make the book go faster. If you like Picoult you are going to want to read it to form your own opinion but please if this is your first Picoult do not base your opinion of her on this book. Read some of her books that were published in 2000 or on. I still have to read a couple more of her beginning books, I have read most of her books published after 2000 and I love them. Need to take a mental break after finishing them. I am hoping that the other earlier books are not as bad as this one.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 5 more book reviews
I enjoyed the book although it was not what I normally like to spend time reading.
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on
LOVED this book...fellow studies patterns of whales and story of his family involved too.
My cover looks a bit different but certanly the same book.story
reviewed Songs of the Humpback Whale: A Novel in Five Voices on + 17 more book reviews
A unusual tale of twins and their volatile relationship. Picoult never ceases to amaze me. A good read.