A very different but equally great accomplishment [as The Great Believers] ... It is at once a campus novel, a piercing reflection on the appeal and ethics of the true crime genre, and a story of Me Too reckoning. It is also the most irresistible literary page-turner I have read in years ... Makkai’s most distinctive literary feature is her blend of intelligence, whimsy, and wisdom, an endearing yet bracing mix that characterizes her Twitter feed as it does her fiction ... Makkai’s writing is textured and precise. She gets all the ‘90s details...deliciously right. Her encyclopedic knowledge of true crime informs the novel at every turn ... None of this feels heavy-handed or merely modish. Rather, Makkai tackles thorny questions about the media, the law, gender, race, and class via these emblematic examples ... That Makkai’s ethical, metaphysical, and epistemological deliberations find form in an exquisitely suspenseful and enormously entertaining story makes her work a beguiling reflection of the conundrum it so beautifully anatomizes.
... embraces the intricate plotting and emotional heft that made her previous novel, The Great Believers, a Pulitzer finalist ... Bodie, a student of structures, aims to implicate as many people as possible, and so does Makkai. As the title suggests, the novel is addressed to 'you'—a decision that both mirrors the confiding, intimate quality of podcasts and places the reader under surveillance ... Makkai sharply conveys the insidiousness of misogyny. But, in blurring the line between dead-girl stories and shitty-man stories, she raises a tricky question: Should the tropes of #MeToo receive the same scrutiny as those of true crime? ... The creepy teacher has become an almost mandatory presence in female coming-of-age fiction...What distinguishes Makkai’s turn is her detective framing: she understands that every high school, with its indelible characters and astronomical-seeming stakes, is a crime scene. A childhood is a closed case; remembering reopens it ... She deftly explores how remembrance can melt into reverie ... highlight[s] the numbing, almost hallucinatory pervasiveness of violence against women, and illustrate how greedily such stories are consumed ... The result is not a book that leers at a discrete and unfathomable act of violence but one that investigates, as Britt puts it, 'two stolen lives...' ... It’s the perfect crime.
In just a couple of pages, Makkai sets up the tricky, meta undertaking of her fourth novel: working within a genre that she approaches with skepticism ... I Have Some Questions for You, too, tackles big social convulsions that raise questions about memory, and about how we assign blame. But this time, training a wary eye on our true-crime obsession and on #MeToo revelations, Makkai conveys less confidence that we have useful means of excavating and telling the stories that haunt us ... Makkai isn’t here to adjudicate, but to complicate. She juxtaposes examples and leaves it to us to draw connections and comparisons like detectives layering red string on an evidence board ... As we race through the novel, we’re pulled into playing much the same role as Bodie does: trying to piece together the various stories, eagerly awaiting a verdict. We’re all but sure who did it by the end, but Makkai denies us the satisfaction of a confession or of justice cleanly served.
Enthralling ... Ms. Makkai unfolds her flashback-laden story with a sure hand ... I Have Some Questions for You is rich in incident and alive with expressive imagery ... A coda, set in 2022, provides a bittersweet but illuminating resolution for all who have worked so long and hard to uncover the truth.
I Have Some Questions for You, then, plants its flag squarely in literary terrain that stretches across Donna Tartt’s The Secret History to Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep to Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise ... unabashedly Makkai’s #MeToo novel, brimming with mordant wit, alluding to high-profile predators and a controversial list of male media offenders ... Makkai’s strategy — pegging social justice onto the frame of a thriller — doesn’t always hold together; her detours into preachy op-ed-speak disrupt the tempo. I Have Some Questions for You slows, speeds up, slows again. But gradually the beauty of the novel’s structure reveals itself ... Makkai steers us from red herrings to courtrooms to proof hiding in plain sight. Her prose is lean yet lush, with short, incantatory chapters and sentences as taut as piano wire ... lacks the richer hues of this author’s earlier books, but it’s whip-smart, uncompromising and (mostly) a pleasure to read.
A long list of praiseful adjectives — sharp, twisty, enthralling, cerebral, surprising — would serve as a review of Rebecca Makkai's I Have Some Questions For You. However, that approach would fail to communicate just how labyrinthine, well constructed and multilayered the narrative is ... n less capable hands, all of this would be too much and some of the subplots would get lost or become diluted, but Makkai manages to juggle every subplot brilliantly and each one sings with a unique voice that harmonizes beautifully with the crime story at the heart of the novel ... Makkai has carefully crafted a novel that inhabits a strange interstitial space between a whodunit, a crime novel with a few elements plucked from found footage films, a story that investigates personal and collective memory, a critique of social media as a place where context is lost and no mistake goes unpunished, and a literary novel about a woman in flux reckoning with her past while trying to navigate her tumultuous present ... Might just be her best novel yet.
