The Paper Wasp is...hypnotic and sensual ... Acampora’s prose has a seductive, pearlescent allure, even when she’s addressing doomed friendships, friends who can never live up to our expectations, friends who betray ... [Acampora] come[s] right out and say[s] certain things that many of us wouldn’t dare speak aloud: Women aren’t automatically great just because we’re women. Sometimes, in fact, we’re dreadful.
... gripping ... A Ripley-esque novel that loses the plot in the final quarter, it is nonetheless a decent bet for readers looking for a well-written page-turner ... The awkwardness of Abby arriving uninvited is beautifully written by Acampora, as is the conniving, convincing way she makes herself indispensable to Elise. Directing the story to her former friend, Abby is creepy and compelling from the outset, an underdog voice that many will root for ... Acampora writes about the subject of female friendship with nuance ... Though The Paper Wasp turns highly fictional, and somewhat ludicrous, in the end, the hard truths and insights that are notable in Acampora’s short fiction enliven the journey along the way. Meaty topics underpinning the story – art, ambition, class, power – are thoughtfully explored and an arch eye is cast over life in the Hollywood bubble ... Where the book falls down is in its subplot involving the Rhizome, and its leader Perren. Initially intriguing Abby’s sessions with Rhizome practitioner Telo are too vague and nonsensical to hold our interest ... a rushed and unsatisfying end.
A Paper Wasp almost dares readers to see how long they can occupy Abby’s truly dark and tormented mind ... If A Paper Wasp were following a more cliché or expected route, one might expect Abby to ultimately usurp her friend’s position in the movie industry, leading to a tale of sisterhood turned to professional and romantic rivalry. But Acampora is true to her characters ... A Paper Wasp is a dark fable on the nature of friendship, fame, and the way dreams can influence our waking life.
A dreamlike combination of the pressures of Hollywood and the increasingly dangerous delusions of an unstable main character, the book personifies all the nasty and envious emotions stirred up by the all-too-frequent comparison exercises of one's own social media profiles to those of old schoolmates ... gives a sense that [Abby] is teetering on the edge of something desperate, providing the same uncomfortable compulsion to keep reading as does a work of true crime ... Any logistical concerns about the unlikely arrangement between Elise and Abby are more or less swatted away by the author who attempts to detract attention away from the milky and surreal sheen the book achieves. Yet there are very real questions left unanswered by the author's skewed focus on atmosphere ... the director simply lacks the needed gravitational pull to make Abby's hero worship believable ... As a disturbing psychological thriller heavy in atmosphere that doubles as a cautionary tale of who we should allow reentry into our lives, this book mainly hits the mark. However, it does conclude leaving us with a feeling of longing and incompletion...A bizarre and hazy aura created by Abby's dreams and the churning sense of dread fostered by her delusions is muddled by inconsistent characterization and a lack of powerful narrative focus. Readers are left to turn to their own dreams to imagine what might have been had these elements been given their due.
Such folderol culminates in a terrible crime, which doesn’t shock so much as perplex. Is The Paper Wasp an exploration of the poisonous effects of vanity and envy, or is it simply the testimony of a lunatic? The book confounded me. When you consider how linear and predictable most novels are, that is, I suppose, a virtue of a sort.
...[a] thrilling debut ... Acampora...writes propulsive sentences at a fever pitch, guiding the reader through Abby's dream world as she hunts for corresponding clues in a reality of her own making. Told in the second person, the novel is by turns a confession, an accusation, and a stalker's diary, yet it is also grounded by Acampora's musings on philosophy, art, and ambition. While there are more novels than ever dedicated to obsessive female friendship, Acampora takes a relationship story that could have been reduced to petty jealousy and turns it into something bigger and weirder, as if David Lynch had astral projected into the work of Melissa Broder ... By turns demented, sad, and frightening, Abby is a unique heroine making all the wrong choices feel somehow right and just. Utterly bizarre and completely bewitching, this twisted, delicious tale will grab you from the first page and hurl you over the edge.
Acampora’s debut novel...is an unsettling and surreal excavation of the boundless depths of the human psyche ... Acampora’s writing is gorgeous and renders with precision and clarity the spiral of Abby’s increasingly disorienting world of obsession and hallucinatory imagery. The result is a piercing, disquieting novel.