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THE RECKONING immediately made me realize all the reasons I am a huge fan of John Grisham. When an author writes novels that garner them a huge fan base, it can be difficult to continually write books that rise to the level of their earlier success. After reading a couple recent Grisham books that I enjoyed, but did not love, it felt great to slip into such an amazing acheivment as THE RECKONING.
THE RECKONING is sure to please readers that loved some of Grisham's earliest books like A TIME TO KILL, RUNAWAY JURY and THE FIRM. THE RECKONING deals with such thorny issues as racism, capital punishment, Jim Crow, and war.
Some of the most impactful scenes in the book recount the experiences of a World War II hero, who served in the Philippines during the atrocious Death March and accompanying inhumane treatment perpetrated on surrendering troops, and the civilian population, by the Japanese military. This is heavy heavy material that will shock you by its very brutality. It is also used to explain the character of a man who commits an inexplicable murder.
The reason for the murder is the central mystery of the book. It will definitely capture your imagination. THE RECKONING is a powerful read and a truly excellent story.
Decorated war vet and pillar of the community up and shoots a preacher in cold blood for no apparent reason.
Surprised at the low rating this book received. I found it an excellent read, granted a bit depressive at times. But that was the reality at that time. I'd rather read stories dealing with ethics, justice ( poetic or not), intriguing etc. and not fairy tale endings just for the feeling of "feeling good". The title fits the content. There was a balance in the ending.
Will reread it some time.
The Reckoning is a book by famous author John Grisham. It takes place in the 1940s and revolves around a war hero, Pete Banning. After killing the local pastor Pete says nothing and leaves everyone wondering why he did it. The book is a real nail biter and really comes down to the last few pages. The book was interesting for me as I learned more about the 1940s and the Vietnam war. At times the book was a bit slow and I feel like some parts could have been left out. Overall the ending was satisfying and it was a pretty good read. I would rate The Reckoning a 4/5.
@Nessie of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board
The first part of The Reckoning is very good, the Grisham I loved in his early novels. The second part is a detailed description of World War Two in the Philippines. It's clear that Grisham did a massive amount of research and he wanted to use every last bit of it. I wanted to get back to the Mississippi story. I hung on for the end and was disappointed in the grim futility of the final chapters. This is a book where nothing good happens to anybody. I wish I had not read it for it left me depressed.
This book was so promising in the beginning. The first section was wonderfully written. Unfortunately the rest of the book disappointed and the ending left me angry that I had wasted my time.
Goes into great detail re life on the cotton plantation in Mississippi and the interactions of the family and their workers. More interesting to me was the saga of the protagonist's ordeal as a POW in the Philippines during WWII. I knew very little of the history of the Japanese invasion and the barbaric treatment of the native population and the Philippine army and their allies. The courtroom case was almost an afterthought.
I have read this book and the last 12 or so comments and want to disagree. I found the book long and maybe with too many details, but it opened my mind about the Philippines and my heart, What atrocious conditions these men endured for our freedom. It's been two weeks since I finished the book and have since searched the Internet for Bataan and find horror stories. Thank you John for giving us this book. I will always remember your contribution.
I agree with everyone who was disappointed. Grisham is such a lovely writer..... I read and read and read.....waiting for the shocking ending...….I waded thru unnecessary details of war and capture which really had nothing to do with anything. Then when the "reason" was finally revealed in the final pages......I felt like I'd been tricked.....nothing but nothing in the
previous pages could have led to this. Felt like this was a "formula" book with ideas taken from a shelf willy nilly and stuck together in order to get paid. Faithful readers should be
treated better than this.
A disappointing novel. I think it would be a better war story rather than mix it up with a weak murder mystery and the reason(s) that caused Pete to do so. Hopefully, his next novel will have more meat to it. I wouldn't recommend this Grisham book.
This book is exactly why one should never - NEVER - purchase a nonfiction book but should only check them out of the library. I only read the first part and had to push myself to do that. Pete, the main character, is obviously mentally ill and suicidal. No wonder his wife is in an insane institution. All the characters in the book are flat and uninteresting. I've no idea how the book ends nor do I care to know. What a waste of time.
This book was very sad all he way around, no satisfying resolution. The part about the Phillipines and Pete's experience as a Japanese POW was very interesting but it made Pete's fate even more tragic. Grisham says he stole the story. Please steal a better one next time. Read The Guardians, much better.
I also agree with CZ75's comments about this book. Having read many of John Grisham's earlier books, I was very disappointed with this one & wonder if he is losing his touch or if this book is just "one off ". The historic details ( ie. the Bataan Death March) were very interesting & well researched but the story ends abruptly (as if the author had run out of ideas for a more satisfying conclusion). In my opinion, not one of John Grisham's best efforts.
