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on 29 September 2017
I enjoyed it for as long as it felt like how Highsmith might have written her most famous character's backstory; it's never pretentious, but the well-honed prose can ultimately only mirror the intelligent, articulate shallowness of the characters, with the whole Greek gloss not really adding up to much. It's not clever-clever, but it does not address why the authoritarian nature of such Praetorian groups is always so attractive in so much literature and media. Instead it signs up to it & doesn't deliver any new twist nor meaningful irony. Great training ground for Ripley.
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on 15 September 2017
A beautiful, intelligent and infuriating book. The fate of one of the characters is revealed within the first two pages; it is not a thriller in the conventional sense.
The characters are sly, cunning, malicious, self-entitled...the list could go on and on; it has been a long time since I have disliked protagonists this much. However, it is captivating and I genuinely could not put this book down. It truly deserves its status as a modern classic, and I am already looking forward to my next Tartt read.
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on 16 October 2017
This is a brilliant book. A group of students seen through the eyes of one of them. The characters are so skill fully drawn you laugh, cry and suffer with them. If you enjoyed The Goldfinch you won’t be disappointed by this very different tale.
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on 25 September 2017
Great read
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on 28 February 2014
Intense, profound, and amazingly well researched. I wouldn't classify it as crime or thriller , but gripping nevertheless. It's difficult to believe the author was only 20 when she wrote it.
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on 11 September 2016
This novel has left me with very mixed feelings; at moments I could easily give this a full score, at other times due to what I consider to be some glaring flaws I want to give it a distinctly average 3 stars.

(Edit: I've just knocked it down to a 3, after trying to discuss this with a friend yesterday I found after only reading it mere months ago I could remember very little character detail but did remember pages and pages of Greek history that have next to no part to do with the actual story, never a good sign!)

As always I find it easier to write about what I dislike about a book, and I have plenty of little niggling things here.

Actually my first one isn’t small or niggling at all; it’s pretty big and has bothered me from about halfway. I’ve already discussed it with my GR friend who has (unintentionally) been the biggest reason I got around to reading this now as it’s her favourite book and I respect her opinion, and that’s the drug use in this book. I don’t mean that in a prissy, drugs are bad way, but firstly how they are introduced to the major players of the novel. On 40% (reading on a kindle so I can be absurdly accurate!) we find Richard, our narrator, sitting in a car with known drug user Judy, happily taking coke while spying on Henry. No big deal, had it been setup, but (at least to me) there was no sign that Richard had even accidental passive smoking of weed up to this point, it really threw me on how I had been perceiving the main character for the last 200 pages or so.

Now I’m not prudish with drugs, never been a user myself but have been around them in my time like most would have been. But I went to a University with a student base of around 34,000, and as everyone does I went to parties and gigs, But not once did I stumble upon students using meth, so I’m meant to believe that pretty much every student at the tiny fictional Hampden are happy to take hard drugs like they are candy? Maybe I’m just ignorant of 80’s America drug use, but every time drugs were mentioned it just didn’t ring true for me.

Now I’ve got that rant out of the way other things that bothered me were that the second half of the book simply isn’t as engrossing as the first, it’s far from bad, but after how great the first part was it seems a bit deflated, and the part where everyone is at the Corcoran’s is very sluggish, but luckily it’s short.

And oh oh oh Donna, why mention the Bacchanal so little! Yes it’s probably intentional, making you want to read the rest of the novel just in case, but really?! You take potentially the most interesting single piece and it gets about two further mentions in the book, never in any detail at all. It works as it is, but I defy anyone who loved this book not to be aching to know more about what happened that night.

I’m going to stop there because even to myself I’m currently wondering how I gave it 4 stars. But it’s pretty simple really, it’s so damn readable. Ignore the absurd drug use; ignore the pretty unbelievable characters that even in a 550 page novel you never really learn enough about; ignore that every male (including her twin brother!) seems to be in love with the female who doesn’t seem to actually have one good thing going for her; ignore that the whole novel is pretty contrived and it seems impossible for Richard to stumble upon exactly the next piece of information he needs at exactly the right time. After all that; most of which you only discover upon completion of the book, you’ve got a superbly written, page turning mystery (reverse-mystery? I have no idea if there is a correct term for what this book is). I was genuinely gripped for reasons I almost can’t put my finger on beyond the quality of Tartts’ writing and needing to know how the players in this quintessential modern times Greek tragedy turned out.
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on 2 November 2016
Favourite book of all time, ever
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Brilliant at first, but then dies off.
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on 17 October 2014
Having just read the other reveiws for this book I realize that I might have missed something here.
I found the book slow, boring and indulgent. None of the characteres resonated for me. I could not have cared less about their outcome. There was not one character that I embraced.
If the book had not come highly reccommended I would have definitely have given up on it. However, I forced myself to read it right to the end, including the epilogue.
I did not warm to it. I did not embrace the story or the characters and quite honestly whilst it was "Different" I wished I hadn't wasted that time when there are so many other good books out there waiting to be read.
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on 10 September 2017
Quite an engrossing read in parts, and the ongoing element of suspense kept me interested, especially during the first half, but I struggled with the amount of drink & drugs usage (and, as another reviewer said - not in a prudish way), and could not warm or relate to Richard, in particular.
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