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?
Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance copy of The Plot for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.
The Plot takes imposter syndrome on a national book tour and proceeds to set it on fire; a fascinating, page-turning read that will keep you guessing until the very end. This and The Last House on Needless Street are THE books that need to be on your wishlist for 2021.
I have to admit: I tend to be cautious when books are lauded prior to release, so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going into something I would end up DNF’ing. I read some early reviews from people I trust and, well, it ended up being fairly positive.
Feedback was along the lines of “It starts out very slow, almost like a completely different story. Just when you think about putting it aside, THAT is when the story really begins to ramp up. IT’S SO GOOD.”
Needless to say, I had to check it out, and boyyyyyy howdy. I FINISHED IT IN LIKE 4 HOURS.
People tend to hate the term “slow burn”, but The Plot is exactly that. Building up the character of Jacob Finch Bonner took its necessary time for you to become fully invested in him and his motivations. Finding out how much of a POS Evan Parker/Parker Evan (you’ll get the reference when you read) in the beginning sold me on Bonner getting his. The secondary characters Bonner interacts with add just enough seasoning to the story to where they aren’t just surface-level, especially his love interest, literary agent, and a handful of others.
While the story did take some time to get its feet, that payoff at the end was just simply MAH-VELOUS. I did, sorta, kinda call it around the 3/4 mark or so, but it didn’t take away from the satisfaction of a well-played twist on Korelitz’s part.
I did really enjoy how the author ended up telling two (2) stories here: Jacob’s own and the novel he “stole”, CRIB. Seeing how both played off of each other and ended up playing out across Jacob’s timeline was very intriguing. It ends up varying the pace in which you’ll read the book, and as you begin picking up on things, you’ll notice the pages begin to fly by.
I highly recommend The Plot to those looking for another one of those Gone Girl / The Silent Patient / The Girl on the Train-type novels; a fantastic beach read that will keep you up into the wee hours of the night. Also, this REALLY makes me want to check out The Undoing on HBO (based on her novel You Should Have Known).
I have to give props to Kirby Heyborne as well for his narration. This is the first book I’ve listened to that he has narrated, but from the looks of his catalog, it most certainly won’t be my last.