The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

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?

Summary from Goodreads

My Review

The Plot is a suspense novel without the cloak and dagger, and sometimes, without even the action. I was on my toes several times, and I can’t even tell you why. Except to say that I thought I figured it out at least three times, and every single time I was wrong.

Which is not exactly uncommon, but when I found out how wrong I was, I could not believe it at first. I read the last few pages in astonished anger. The ending left me feeling winded.

When I tell you that I am both angry and impressed by the twist . . . I have never enjoyed being angry about a book, but I enjoyed this one.

Jacob Finch Bonner was an absolute pretentious doof sometimes, but in the most relatable and understandable way possible. I really liked him by the end of the novel. I really did.

I just made a noise of exasperation because I can’t really go more into it without hinting at the twist – you guys, it is so good!

One thing I can talk about is how Korelitz makes the most niche part of writing (which to a non-writer may have been completely uninteresting) fascinating and harrowing. There scenes that by definition should have been as fraught with peril as they were, but here we are. She really kept on the edge of a knife throughout the whole novel.

And there’s a part of me that’s still so angry about the end! It’s a really good book, I recommend it!

Content Note: Some language, and some references to inappropriate relationships, family abuse, and emotionally charged situations.

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