Jean Hanff Korelitz
Jake Finch Bonner is a washed up writer teaching at a third-rate MFA program. When an arrogant student reveals the plot of the novel he is sure will be a bestseller and receive all the accolades, Jake sadly agrees. Years pass, but the novel is never published leaving Jake to possibly revive his career by stealing the plot.
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?
I am always hesitant to give 5 stars to thrillers, but I think Jean Hanff Korelitz and The Plot earned it.
The Plot is a very readable and deeply satisfying thriller. I will warn that it is a bit of a slow burn but is also 110 percent worth it. I was quickly gripped by Jean Hanff Korelitz’s storytelling and immersed in the book.
I found Korelitz’s prose a bit more like that found in literary fiction than most of the thrillers I read. But I liked it. It felt like the sole purpose of the book was not simply to take me on a wild ride but to also immerse me in the protagonist’s life and feelings. I understood his motives and actions, although whenever a character makes dumb decisions repeatedly that fill me with anxiety, I do become frustrated. However, I think this is an intended mechanism that makes you more invested in the ending.
The Plot, as the cover shows, is a book within a book. Korelitz did a fantastic job executing this and slowly unfolding the mysteries. Ultimately, The Plot was addicting and unexpected. If you read a lot of thrillers, you may not be completely surprised by the plot twists, but I think The Plot is very much worth reading.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Plot and think, without a doubt, this is going to be a bit hit. I predict it will be a big beach read this summer. I highly recommend picking up a copy and setting aside time to devour it in one sitting.
Mysteries & Thrillers
May 11, 2021
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Note: I received a gifted advance readers’ copy of this book from the publisher, Celadon Books. Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.