Monday, September 19, 2022

[Review]—James Patterson and Richard DiLallo's "The Ninth Month" Is a Yawner of a Thriller


Is it just me, or does the cover of James Patterson's The Ninth Month resemble Rosemary's Baby? "What wouldn't a mother do to save her unborn child?" Even the tagline alone shouts "Rosemary's Baby!" I assumed there might be some type of supernatural element to the story based only on the cover, but sadly, that was not the case at all. Instead, what we get is a dramatic thriller devoid of any exciting moments.


This time, James Patterson teams up with Richard DiLallo. When I say "teams up," I mean that Patterson came up with the idea, outlined it thoroughly, and then passed it off to DiLallo to write everything. That's usually how Patterson's coauthoring works. DiLallo's name may be familiar to you because he co-wrote... cough... wrote the books Alex Cross's Trial, The Christmas Wedding, The Store, and The Midwife Murders, as well as three Bookshots novellas—French Kiss, The Christmas Mystery, and French Twist. I believe I've read all of Patterson and DiLallo's collaborations, and while none of the titles immediately come to mind, I think I did like the majority of them.

The most dislikeable character in this novel is Emily Atkinson, a privileged thirty-something substance abuser. And she's the main protagonist! Emily finds herself in the ICU after a heart attack almost took her life. She decides to keep the baby despite the risks to her health and works to exorcise all of her demons (alcohol, drugs, one-night stands, etc.). Despite being an adult, Emily acts like a child. With a baby on the way, she begins to learn how to be responsible. And who is it that's going to help her? Her new best friend and nurse, Betsy Brown, who's also pregnant.

Flashbacks are one of my reading pet peeves. Since the awful television series Lost first appeared in the early 2000s, every other author has felt compelled to include flashbacks in their novels. Flashbacks are overused and quite annoying to me unless they are essential to the plot. Yes, there are flashbacks in The Ninth Month. All of Emily's chapters are flashbacks that chronologically follow her whole pregnancy, and the rest of the narrative takes place nine months later, with the police investigating Emily's disappearance. There is a complicated side-story involving a few killings. A James Patterson thriller would be incomplete without a few dead bodies.

This so-called "thriller" does have a solid premise concealed somewhere in it. There must be genuine thrills in a thriller, which are absent from The Ninth Month. The book is nearly 500 pages long. It's grossly overdone and filled with far too much extraneous fluff. Has the phrase "too many cooks in the kitchen" ever been used? I was about halfway through the book when I thought about that phrase. What should have had a more straightforward plot was woven together with too many concepts. There are two separate plotlines. Plot A: After realizing she is pregnant, a woman who enjoys partying has to grow up. Plot B: The police are looking into the disappearances and murders of wealthy women. Wouldn't these plots be best adapted into stand-alone novels?

When I start a new novel, I'm upbeat and always hope for the best, and that's how I approached The Ninth Month. This James Patterson novel is more in the middle of his many successful blunders that I haven't particularly liked. As I've already indicated, two distinct storylines are crammed into one work. Are they a good match? Actually, no. Everything seemed off. If the protagonist weren't so unlikeable, the idea of a pregnant party girl in her 30s having to mature would be an intriguing story. A little more engaging was the police procedural plot, although the detectives seemed one-dimensional. Again, the novel is much too long! It shouldn't have been more than 350 pages, much less almost 500.╌★★✰✰✰

7 comments:

  1. It does sound too long, and too bad too because you're right it does sound promising!

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    1. This book is - An insult to one’s intelligence

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  2. Way too much pointless fluff filling pages. Could have been significantly shorter, and a tad more believable.

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  3. Found this book to be an insult to one’s intelligence. Awful

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  4. Totally NOT believable. An insult to readers of James Patterson

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  5. Last sentences are totally stupid, “here’s Oscar”

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  6. Since I am 83 I read the large print books. I am on page 328 which is chapter 51 and thinking this is not worth my time and there are 630 pages. So I decided to look at reviews . Glad to see others feel the same. I don’t even care enough to look at the last few chapters . I care nothing for Emily and get more enjoyment in most books.

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