Title: The Plot
Author: Jean Hanff Korelitz
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
Review Date: Apr 10, 2023
Number of Pages: 320 (hardcover)
My Rating: 5/5
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz will make you think about creativity in storytelling, and whether stories necessarily need to play out the way we’ve assumed that they usually do. Absolutely breathtaking.
Jean Hanff Korelitz’s The Plot is a psychologically suspenseful novel 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?
Tight, masterful, well paced and beautifully written! Things I usually say at the end of a review. But here, this is how I start. That should tell you something about the book and what an effect it had on me.
First of all, it’s a story about a writer. So, of course folks like me, who dream of being authors, are immediately drawn to it. I especially identify with the whole aspect of being really hard on yourself; always feeling “not good enough” in the literary space. Although this book is a work of fiction, there were a lot of small things that would hit a writer hard.
For this reason alone, I’m sure a lot of writers will love and relate to this work.
The story itself builds in intensity as we progress through it, picking up pace with twists and turns. By the last third of the book I just couldn’t put it down. I must be honest and say sleep was sacrificed. But I didn’t have a choice! I finished the book instead of sleeping at a sensible time. Thankfully, I waited till the next day to write this review.
The build up is insanely good and the pace gets pretty frenetic by the time we get to the penultimate reveal. It calms down maybe a little bit after that, for a false sense of security. No spoilers, but I was SHOCKED at how it ended. Till the very end I was wondering if what I’m reading is actually happening, but it took till the epilogue for it to really sink in.
That’s the mark of a creative book, I suppose! Startle you out of your preconceived notions and assumptions about what a book should be like. About how a plot should progress. After all, the book itself discusses that very fact. This book will make you think about creativity in storytelling, and whether stories necessarily need to play out the way we’ve assumed that they usually do. Absolutely breathtaking. And did I mention the masterful pacing and narrative?
I’m so glad to be discovering wonderful new books this year. 2023 is shaping up to be pretty good.
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz is for fans of writing, books, stories with writers as main characters, quick reads, fast paced stories, stories that make you question existing notions, twist endings!