The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
High altitude writing with a predictable twist, but still a great read!
I truly admired the author’s writing abilities and obvious intelligence. I even enjoyed many of the discussions about artistic inspiration and how writers take from and build on other author’s ideas and plots. (I cringe every time I hear allegations of plagiarism in either the publishing or music industry. To my mind, hasn’t every trope, conflict or life drama been depicted in just about every manner possible by now?)
I actually enjoyed this novel very much, but……! As I listened to this wordy, often overly descriptive audio on the unwieldy NetGalley Shelf Ap, I kept thinking … hmm: very erudite, “high altitude” writing style. This won’t appeal to everyone – even I found it a tad tiresome at times, hence the one point deduction in my rating.
Acquit me! – I love a good discussion about art: the history of, the making of, the talented or eccentric creators of, the feelings and thoughts evoked by, etc. etc. As I audited this book, I often felt like I was back in class, listening to a lecture – but without the opportunity to raise my hand and ask the Prof for clarification or even debate a point. (I also felt the urge to check for footnotes and reference sources, but, alas, this was an audiobook….)
The narrator was quite decent and I liked his voice, but I was occasionally distracted by his pronunciation of certain words and would loose the thread of the story. (For example: the main character’s name: instead of Jacob Finch Bonner, I occasionally heard Jacob Finch Boner – I kid you not! This is basic phonics, people!)
Technical issues aside, this was a pretty decent thriller, but half way through, I knew who the killer was, the why of it and even the how of it, and I could even foretell how the story was going to end – and I knew I wasn’t going to like that ending.
My take: everything was a tad “over-explained.” There really was nothing left to infer or guess – all the work was done for the reader. Dialogue and characterization were good, and the various settings were so well described and detailed, you could probably make your way through the halls of the now defunct Ripley college or the small New England towns where the main and side stories took place. This minute attention to detail and the heavy use of elaborate and multi-syllabic descriptors slowed the action down.
This entire novel can certainly be made into a movie, but it will be a short movie, because nothing, for much of the novel, happens… just the slow dripping away of all the characters’ lives – both fictional and “sub-fictional,” and all of those long interior monologues from Jake.
Of course, I enjoyed the “NOVEL WITHIN A NOVEL THAT MIRRORS THE ACTION IN THE MAIN NOVEL” theme, but this is also what made it so very predictable. Maybe The Plot was never meant to be a thriller in the true sense, but if you were hoping for a shocking twist, I don’t know how you couldn’t see it coming.
I’m rating this one a 3.8 out of 5 because the writing was very good, and I did enjoy the literary discussions, but as a thriller…. well, I’ll let you decide, because I do still highly recommend this one!
My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an Audio ARC of of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz