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.
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.
Würger’s international best-selling debut is a timely, beautifully paced novel about class and prestige in the #MeToo era ... In a campus novel that echoes the detective structure of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History... Würger cycles between each character’s voice to brilliantly evoke the medieval unreality of Cambridge and the almost comical wealth of the students. There is much to dissect in this concise and dramatic tale.