Cover Image: Nick


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Member Reviews

This book was okay. I didn't sense a strong connection to the Nick Carraway we know and love from Gatsby. The writing was good and I enjoyed the story but I think die-hard Gatsby fans (of which I am not) will be disappointed. That said, I will definitely be interested to see what else the author writes in the future!
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I so wanted to love this book as I adored teaching Gatsby to my high school students. But honestly, it could have been any "Nick" so there is no real connection between the two novels that I could see. The first part shows him during the war so we see the many catastrophes he must endure. Later in New Orleans he's adrift and though he does make some friends, he also endures a fire and other misfortunes. Yes, the book is well-written and often compelling, but I admit I just wanted to identify with the Nick I loved from Gatsby.
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An atmospheric and heartbreaking prequel to The Great Gatsby, I found Nick to be enchantingly well-written and yet lacking in connection to the famous work of literature that inspired it.  Nick Carraway was frankly the most unimportant and uninteresting character in The Great Gatsby, and yet Farris Smith's telling of his life before Gatsby was quite enthralling as a stand-alone story.  Had Gatsby not been a favorite of mine, I certainly would have enjoyed Nick more.  The greatness of Gatsby looms over this novel and while I admire Michael Farris Smith's initiative, Nick is a valiant effort that was most certainly doomed from the start.
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When I saw this book on Netgalley I knew I had to read it. As a fervent lover of The Great Gatsby (and that cover) I wanted to see if someone would be able to give Nick the characterization he deserves.

Nick is that character that we never truly know in The Great Gatsby, he is the typical unreliable narrator. The author here makes some attempt to uncover this character, but I also think that half of the book isn't about Nick at all.

Nick's experiences at the front were my favourite parts of the book. I thought that the book really captured the experiences at the front and as someone who studies war, this book delivered on that count.
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I have always loved The Great Gatsby. It was the only book I remember in high school and I have enjoyed it with my own daughter. So when I saw Nick, I had to read it. I had to find out Nick's story.
It begins with Nick in the trenches of war. Nick then travels to New Orleans when he gets back to America. 
I felt like there was a lot that got rushed. Tragedy after tragedy. And I kept wondering through the book, "Is this supposed to be the same Nick I followed in Gatsby?" It feels as though these trials and tribulations would have made him have a thicker skin. Although he is just along for the ride on some with some of the people he meets.
I guess I was wanting and expecting more. Not a bad story, but it just left me with a bit of an empty hole I was hoping to fill with a follow-up.
Thanks, NetGalley for the read.
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I wanted to love this one, because one of my favorite Classics is The Great Gatsby.  I've always wanted more of Nick Carraway's back story. And while we do get a picture of what he was doing before The Great Gatsby  I just wish we had gotten more of his time in WWI.  But we do get to see the after effects of the war on him. And true to his character in The Great Gatsby he's still a bit of unreliable narrativeor .   Though I didn't love the book I still enjoyed it, and the novel is well written.  And I feel that every Gatsby fan should give it a try.
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The Gatsby gut-reaction is a quick reflex - an itch that demands attention. The cover of Nick caught my eye and I had to read the book. But from the onset, there is a heavy weight that just becomes a contest of endurance to plow through passages of prolonged sadness.  There's just this search for something good, something with that sheen to make your eyes perk up and take notice. I sat with this book for a long time, re-reading and there's so many tiny swells of depression, but it is almost as if Nick volunteers for more. Oh, you thought this was bad? Here, let me make it worse. It was so out of line with what I had expected, I felt as if I missed something. There's nothing wrong with the story, it just isn't what I think Gatsby fans were signing up for.
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I reviewed this on my blog, goodreads, and for AudioFile magazine. Details provided directly to the publisher in the next round of this process
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An interesting 'prequel' that provides backstory for a character who I never considered to have mush psychological depth.  Given the tone of Michael Farris Smith's previous works, I was surprised that the author took on this subject matter, and in my opinion, did a great job.  The postwar experiences of Nick give a more gritty realism to the character and the time period, explaining the nihilism and frivolity of the decade that followed.  I found that this made the Gatsby characters slightly more sympathetic and reminded the reader that the 'Lost Generation' was lost for a reason.  Its not Fitzgerald, but if you can get over that mental obstacle, the book offers its own rewards.
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I learned this year that The Great Gatsby was coming into public domain, so that means authors can write retellings and prequels/sequels. Michael Farris Smith is a Mississippi author that took on the challenge of writing a prequel from Nick's perspective. I read Gatsby again in anticipation of reading Nick. The one thing I kept thinking while I was reading was this is a propelling read! Every sentence pulled me on to the next. I have read several articles about Smith writing Nick, and the feel of Gatsby is definitely there. Smith also touched on themes of PTSD in a time when no one knew how to even put words to that condition or how to help. Very good read, highly recommended!
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This book is supposed to be the shadow character finally get its spotlight, and originally I have been hesitant to dive into ta classic retelling as I did not quite enjoy the book or the movie version of The Great Gatsby. My mindset when I do book reviews and feedback for NetGalley, is "Can I see this book existing and being utilized academically in my classroom curriculum/classroom library for accessibility purposes", and frankly, I did not see that as much for this book for me. In addition, due to possibly a biased mindset at the moment, I felt that I had to go back and look into what The Great Gatsby was about to be able to dive into the retelling comfortably. But, maybe the book is not for me, and I do hope that others look into this book and seek joy.
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I was so excited to read this. The syntax and language were stunning, but it was so depressing and hard for me to connect to the Nick that we see in Gatsby.
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I was drawn to this title for all the obvious reasons. Like the author, I've reread the Great Gatsby multiple times and have always been captivated. I'll admit I hadn't spent much time thinking about Nick as a character until I watched the most recent film version, so I was taken in by a promise to deliver a multi-dimensional portrait of the man who delivered Gatsby, Daisy, and the roaring 20s to us in such glittering and heartbreaking prose.
In the end, it seems that Farris Smith has not given us Nick, but used a gimmick to see an otherwise solid story of a WW1 soldier returned home gutted and rudderless. The Nick that Michael Farris Smith has written into life only bears a passing resemblance to Gatsby's confidant. True, people change with time, but for this to have read like the companion piece it claims to be, there needed to have been a stronger thread binding the two stories together. At best, this was a missed opportunity, and at worst a marketing gimmick.
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I loved this book. It was so interesting to hear a version of Nick's life prior to how the world has come to know him. I like how this author described his life in Europe during the war and back in the States.
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Unfortunately I couldn’t get into this one. I love THE GREAT GATSBY so I thought I’d enjoy reading this about Nick, but I just couldn’t. It felt weird to explore a character from such a prominent work in American literature without knowing if Fitzgerald really intended for his character to be portrayed in that way. This one just didn’t work out for me!
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What the heck did I just read? I have to admit that I was really, really excited for this book, but it didn't live up to my expectations at all. As a pretty big Great Gatsby fan (it's in my top 5 books of all-time list), I was thrilled by the idea of getting a look into Nick Carraway's life before he ends up in West Egg and meets Gatsby. 

