Book Review: The Secret History

Do you know those books where you hate every single character and spend the whole book wanting to smack them across the face? You do?! Good, because The Secret History by Donna Tartt is one of those kinds of books.

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever, and they discover how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill.

This book is written as one of those reverse murder mysteries. The story opens with the main character, Richard, basically writing the story of how he and a group of friends in college killed their friend, Bunny Corcoran. You immediately start off knowing who was murdered and were the murderers, but not the how or why. While I liked how the story is told in reverse, I think I would have preferred not knowing who had murdered Bunny and later it be revealed that it was Richard and his friends. It would’ve added a little bit of shock value to the story, because the why is just about the stupidest reasoning ever and it could have really used some actual tension.

Oh, the characters…. I hated them all. Granted, I’m well aware that’s exactly what you’re supposed to feel towards Richard, Bunny, Henry, Francis, Charlie, and Camilla. However, I didn’t hate them because they’re pretentious little assholes and they murdered their friend. No, no, I hated them because they are STUPID pretentious little assholes that murdered their friend. Every decision they make throughout this book is about the most awful choice any person could make. It’s like if we were playing a game of Would You Rather, and the question was, “Would you rather jump off of a building without any safety net or eat an ice cream cone?” and you chose to jump off the building. Now instead of just doing the logical thing, you are purposely choosing to jump off a building because you think it means something special about you to be subversive, that by choosing the illogical, you are somehow part of a higher species than the rest of us. Ummm, no that’s not what that means at all. Nope, you, sir, are just a fucking idiot. That’s Richard and his friends – they are just a group of fucking idiots, who are of the incorrect opinion that they are the most brilliant people upon this Earth.

Now the prose was wonderful. This is the only novel of Tartt’s that I’ve ever read, but I can definitely see why she has become such a celebrated author. The words flow beautifully and every scene is so intricately described without cluttering the storyline. The writing definitely is a nod towards the literary fiction set.

However, even with the insanely idiotic characters and flowery prose, the storyline pulls you in. It’s a large book that is so fast-paced, you don’t even realize that you’ve read 100 pages in one sitting. I was afraid that this book would drag in stretches or even the entire time, but it never did. I was constantly excited to see where the story would go to next, and had so much trouble putting it down. I even chose to read it at my desk during my lunch hour, rather than go home and relax for a bit. It was almost like not being able to look away from a car wreck, even though I knew it was going to turn out awful and I disagreed with every choice the characters made.

And that’s how I know that this book was really, really good.

Read it.

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars


Have you read The Secret History? What are your thoughts on it? Did you like the characters? Did you agree with their actions?

Musing Mondays – December 19th, 2016

Musing Mondays is a weekly theme, now being hosted by Ambrosia @ The Purple Booker, that asks you to answer one of the prompt questions and that week’s random question.

PROMPTS:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) this past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Do you tend to find that you make more time to read during the holiday season? Or do you have less time to read because of the hustle of the season?


I can’t wait to get a copy of…

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Ash and Quill (The Great Library, #3) by Rachel Caine

Seriously, I have got to know how this all ends. The last book ended on a cliffhanger and now my favorite group of smartie pants are heading to America! Is it July yet?!

The unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire unite to save the Great Library of Alexandria from itself in this electrifying adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealousy guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny….

Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.

Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library….

Do you tend to find that you make more time to read during the holiday season? Or do you have less time to read because of the hustle of the season?

While there is a lot going on, with the entire family being in town to visit for the holidays, I actually tend to read more. This is mostly because I have a 9 to 5 job and during the holidays I am off on vacation, which allows me to stay at home and read 24/7. I’m taking my vacation next week and so I’ll be off from December 22nd until January 3rd… ALLLLLL THE READING!!!


What books are you excited to get your hands on? Do you read more during the holidays, or do you not have enough time? Leave a link to your Musing Mondays in the comments below!