Title: The Plot
Author: Jean Hanff Korelitz
Publisher: Faber & Faber
When a young writer dies before completing his first novel, his teacher, Jake, (himself a failed novelist) helps himself to its plot. The resulting book is a phenomenal success. But what if somebody out there knows?
Somebody does. And if Jake can’t figure out who he’s dealing with, he risks something far worse than the loss of his career.
The Plot is a slow burner of a novel but one that slowly draws you further and further in… At the start of the novel we join Jake, a writing teacher/ ‘failed novelist’ over a number of years as he encounters a young writer who claims to have the perfect plot. On hearing the plot, Jake has to agree that it is brilliant – but the years go by and this story never seems to have been published. Then, one day, Jake finds out this student has died and he writes the book himself using the brilliant plot – but it’s not long before it’s clear someone knows he’s stolen the story…
The book does a great job of showing us the build-up of pressure on Jake. We see him struggling to avoid a downward spiral of negative thoughts and stress as the person who wants to see Jake get his comeuppance steps up their campaign. The writing is great and the fact that it includes chapters from this best-selling, amazing novel makes you want to keep reading to work out what exactly this plot that Jake helped himself to actually is.
There are some great twists and turns which kept me guessing. It’s definitely a book that takes a while to build up – the first half of the book is a lot of background setting and a way for the author to show us the stakes. We see what Jake has to lose as his success grows and grows. The last third of the book or so really ramps up the mystery, and I really liked the ending, though you need to suspend your disbelief slightly. The reader also then realises how much foreshadowing was taking place earlier on in the novel, making me tempted to re-read it.
If you enjoy action-packed thrillers only, this might not be for you – you need to give it time to build up. I enjoyed the well-crafted sentences and descriptions and then found myself more and more invested as the tension in the novel ramps in the last half of the book.
For me, this is a clever and enjoyable read, and I’m pleased (and not surprised) to hear that it will be made into a TV series! Recommended.