... a witty nightmare of a thriller ... Purloined manuscripts used to be a staple device in traditional mysteries, but this latest wave of 'who-wrote-it?' suspense stories is edgier, more socially aware. In these tales, power imbalances rooted in gender or class tempt malefactors into thinking they’re justified in stealing someone else’s voice and story ... The plot of The Plot is so ingenious that it should be assigned as required reading in the very MFA programs it pinions, both as a model of superior narrative construction and as a warning of the grim realities of the literary life to naive wannabe writers.
If you’re a person who harbors notions about the glamour of the writing life, The Plot will jettison them to the deepest, darkest trench of the ocean floor. If you’re a novelist who has endured the humiliation of a reading with no audience, Jean Hanff Korelitz’s latest novel will help you laugh about the empty room. And if you’re a reader who likes stories where a terrible decision snowballs out of control, this book is just what the librarian ordered. Welcome to a spectacular avalanche ... as a longtime fan of Korelitz’s novels, I will say that I think The Plot is her gutsiest, most consequential book yet. It keeps you guessing and wondering, and also keeps you thinking: about ambition, fame and the nature of intellectual property (the analog kind) ... Jake Bonner’s insecurity, vulnerability and fear are familiar to those of us who have faced a blank screen, wondering how or whether we’ll be able to scramble letters into a story. Korelitz takes these creative hindrances and turns them into entertainment. Not only does she make it look easy, she keeps us guessing until the very end.
The premise is a gold mine: it generates a dazzling twist, invites deliberation on an artist's moral obligations, and sets up some droll razzing of the publishing industry's wheeler-dealings. Korelitz demonstrates masterful control with her incremental release of the big reveals...As they did in the fictional universe of The Plot, Oprah and Spielberg would do well to rally around Korelitz's lollapalooza.
Korelitz is skilled at dropping the clues and fixating Jake on his uncontrolled desire to move forward. In Jake, she has designed a protagonist who is self-centered and at times somewhat arrogant, but considering he is also designed as a mega-star with his writing success, the reader tends to ignore these characteristics ... One clever piece of plot writing on Korelitz’s part is that she inserts brief sections of Jake’s book into the story and with these brief pieces, she begins to connect Jake’s plot with reality ... Korelitz tends to write heavy in narrative with an abundance of parenthetical asides that don’t seem to be entirely necessary. That said, however, she lays out a strong story without distractions, and the reader easily turns the page to learn what happens next ... To say the end of the story is a real twist would be a huge understatement and certainly an ending that was not expected. The Plot is hard to put down and worth the (short) time it takes to read it.
Not every 350-page novel can be torn through in a weekend, but readers may find themselves batting away sleep and setting an alarm for early the next day to continue Jean Hanff Korelitz’s propulsive literary thriller ... her skill at ratcheting up the tension should come as no surprise ... an ingenious piece of storytelling—a story within a story, two plots for the price of one ... It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to structure The Plot the way Korelitz has—to claim that Crib will be a surefire bestseller, and then in case we doubt her, to share parts of Crib to reveal just how good it is. But Korelitz is an audacious writer who delivers on her promises. Her next big-screen adaptation surely awaits.
... more of a slow burn — only well into the second half does it turn decisively into a dread-driven, Highsmithian psychological thriller ... a droll, elegantly written satirical moan about the vexations and temptations of the struggling writer’s life — think Ed Reardon’s Week, but set in New England ... will be trickier to adapt than its forerunner — all those scenes in the literary foothills. Yet it’s smart, surprising and stealthily unsettling as it evokes every novelist’s nightmare: not the one about being at the mercy of your fans, as in Stephen King’s Misery, but the one about being exposed as an impostor.
... darkly witty, compulsive ... Even without the Ripley references, The Plot has all the propulsive twists and mounting dread of a Patricia Highsmith novel; the passages in which Jake becomes trapped in his own head, paralysed by the fear of being 'relegated to the circle of shamed writers forever and without hope of appeal' are claustrophobic but queasily readable. His story is cleverly interwoven with chapters from Crib, which play out like something from Gillian Flynn; the reveal of the book’s much-vaunted twist comes in tandem with some real-life revelations ... Korelitz has plotted her own story so rigorously that there are plenty of signposts (some of them literary) if you look carefully enough, but the reveal is so well-executed that it remains deeply satisfying. Her knowing send-ups of the literary world - and the creative writing industrial complex - are a snarky delight, too. It’s part page-turner, part literary satire - an unusual mix, but a thrilling one.
... [an] inimitable and imaginative story-within-a-story that sinks its claws in early and doesn't let go until its unforgettable finish ... Korelitz's tight pacing leaves no room to breathe as Bonner grabs at the still-untold story and achieves in a few short years the fame, wealth and literary renown he always desired ... A truly unique plot in its own right, the book is getting a lot of attention from the publishing industry, and indeed, it's a joy in part for its insider look at the writer's solitary craft juxtaposed against the hype and marketing of the publishing world ... It's a cerebral thriller sure to excite fans of Korelitz's other novels but also new readers curious about how writers get their ideas ... The Plot explores this quaint notion on a visceral and hyper-literal level to devastating effect.
... filled with the hallmark twists of a suspense narrative. But beneath all the fun, Korelitz poses a serious question: Does the identity of a writer matter, as long as the story is worth telling? ... only subtly concerned with conversations about race, with Jake bearing a striking lack of self-awareness when it comes to his white and male privilege. Yet as with the American Dirt -controversy, The Plot explores whether fiction must be rooted in something real in order to be good.
