Jake is an author whose best days seem to be behind him. After the respectable showing of his first novel, he’s now teaching in a relatively unknown MFA program. When arrogant student Evan Parker proclaims the plot of his book “a sure thing,” Jake is doubtful–until he hears the plot.
Several years later, Jake learns that Evan has died, and the book has never been published. So Jake takes the plot and writes his own version–to astounding success. But then the messages start coming in, accusing him of stealing the story. As Jake chases the sender and learns more about Evan Parker, he finds out that his fictional story may be truer than he thought.
This fast-paced novel-within-a-novel is a fun ride, though it didn’t quite deliver on the promise of the can’t-miss plot in either book. I predicted the twists and endings in both–something I don’t consider myself particularly good at. An enjoyable listen, but all the hype made the predictability quite a let-down.
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The Plot is a propulsive read about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it. Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he’s teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what’s left of his self-respect; he hasn’t written—let alone published—anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn’t need Jake’s help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then . . . he hears the plot. Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker’s first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that—a story that absolutely needs to be told. In a few short years, all of Evan Parker’s predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says. As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his “sure thing” of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?