Prep-school novels—a surprisingly large genre given the smallness of private-school attendance—are usually cloistered in sweaty isolation. But this is a story that constantly casts our attention to the outer world ... Through this complicated story of historical reclamation and present-day reckoning, Makkai explores the way the mistreatment of women and girls is repressed, mythologized and transmuted into lurid gossip and entertainment ... All of this makes I Have Some Questions for You a kind of meta murder mystery that deconstructs its own tropes. Bodie’s voice, so nakedly candid and bravely confessional, is absolutely convincing. I felt as captivated as though someone were whispering this whole novel just to me. By the end, it’s not the brutality of Thalia’s case that’s so terrifying, it’s the commonness of it.
I Have Some Questions for You is both a thickly-plotted, character-driven mystery and a stylishly self-aware novel of ideas ... Makkai has not settled here for one of those open-ended ruminations on the impossibility of ever finding the truth. That kind of post-modern ending has worn out its welcome. But in a twist worthy of Poe, Makkai suggests that the truth alone may not set you free or lay spirits to rest.
I Have Some Questions for You is narrated, in a closely observed and intelligent first person, by Bodie Kane ... Bodie is immediately fascinating, both for her vivid backstory and her circumstances as a complex, intelligent woman separated from her husband ... Makkai makes sentences that undo us with their amalgamation of nostalgia, sensory evocation, and danger. We know it’s coming. We keep watching ... Makkai refuses the trap of the particular also. One of her most effective and knowing techniques is to string specifics together ... It maintains a profound awareness.
Makkai spins a pertinent story ... This might all sound somewhat programatic — and maybe it is — but it's also a damn good story in which what happens and what it's about bear equal narrative weight ... Deviously twisting midway, as new and newly remembered information shifts Bodie's suspicions, the book is remarkably good at turning nuance to account and turning the abstractions of personal, social and cultural politics into a practical, deeply felt and occasionally even thrilling reality.
The American novelist has proven herself to be a thoughtful storyteller capable of delivering heavyweight ideas with a light touch ... This is not a conventional thriller. First of all, the revelation is entirely predictable. Second, that is the point. This novel is less about solving the crime and so much more about solving the bigger questions that dominate our lives ... The framing of the narrative is somewhat awkward ... This is a small irritation, though, in a novel that otherwise feels very controlled ... This novel is suspenseful, but not primarily because of the murder mystery being untangled ... Quietly riveting.
A sleekly plotted literary murder mystery ... Makkai, a lyrical writer...has gone all-in...with intricate plot twists (the novel feels about 100 pages too long) and a major red herring. But most of the characters are straight out of central casting ... With its ripped-from-the-headlines flavor, Makkai has written a complicated whodunit fueled by feminist rage as Bodie relentlessly interrogates her past and recalls the countless murders of girls and women whose stories have been all but lost in our collective memory.
This fascinating novel is part murder mystery, part penetrating character study, and part critique of sexual abuse in educational settings ... Makkai, depicts a web of social relations, but we also get carefully drawn pictures of the individuals past and present with whom Bodie interacts. Makkai is always interested in the limits of our understanding of the people in our lives ... As always, Makkai’s elegant writing carries the reader along. With I Have Some Questions for You, Rebecca Makkai has written another major work of fiction that raises questions about the word community. Excellent!
Engrossing ... If the book has any faults, it’s that we never hear from Omar himself, and his experiences only come to Bodie second-hand. But I Have Some Questions for You is Bodie’s story, a well-plotted indictment of systemic racism and misogyny craftily disguised as a thriller and beautifully constructed to make its points.
Beguiling ... Chilled as the deep New England winters during which it takes place and twisty with the slowly found and then suddenly illuminated branches of memory, Makkai’s rich, winding story dazzles from cover to cover.
While Makkai's latest is likely inspired by the Adnan Syed/Serial story...she has added intriguing layers of complication to her version ... Fans of The Great Believers (2018) should be forewarned that this book does not have the profound impact of its predecessor, partly because the emotions brought up by its topic are on the outrage-anger spectrum rather than the grief-sorrow one ... Well plotted, well written, and well designed to make its points.