The Plot

Today’s review is for The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz (@celadonbooks — out now! 🎉)

Book Blurb: 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?

My Summary

Jacob was a promising author, having written a good first book that propelled him into the literary world. After a series of failed attempts to follow this success up, he takes up a teaching position at a third-rate Masters of Fine Arts writing program, which he doesn’t really care for. In comes Evan, an arrogant student who declares his impending success because he has devised an amazing idea for a book. He shares (((the plot))) with Jacob and…. it is amazing. Time passes and Jacob realizes that the book never was published, and he decides to take advantage by submitting it as his own. He becomes a celebrated author as a result, but then is faced with someone who knows he has stolen the idea….

Spoiler Free Review ⤵️

This book is classified as a literary thriller essentially. I genuinely thought it was a great read, although a bit of a slow burner which at first made me wonder just how much of a thriller it was going to be. I was pleased to find that it was an excellently written set of twists, and I will admit I didn’t see the reveal coming.

This book piles in a lot about the publishing/writing world, but it also touches on elements of daily life that everyone faces: professional stagnation (or success), ethics, personal failures/choices, etc. The MC is faced with a moral dilemma — does he take the idea so he can get out of his slump? The idea is unknown supposedly outside of himself and his deceased student. So, only he will know that it was the intellectual property (so to speak) of someone else… so the choice is made, but it turns out someone knows, and the life he builds is under siege.

Bottom line: I’d suggest this first and foremost to bookish nerds and writers. A book about a book? Perfect, how meta. I think that group would get the most enjoyment out of this one, followed by fans of thrillers/suspenseful reads that aren’t necessarily overly violent or full of gore. Domestic thrillers, essentially.

Thank you to Celadon Books, Bookish First, NetGalley, and the author for an ARC of The Plot which I won via a sweepstakes and received via NG electronically. ❤️