The Secret History by Donna Tartt
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars (read June 2016)
You know that stretch of time between the last chapter and the epilogue that an author typically ignores because if she did write about it, the reader would get bored and stop reading before the novel was over? Okay well the last 300 pages of this novel was comprised of nothing but that boring stretch of time. Only a strong sense of curiosity deeply rooted in bewilderment kept me reading.
Donna Tartt graduated college and was like, "Now what do I do with this pointless Bachelor's in Classics literature, my irrelevant knowledge of Ancient Greek allusions, my extreme superiority complex, and my untapped potential? Oh!! I'll write a pretentious novel about pompous and overly-privileged college students in tweed jackets who engage in Dionysian debauchery in the pursuit of “enlightenment” (which sounds interesting on the book blurb, but I promise you, I’ll somehow make even a hedonistic ritual sound excessively dull). I'll reveal the main plot point on the first page and the rest of the book will be proof of how easy it is to fill 500 pages with nothing, devoid of character development, rising action and meaning." Not one of the characters is even remotely likable. In fact they're all uniquely insufferable and aggressively boring. Their competition to determine which of the six could be the most melancholic and supremely apathetic elitist is more than enough to send even the most hyperactive seven-year-old right to sleep.
Despite all of this, I never once considered not finishing this book. For whatever reason, Tartt had me. No matter how tedious the prose became, no matter how plotless the last half of the novel was, I was still overwhelmingly cloaked in a feeling of suspense, still held at rapt attention trying to figure out what could possibly be hidden in the remaining pages. And even though I despised the characters, there is a huge difference between what makes a good character and what makes a good person. And they're usually mutually exclusive (lol). Just because they disgusted me, doesn't mean they don't have value. Their terrible qualities gave me the desire to hate-read the novel to the end. It is for these reasons I'm giving The Secret History 3.5 stars.
Finishing this novel is a feat. The last page should come with a free ice cream cone coupon because you deserve it. I had to pay for mine, so I'm a little bitter.
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