I've always enjoyed his books but this one was an exercise in slogging my way through it. The ending was , " really ??? that's the big secret? yawn... "
First Grisham book ever read. Will read more despite this book. Impression was one of an author trading on his reputation, but not writing with passion. Middle of book detailing the horrors of war/courage of war is enough reason for me to pick up another Grisham book. The underlying stereotyping and one dimensional characters of both the whites and blacks in the novel was uninspired writing.
Wow there are a lot of negative comments about this book but I thought it was worth the read. I found the first section a little slow but I kept going. The second section had the main character, Pete Banning, leaving his home to fight in WW11 in the Philippines. It describes the horrors the Americans and Filipinos endured during that time. However, it seemed to have little to do with the story itself unless it was to provide the reader with a better understanding of the emotional state of Pete Banning. The third section was the build up to uncovering the secret and it wasn’t revealed until the very end.
One of the most depressing stories I've ever wasted my time on. Would NOT recommend it.
Not a good read. Stay away.
Read "Educated " by Tara Westovover instead.
I agreed with CZ75 . . . only interesting part was about the Bataan march. Grisham gets too involved with the boring legal proceedings (as in all his novels). Much skimming was required in order to get through this. Disappointing ending as well.
I always have high expectations when I pick up a new book by John Grisham. I was quite disappointed with The Reckoning. I feel like I wasted a lot of my time following the mundane lives of the characters in this book as they dealt with the aftermath of a murder committed by their father/brother/boss. The second part of the book was interesting, i.e. the events surrounding Bataan Death March, but the rest was so-so. The motives for the killing are revealed in the very last pages, and the ending was mostly a letdown.
John Grisham gets self-indulgent.
Well, after publishing close to 3 dozen adult novels (as separate from his YA kid-lawyer series), Mr. Grisham can do whatever he wants, it seems.
Grisham's not the first novelist to play fast-and-loose with either (1) good writing, (2) plot structure or (3) length. He's got lots of company, including Ken Follett. Prime evidence: A Column of Fire, a meandering, crudely written mega-book--900+ pages--that boasts over 3,000 Amazon "reviews." It's a sad come-down for those who really appreciated Follett's first novels (Eye of the Needle, The Man From St. Petersburg, Lie Down With Lions and even the more recent Pillars of the Earth and World Without End.) He USED to be so good...
Grisham's major fault here: right slam-bang in the middle of this mystery, we get a 10-chapter, 100-page flashback digression (or, as publishers put it, "back story") that has absolutely NOTHING to do with the plot. Not one single thread ties a main protagonist's past to the present-day of this southern small-town murder mystery. None whatsoever.
Not that the long "aside" isn't interesting. It is; I now know more about WW II in the Philippines than I ever did before, and certainly thought ever I'd learn in a book about the point-blank shooting of a Methodist minister, in 1946.
And the ending? Well, it's...shall we say, anti-climactic. Ho-hum. And life goes on...
Well-written? Absolutely. Well researched? Yes: Grisham makes sure we know where he got his wartime detail. Also where he got the idea for the book's (main) story. I don't really fault Grisham here as much as I fault his editor, who should have dropped the manuscript, picked up the phone and shouted down the line, "John, I just finished the book. That's IT?? It's time to rewrite, my friend!"
But when the "friend" is a literary giant...hmm, maybe not.
Nobody, it seems, is telling Follett how to improve his overblown books these days, either. 3,000 Amazon reviewers? That's nothing. This book: over 4,600! Instead, when Grisham picks up, the Editor gushes: "LOVE it, John, and thanks for the opportunity to publish!" (And make oodles of bucks...)
But, dear reader, if you want a mystery to leave you wide-eyed and and going "Wow!" This ain't the one.
Sad to say, likely my last John Grisham book. I have loved most of his previous books--up until 4 books ago, they were usually fantastic, and hard to put down. But it's probably over for me, and most of the reviews I read were also not positive, and wondering if it's the end of the line (after 40 books, that's still amazing).
This one started out great--a typical Grisham law and courtroom-dominated tale. But then Grisham goes off on a tangent that goes on far, far too long--and the ending is thoroughly unsatisfying, with a "twist" that I suspected about 300 pages before.
Not much to add here with all the other comments. For me, it was a good read. Grisham's works alternate between good triumphing over evil, and the pervasiveness of evil triumphing. This work falls in the middle of that spectrum. Nothing is done right by the characters, and life is full of disappointments. I admired the all too brief story about the Bataan Death March, where evil did not prevail. While I would rather read a rollicking courtroom drama with a triumph over evil, The Reckoning suffices for me.
I think this is definitely a departure for Grisham, reads more like historical fiction than legal thriller. I thought the Bataan Death March part was heart wrenching and I found the ending sort of anticlimactic.