You guys, this book.
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz came out last spring, and I saw the buzz build for it almost immediately. A friend lent it to me right before my vacation, and I started it on the plane ride home. From that minute on, I could not put it down. Maybe the most addictive book I’ve read all year!
The Plot opens with Jake Bonner, an author with one well-reviewed but obscure novel under his belt, who works as an author-professor at a middling writers program in Vermont each year. While there one year, a student named Evan comes to him with a sample of a novel, claiming that the book has such an unbelievable plot that it is destined to be a bestseller, beloved by millions, made into a movie, etc. And then the student tells Jake the plot. Years later, his career having slid even further into obscurity, Jake learns that his student has died, presumably without ever writing the book. He’s an author without a good plot… while his student had an amazing plot but never published the book… and don’t good stories need to be told, regardless of who tells them?
So Jake writes the book, and it’s a huge hit. He achieves all of his dreams – the book tours, the Oprah couch, the movie adaptation – but he can’t escape the nagging fear that he’ll be found out. And then the emails start coming… anonymous messages from someone saying they know that Jake stole the story and threatening to tell the world.
I don’t want to spoil any more of the story behind The Plot, but it really takes off from there. Who was Evan and how did he come across this story? How did the person threatening Jake know about Evan? And will Jake emerge unscathed?
I really loved The Plot. Hanff Korelitz’s writing is smart and funny, and the book is full of snark about the publishing industry. It starts out a little slow, but once it gets going, it’s like a steam engine. I ignored a lot of other things in my life so that I could finish this book! The only thing that kept it from five stars was the ending… I figured out a twist pretty early on that weakened the impact a little bit. But The Plot was still a fantastic ride. Highly recommended.
I did this one on audio and print because I couldn’t tear myself away from it. The audio is pretty good. It’s narrated by Kirby Heyborne, whose voice I recognized from a few other audiobooks (Goodbye For Now, My Sunshine Away). He did a great job with this, making Jake sympathetic and expertly conveying his paranoia. If you’re thinking of trying the audio version, go for it.
The Plot was the 43rd book of 2021 and satisfies the Book Recommended By My Best Friend category of the 2021 EDIWTB Reading Challenge because it was recommended to me by my best friend Tuvana.