Reviews of Dark Fiction

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

THE PLOT is a beautifully written mystery/thriller that had me guessing almost all the way. Jean Hanff Korelitz is going on my “must read” authors list!

Jacob Finch Bonner is struggling as a writer. His first book was a modest success, but in some ways, that makes writing the second more difficult. He’s now written a second and a third, but neither one was accepted for publication, so now Jake is teaching at a small college in Vermont. One of his students, Evan Parker, stands out because of his arrogance and attitude. One day in what amounts to a student-teacher conference, Parker tells Jake the plot of the book he wants to write, and Jake finally understands where Parker’s arrogance comes from. The plot is AMAZING and will most certainly be a best-seller. Jake moves on, waiting to hear news regarding the publication of Parker’s novel, but he never does. A few years later, having heard nothing, Jake searches for Evan Parker and found that he died, never having published a word. What do you think Jake did then? What any writer would do, of course! What happened after that? You’ll have to read this to find out!

I listened to THE PLOT on audio and at first, I didn’t think I’d be able to finish it. Seriously, this book has a very slow start. I didn’t care for the narrator at that point either. A few Goodreads friends warned me of the slow start and advised me to try and hang in there because the payoff was: chef’s kiss. I’m glad they warned me and I’m happy to report that they were right. The narrator ended up growing on me quite a bit as more characters and voices were introduced.

What I did like, right from the beginning was the author’s writing style. The first part of this book is a lot of “telling” and even though I didn’t much care for that, I can still respect how well it was written. Once the story gets moving though, the writing really shines, and here’s the kicker: not only is she telling Jake’s story, she’s telling the story that Jake wrote, based on Parker’s idea. So, there are actually two stories here, with chapters of Jake’s book CRIB, intermittently sprinkled throughout. Somehow, Ms. Korelitz manages to do this so that the storylines between the two are correlated and it makes for very fast paced and intriguing chapters. </spoiler>

The plot for…well, THE PLOT, is an intricate wonder and I found myself guessing almost to the very, very end. I’d say I guessed correctly around the 70% mark, but I did doubt myself. Around the 90% mark is when I knew I had guessed correctly. I did not see all the twists related to my theory, so even though I did guess the perpetrator, the denouement still held a few surprises.

I was not familiar with this author prior to this book, (I thought.) Then I discovered that the HBO series I watched called THE UNDOING was written by her, and that show was a trip! THE PLOT would have been a perfect 5 star read for me, but I deducted half a star for the slow beginning and because I did guess who the bad guy was beforehand. Still, I rounded it up to 5 stars here at Goodreads and I’m pretty sure this book will make my top ten of the year!

Highly recommended! 4.5/5 stars!

Thanks to MacMillan Audio and NetGalley for the audio download of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!

The Plot Book Cover The Plot
Jean Hanff Korelitz
Celadon Books
Publisher Audio Arc

"Insanely readable." —Stephen King

Hailed as "breathtakingly suspenseful," Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Plot is a propulsive read about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it.

Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he’s teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what’s left of his self-respect; he hasn’t written—let alone published—anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn’t need Jake’s help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then . . . he hears the plot.

Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker’s first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that—a story that absolutely needs to be told.

In a few short years, all of Evan Parker’s predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says.

As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his “sure thing” of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?

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