Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Picture Perfect: The Jodi Arias Story" by Shanna Hogan

"Picture Perfect: The Jodi Arias Story..." by Shanna Hogan is a book I chose to listen to via Audible rather than read. I listen to a handful of true crime podcasts and thought that listening, rather than reading, would be more suitable for this type of subject. Side note-  Sword & Scale Podcast , as I have mentioned before, is my all time favorite podcast. Excellent content, interesting true crime, outstanding production quality, and I love the music used.

If you aren't familiar with the Jodi Arias  case here is a small snippet of info:

Travis Alexander was a handsome, hard-working, practicing Mormon who lived in Mesa, Arizona. His good looks and easygoing manner made him popular with everyone, especially the ladies. So when he was found with a bullet wound in the face and his throat slashed, the brutal murder sent shock waves throughout his community. Who could have done something so sinister?
But soon a suspect was singled out-Jodi Arias. A beautiful, aspiring photographer, Jodi had been in a long-distance relationship with Travis the year before. But Travis wasn't interested in a serious commitment; he was seeing several women during that time. When he broke up with her, that didn't stop Jodi from leaving California, moving to just a few miles away from Travis's home, and inserting herself into his daily life.
Investigators found one piece of startling evidence in Travis's home that implicated Jodi. But in a bizarre turn of events, Jodi would claim self-defense. Was she a victim - or a devious femme fatale?

~taken from Amazon 

I was not impressed by the voice used. It says that this is narrated by Emily Durante but it was this weird mix of human and robot voice that at the beginning really bothered me and at times couldn't correctly pronounce simple words. I have listened audiobooks previously that were narrated by the author and this weird narration drove me nuts. 

Despite the narration, the story was easy to listen to. This book reads and flows like a fiction story, which was good and bad. The author, Hogan, seemed to be very specific in little details such as what was said in conversations between friends and how various scenes looked in very minute detail, which left me wondering if it was all 100% non-fiction or a mix of truth and fluff. It was just strange to read (listen) to a timeline of exact words spoken by characters and the emotions they were feeling at the time. Hogan either did very extensive research and interviews, or made up dialog along the way. I just find it hard to believe she knew how Travis (the victim) was feeling prior to his death. 

It is a non-fiction, true crime story filled with emotions and memories rather than facts. I was left many times wondering why the author didn't elaborate more when actual facts were given. Really there were no new facts given in the book that weren't already explored during the airing of the trial on television. The only new incite this story gave were emails and texts between Travis and his friends.  

Hogan also told such a one sided story and not an objective re-telling of a crime. Most of it is focused on the victim, Travis, and his life prior to death, along with his family and friends' views and opinions after his horrific murder occurred. There are parts Hogan uses "according to Ms. Arias" or uses quotes from Arias that were published in news stories, but it seems like this was written specifically for the victim's family and friends to tell their side of the story. 

Another issue I had was the writing style. It is written like a very bad YA teen story. I happen to love YA books so this was a huge disappointment. Hogan writes the book as is she was actually there from death to trial. Like she was a part of the story. The language, dialog, and descriptions used to retell the story had me, at times, wondering if we were even dealing with grown adults, or juvenile teenagers. It was just odd. The character's description were so basic and boring that it was just flat. There are better words that Hogan could have used to describe witnesses throughout the book besides "petite blonde, peppy, or lanky" (she used them repetitively through the whole book also). The book opens by describing a scene of Travis' house. It reads like this:

"Slivers of light pierced the white wood blinds, illuminating a single window on the second floor. It was the only trace of light in the house--the rest lay shrouded by the night sky."

So over-the-top and dreamy-like. Very odd for a non-fiction book's opening line in my opinion.

All in all, it was a decent read (listen) and was interesting to hear the story from the "victim's side", even though I really wondered how much of the thoughts and emotions of the characters were actually true and how much was made up and imagined. It did seem to drag on because of the excessive detail into the life of the victim and explaining what a terrific guy he was. I just think Hogan's execution should have been different and read more like interviews of family and friends recounting the story and the life of Travis rather than retelling it as if the author was a part of the story.

If you have followed the Jodi Arias trial this is a decent read or listen, but nothing great. A 3 star read for me. 

Happy Reading!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this review it stopped me from buying it. The description you gave of the writing style and dreamy fluff is exactly the kind of garbage I wouldve hated. You nailed everything I was not looking for so you just saved me time and money for which I am so grateful. Will check out your other reviews x