Cover Image: The Wagers

The Wagers

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Member Reviews

The Wagers is the second novel released by the one and only Sean Michaels. This time around, he’s writing about a comedian, and he needs a major change in his life. Or in his luck. Either would suffice, at this point.
	Theo Poitris has been doing standup comedy on the side since he was a teenager. He’s loved the thrill and truth of it, refusing to ever tell a joke more than once. But then one day he realizes that he’s chasing an old dream and not getting anywhere, so it’s time for a dramatic change.  

	“When Theo went on stage he wanted to be able to trust whatever happened – to get up and tell a joke and to know without a doubt, for a few faint seconds, whether that joke was any good.”

	The Wagers is one of those slow-burning, steady buildup novels. Theo’s journey is an eclectic one, but it takes a bit of time before we can truly dive into the insanity that is waiting for us. 
	Actually, before I begin my review, let me take a step back for a moment. I have a confession to make; the real reason that The Wagers caught my attention? The cover! I’m a sucker for black cats, so this cutie on the cover immediately caught me and made me want to learn more about it. Sadly, that appearance is more thematic than literal. Still a great cover!
Much of Theo’s life has remained static for years, and that does show clearly in this novel. I’ll admit that I had trouble getting into this book, because of how slow the beginning was. I was impressed with the writing – but just found myself wishing time and again that something more would happen.
The story does start ramping up in time, adding more and more inane bits of humor and reference throughout. It actually gets a bit crazy – in a fun way. But the journey to get there diminished some of that for me.
On the whole, I found that the ending made the read worthwhile. Actually, the writing itself did that. I liked Michaels' way of writing, regardless of what was actually happening on the pages. The humor and conclusion was just icing on the cake.
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Thank you to Random House Canada and Netgalley for the advanced copy for my honest review. 

This has to be my first DNR of the year - I read about 2-3 chapters in and just simply did not get it. The characters were not resonating with me and unable to finish the rest of it. The premise sounded so original and fun! I was a bit disappointed.
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The book sounded interesting, that was why I requested it, but once I received it I don't think this is my kind of book.  I've never read anything by this author but he seems to be a good writer.  It seemed to drag in places, but some of the location descriptions made me want to travel to those places.  I really have mixed feelings, I don't want to rate the book badly as I think it might be a good book for a different audience, but not for me at this time.
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The premise of The Wagers was interesting, but unfortunately it just didn’t do it for me. I tried to get into the writing, but the pacing was very slow. I wouldn’t say that the writing is bad, this book just wasn’t for me. I did appreciate how varied the characters were, and I think the author did a good job of portraying people realistically.
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2.5 stars 

Part of this novel is great, and part is a big struggle. "The Wagers" starts off well, like a promising family drama. Theo works in the family grocery business somewhere in Canada. The whole family is involved the the store is a neighborhood staple, selling the Greek goods the family started out with and expanding to foods from all over the world. The family mostly lives in apartments above the store.

Theo has a Friday ritual. He places a bet on a horserace, and the result says whether he'll go do a set at a local comedy club. Following a family tradition, he takes his 13 year old niece to place a bet on her birthday. She's been researching, and wins four million dollars.

This is where the novel veers off. Theo becomes involved with The Rabbit's Foot, an organization that researches luck. It's a lot of algorithms and hacking weirdos--charmless, all--but then he becomes with the Non Names, who believe luck is an actual thing, a sort of sand. They research lucky people and attempt to find is they have any of this sand, and if they do, they try to steal it. I ended up skimming this part.

I likes the opening of this novel well enough to go on the hunt for one of Sean Michaels' earlier novels.  I'm not sure how much of an audience there is for a book that sort of combines Anne Tyler and Neal Stephenson. 

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for approving me to read and review!

~~Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader
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Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book. I got half way through this book and decided I couldn't finish. Just didn't grab my attention.
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The Wagers is well-written and invited me in to a fictional world. I’m glad to share the good news about this new release.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Tin House Books for this free digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

Description
From Giller-Prize-winning author Sean Michaels, The Wagers is a wild and magical novel about what it means to not only chase luck, but find it.

When Theo Potiris performed his stand-up comedy act on Conan at 25, he thought he’d hit it big. But ten years later, he's still spending his days working at his parents’ grocery store, bicycling to the local open mic, and writing letters to a girlfriend who lives halfway around the world. Theo’s desperate for a break. But when he brings his thirteen-year-old niece to the horse track to place a birthday bet—a Potiris family tradition—the goddess of good luck strikes her instead, in the form of a small fortune. Try as he might to be happy for her, Theo’s shock and envy finally push him out of the family nest, away from his comedy dreams and toward a new calling.

First: a mysterious corporation called The Rabbit’s Foot, which carefully quantifies and cashes in on luck. Then: to a gang of vigilantes, who recruit Theo to help them steal luck from those who carry more than their fair share. The Wagers is a literary motorcycle chase, carried by stylish prose and delightful invention. But it’s also an investigation of work and purpose, happiness and art, the randomness of good fortune, and all the ways we choose to wage our lives.

About the Author:  Sean Michaels was born in Stirling, Scotland, raised in Ottawa, and eventually settled in Montreal, where he founded the pioneering music blog Said the Gramophone. His award-winning writing has also appeared in The Observer, McSweeney's, The Guardian, Pitchfork and The Globe & Mail. His bestselling debut novel, Us Conductors, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, was named one of NPR's best books of the year.

I really wanted to like this book. I had high hopes for it since the description really intrigued me. It was a slow starter, and then, seemed to boggle up in the middle. It was a huge struggle to finish it.
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I lasted a while in this book (20%) but didn’t find myself following this plot. This is a pass for me, on to the next.
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