YMMV / The Lovely Bones

Book Examples

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: In a way with Ruth's sexuality. As she appears attracted to women but as Susie described her watching her cousin undress it doesn't seem sexual. But her obsession with Susie and climbing in bed with Lindsey (even though in a platonic way) can both be read very much in certain ways. Her relations with Ray further complicate things as she kisses him to experiment and in one point gets alarmed she might have felt something. And then you know Susie uses her body to have sex with Ray. At that point a lot of people give up trying to classify Ruth at all.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Apparently this comes up for some about unguarded cornfields being ways for kids to walk home from school. It's either normal or really weird depending on area.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Naturally, since Susie is dead, and also Mr. Harvey is never caught by the police.
    • Arguably also undermining the point, as justice plays no real part in the family moving on. To many this would seem to be the major takeaway from the book. The lovely bones have grown without it and that is quite enough for the characters in the book to be happy.
  • Tear Jerker: From the book: when the family dog dies, Susie worries that he won't recognize her after so many years apart. He does.
    • Also the book's description of Jack dealing with the bottles. "All the years they marked and the hands that had held them. His dead father's, his dead child's"
    • Susie's charm bracelet. It's known that she was wearing it when she was murdered. Years later, Len hears about a murder victim found with a charm that didn't belong to them. Abigail and Jack recognize the charm as Susie's, but without the rest of her body and the bracelet itself, there's no way to prove it. Later still, the bracelet surfaces at the landfill— but nobody who sees it realizes its significance. It would lead the police to Susie's body and it would link her murder to others, possibly allowing for evidence to be brought against Mr. Harvey, but this isn't that kind of story.
    • When Ruth asks Lindsey if she misses her sister, Lindsey replies, "More than anyone will ever know."
    • Grandma Lynn pointing out that the memorial and vigil held for Susie is, functionally, her funeral, since they never found her body.

Film Examples

  • Angst? What Angst?: Even taking into account the time-span between Susie's murder and Grandma Lynn's arrival at the house, she seems remarkably blase about the fact her eldest grandchild had been murdered. Part of this is due to a book-to-film change - as Grandma Lynn doesn't visit until much later in the book and the time is vaguer in the film. But since she brings two bottles of scotch to the house and is always seen with a glass in her hand, she appears to have her own way of coping.
  • Award Snub: Stanley Tucci was the only one who got an Oscar nomination, despite most of the praise going to Saoirse Ronan. Rose McIver meanwhile was completely ignored, despite turning in a spirited performance too.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Grandma Lynn has detractors who feel she provides unnecessary comic relief in a story where a teenage girl is murdered, not to mention the fact that we never see her mourning Susie. Others however find her Actually Pretty Funny, due to Susan Sarandon's Large Ham performance - and in any case she doesn't overshadow the main cast.
  • Broken Base: The depiction of the in-between, which is drastically different from how it is in the book. Some fans dislike it for merely being Gratuitous Special Effects and accuse the CGI of taking attention away from the main plot - as well as the Mood Whiplash involved (from family mourning their daughter to Scenery Porn). Others feel that it's a perfectly reasonable depiction of how a teenage girl would imagine her heaven to be - not to mention that it's still ultimately shown to be empty and that Susie has to move on.
  • Complete Monster: The film version of George Harvey is an antisocial loner as well as a depraved Serial Killer, whose victims are female and preferably children. At the beginning, Harvey lures and murders Susie Salmon, after which he decided to continue kidnapping and killing until it becomes a habit. Harvey later tries to kill Susie's sister Lindsey after she obtains evidence proving his guilt. While watching from Heaven, Susie sees that over the years, Harvey murdered several other girls, including his landlady and a six-year-old. Moments before his death, Harvey attempts to lure another victim to her death.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Susie and Holly clearly have a lot of fun inside their heaven. Even when the movie shows that it's all shallow escapism, the scenes and special effects still look spectacular.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The film did quite well in Ireland and has a good number of Irish fans — due to Saoirse Ronan as the lead.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Susie's behavior with her camera becomes this with the rise of the trend of selfies.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Although the story was trashed by critics, the performances of Stanley Tucci and Saoirse Ronan got unanimous praise.
  • Narm: The delivery of "It's Heaven!"
  • Narm Charm: Mr Harvey's appearance in the movie ticks every box on "serial killer" stereotypes, but it doesn't make Stanley Tucci's performance any less scary.
  • Special Effect Failure: The make-up to have Lindsay appear younger in the early scenes. They give Rose McIver Girlish Pigtails and braces, but she's visibly older than Saoirse Ronan. Case in point - after Susie's death, Lindsay looks eighteen at the youngest.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Many moments, especially when Susie meets the other murder victims and the youngest one runs up and gives her a hug, but your mileage may vary between certain scenes.
    • The scene in the film when Susie's parents learn of her death.
    • "You were not there when your daughter needed you."
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks:
    • A good amount of fans didn't like the changes to the movie's version of the in-between. It's mostly a ghost town in the book, but the movie changes it to a spectacular fantasy land.
    • Making Grandma Lynn function as comic relief got a few complaints too. But not as much as others, due to Susan Sarandon proving Actually Pretty Funny for some.
    • The tone shift from the novel, making things Lighter and Softer. Roger Ebert in particular felt the film was unintentionally creepy as a result.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Susie's in-between world is seriously trippy. Especially in the movie.
  • What The Hell, Casting Agency?: Ryan Gosling had this reaction about being cast himself as Jack. He ultimately left, feeling he was too young for the part — and was replaced by Mark Wahlberg.