Thrilling and unexpected. A story so unique that it had me baffled for the majority of the novel. What starts out as a mystery and a success story ends in an absolutely perplexing fashion.
Jake Finch Bonner, was once a promising writer who eventually fizzled out into mediocracy and became a teacher at a MFA program. Things kick off when one of Jake's students (Evan Peters) comes to him after class to discuss quite an interesting idea. Evan claims that he has drafted one of the greatest novels in the history of literature. Even going as far as to say that it will be turned into a TV adaptation directed by Stephen Spielberg. Jake is intrigued but dismisses his student's rant as arrogant nonsense. That is until Jake reads an excerpt of the plot and realizes that the novel will be everything Evan claims it will be.
The story then abruptly parts two and a half years later where Jake's life has become more and more mundane. His teaching job became online-only, reducing his salary to almost nothing. He is now working 3 jobs just trying to get by. Jake gets home one night and wonders what ever happened to his former student and his literary masterpiece. Jake shockingly learns that Evan, his former student, died suddenly not long after they had met and discussed his novel. Now that Evan is dead, Jake sees an opportunity. Customary to this novel, the narrative then fast-forwards to when Jake is famous and rich after publishing his novel The Crib. The Crib is based entirely on Evan's plot. However, things take a turn for the worst when Jake starts receiving text messages from someone claiming that they know what he did and that they know that his book is based on stolen ideas. This sets Jake off on an expedition to uncover the past of Evan Peters, all while trying to keep the lie of the life he lives from crashing down upon him.
What makes this book so interesting and unique, is not only the fascinating premise but the implementation of actual excerpts from Jake's stolen novel The Crib. This allows the reader to get a sense of what Evan was talking about when he claimed his novel was a game changer, and it also masterfully allows the plot to slowly be revealed. The Crib slowly reveals Evan Peter's story all the while Jake is just trying to keep up with the daily life of being a famous author. What makes this book so readable, is the unknowingness that surrounds the plot. Is this a thriller? A love story? A mystery? After reading this book, I can conclude that "The Plot" is a thriller, a love story, and a mystery combined.
I have never read a book with this type of plot. That's what makes it so good! Jean Hanff Korelitz has created something worth reading for its sheer uniqueness. Throughout the novel, the reader is left at a dividing point between supporting Jake and despising him for stealing someone else's work. Even after he has reached success, Jake still feels guilty for basically robbing a dead person of their idea. This guilt does not allow Jake to fully relish in the life of a successful author, as he knows deep down that everything he has accomplished in his life was stolen from someone else.
Go check this book out. It will not leave you disappointed. I read this book on a flight and it had me baffled for days as I could not grasp how someone could come up with such a great and unique story. There is a reason "The Plot" was one of the New York Times' most notable books in 2021. Oh and also, this book has one of the most unexpected endings I have ever read.
The Plot By Jean Hanff Korelitz