Korelitz is an erudite and elegant writer whose steady tone in each of her books is outdone only by her steady hand with, yes, plot. As long as she's focusing on Bonner's easy ethics and early success, her steadiness, underlaid by sly humor, promises a takedown that will topple all the big and pompous male authors of our time ... However, the question 'What's the harm?' does need answering, and it's in cooking up a response that Korelitz falters, because she makes this a fair-play mystery, meaning the kind that scatters clues throughout like bread crumbs, allowing readers to solve the dilemma if they so choose ... Unfortunately, one of those clues had me guessing the ending — correctly — before I'd even reached the book's midpoint. It was a red flag, and even though I want to add a counterpoint to that phrase, I'm more committed to not giving spoilers than I am to my own cheekiness. Suffice to say plenty of readers will also guess ... Unfortunately, grace notes like that aren't enough to overcome some of the more pedestrian passages in which Bonner, like a plodding Captain Hastings without a Hercule Poirot in sight, attempts to figure out the Parker-family puzzle. It might be, from a writer of Korelitz's talent, that I wanted and expected a more fiendish and psychologically driven book. Instead, this Plot falls flat.
The premise of the novel seems enthralling...But past the storyline, The Plot falls short of achieving a similar enchantment ... Like You Should Have Known, Korelitz’s The Plot is a thriller. However, unlike her previous work, The Plot is not as engaging of a read. Jake, increasingly glum about his literary failures, is a rather insufferable character ... Though it’s obvious Evan is an integral character, he is practically forgotten in part two. Instead, Korelitz attempts to deliver suspense through ending chapters with cliché remarks about how Jake’s life is about to change dramatically ... Who would have guessed that a failing author would steal the work of a character conveniently introduced and killed off several chapters later? The Plot wastes countless chapters complicating and dragging out a simple premise: Man steals dead student’s work. The entire first half of the novel could have easily been condensed into a single paragraph ... Korelitz’s pacing leaves much to be desired. It’s not until the middle of the novel that the real conflict is introduced ... The inclusion of the story within the story was the best choice Korelitz could’ve made. Crib honors the suspenseful aspects of the thriller that The Plot is unable to achieve on its own. I was more excited to read the excerpts from Crib than I was to accompany Jake on his journey to uncover the truth, which was frustratingly foreseeable and almost too easy. I knew how the novel would end four chapters prior to what should have been the final emotional punch. Korelitz spelled too much out for us and consequently took the thrill out of the thriller ... Though I was intrigued by the premise and remained interested throughout the novel’s progression, I was disappointed by her techniques and the predictability of it all. I was eager to be shocked, startled and scared like Korelitz’s past thrillers have left me, but The Plot is a slow burn. Instead of striking the reader with unexpected twists and turns, Korelitz’s momentum is steady and unsurprising ... Perhaps it was my own expectations that caused the downfall of the novel, given my initial enthusiasm that Korelitz’s past work had provoked. It’s worth the read if you are interested, but it guarantees more disappointment than excitement or exhilaration.
Korelitz effortlessly deconstructs the campus novel and, much like Michael Chabon in Wonder Boys (1995), acerbically mocks the publishing industry. Fearless Korelitz presents a wry and unusual joyride of a thriller full of gasp-inducing twists as it explores copyright, ownership, and the questionable morals of writers.
Fans of slow-burn, character-driven thrillers will enjoy this story of an author who has a secret he is desperately trying to keep. Recommended for fans of secrets-fueled suspense writers like Jennifer Hillier, Clare Mackintosh, and Gilly Macmillan.
... finely paced ... Think of getting two books literally for the price of one, both of which are immediately readable and unforgettable. I guessed a couple of plot elements, including a major one, but never would have arrived at the plot of Crib if chained to a typewriter to pound away at for all eternity. I won’t give it away and hope you won’t either, even if you read it before all your friends do. And believe me, they will.
... ingeniously twisty ... Deep character development, an impressively thick tapestry of intertwining story lines, and a candid glimpse into the publishing business make this a page-turner of the highest order. Korelitz deserves acclaim for her own perfect plot.
The Plot is a literary thriller in two important ways. First, it’s fun for people who like in-jokes about publishing, the insecurities of authors, and terrible creative writing programmes at small US colleges. It’s also a twisty page-turner (yes, I stayed up nearly all night to finish it) built on the disputed ownership of a novel, or at least the plot of one ... If Hanff Korelitz’s record continues, her book may herald a new age of reckonings with plot 'borrowing' and accusations that authors appropriate others’ real lives. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn murderous.
... satisfyingly twisty ... Alert readers will guess some of the twists in advance as Jake follows the trail to Evan’s family home in Vermont and slowly realizes Evan didn’t invent this shocking story but lifted it from the real life of someone who is very, very angry about it; Korelitz plays fair and plants clues throughout. But only the shrewdest will anticipate the jaw-dropping final revelation ... Korelitz, who demonstrated in Admission (2009) and You Should Have Known (2014) that she knows how to blend suspense with complex character studies, falls a little short on the character end here; Jake is a sympathetic but slightly bland protagonist, and Anna has the only other fully developed personality. No one will care as the story hurtles toward the creepy climax, in the best tradition of Patricia Highsmith and other chroniclers of the human psyche’s darkest depths ... ripping and thoroughly unsettling: This one will be flying off the shelves.