The gritty subject matter is juxtaposed against a prose style we tend to associate with a different kind of novel — it reads more like a coming-of-age story than a thriller. Würger’s writing is mannered; it often has an otherworldly, fable-like quality ... Würger avoids most references to contemporary life — if Hans had a television growing up, we don’t know it — and there is a Gothic quality to the series of misfortunes he heaps upon his young hero ... The self-conscious bleakness and attempts at timelessness can seem a little forced, as if they are mostly intended to give the impression of depth and to distinguish the book from more commercial novels ... So, an underdog in a dazzling social setting and a mystery to solve — one that happens to involve attending parties full of scantily clad and strangely accommodating young women? Combine those elements with a prose style that is literary — or rather 'literary' — without being difficult, and an undeniably true social message (that rape is very bad, and so are old-boy networks that perpetuate it in ritualistic form), and it seems as if The Club is almost ingeniously designed for success: a guilty pleasure, but one we can leave sitting out on our coffee tables without a whiff of embarrassment.
Equal parts coming-of-age tale and thriller, the story features a well-known institution ripe for critique—the secretive societies of higher education—and is willing to tackle complex issues of elitism and misogyny, all while keeping the reader engaged ... The novel hits readers with nine different first-person narrators to mixed results, although most of these characters have something fascinating to add to the story ... Würger takes a big risk, though, in giving so much narrative space to Josh, but almost everything about the character is surprising. He is undoubtedly amoral, a calm and calculating in knocking down everything in his path, yet he is entertainingly eccentric and flamboyant ... the pages turn quickly, regardless of who’s telling the story ... the truth when revealed is much more pedestrian yet horrific ... the novel ultimately proves as compelling as its robust cast of the characters.
The book, a bestseller in Europe and now translated into English by Charlotte Collins, tackles hot-button issues of privilege and toxic masculinity, to mixed results. As a thriller, it's competent; as a literary novel, it's well-meaning but underwhelming ... The Club, like any thriller, depends on plot twists for its power, and unfortunately, the plot is pretty predictable ... That's not to say the book isn't readable; it is, and Würger knows how to use his spare prose to build suspense. Sadly, he hasn't put enough thought into character development ... Few of the other characters are adequately fleshed out either ... You can't fault Würger for being boring, though; he does keep the reader turning the pages, which is harder to do than it might seem. And his critique of gender and class privilege is well-taken — it's great that he's addressing these topics, and his heart is undoubtedly in the right place. He's not by any means an untalented author; it's easy to imagine him writing a more powerful thriller that deals with serious issues. Unfortunately, The Club isn't it.