The first part of the book was OK for me as it details Nick's time in Europe fighting in WWI. I'm not a big war fiction reader, but I could see how these experiences would play into Nick's personality later on. In Paris, he meets a girl who has a lasting effect on him and again, I could see how this may affect him later on. The writing style is incredibly different than Great Gatsby and if you didn't know it was supposed to be a prequel, you would never guess this Nick is the same Gatsby Nick, but that's OK.

However, after the war, he goes to New Orleans (in search of the girl and to avoid going home to run his family's business) and this is where a great majority of the book takes place. We meet a new cast of characters who are basically just trying to kill each other, steal from each other each other, etc. There's tons of violence and debauchery and none of it seems to make much sense. It almost feels like the author wrote a book about a man and a woman and their crazy life in New Orleans,  realized he couldn't sell it, and decided to turn it into a Gatsby prequel. There are parts that Nick isn't even in, we start hearing other character's perspectives at times, etc.

I would have loved more about Nick's family life (hearing the story of growing up with his mother and father was especially powerful), their expectations on him, how war and meeting the girl changed him, etc. Instead I felt like I was caught up in a raucous prohibition crime story. The only way I can really rationalize it as a prequel is that these happenings are just another occurrence of how crazy things happen around Nick and he's just there to witness them. But that just doesn't seem like enough.

I normally would just chalk it up to this book "not being the book for me," but I honestly felt like the writing in this was subpar and just awkward. I've heard great things about Michael Farris Smith's other books (though I haven't read any) so I'm just left confused. Oh well, it was probably too much to ask for a Gatsby prequel that I would love anyway and is one really necessary? I'll just go back and read the original again!
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"Before Nick Carraway moved to West Egg and into Gatsby's periphery, he was at the center of a very different story-one taking place along the trenches and deep within the tunnels of World War I.

Floundering in the wake of the destruction he witnessed firsthand, Nick delays his return home, hoping to escape the questions he cannot answer about the horrors of war. Instead, he embarks on a transcontinental redemptive journey that takes him from a whirlwind Paris romance-doomed from the very beginning-to the dizzying frenzy of New Orleans, rife with its own flavor of debauchery and violence.

An epic portrait of a truly singular era and a sweeping, romantic story of self-discovery, this rich and imaginative novel breathes new life into a character that many know but few have pondered deeply. Charged with enough alcohol, heartbreak, and profound yearning to paralyze even the heartiest of golden age scribes, Nick reveals the man behind the narrator who has captivated readers for decades."

Because the most important person in Gatsby is Nick! His views, his mind, form everything we know. He is a unreliable narrator that needs to be looked into!
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The copyright and public domain story is the least of it with this, the first of what will surely be many The Great Gatsby continuations, parafictions, and prequels. Happy to include this new book in January's Novel Encounters, my monthly top ten roundup column of notable upcoming fiction titles for Zoomer magazine’s Books section. To read the feature, click on the link.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for an egalley in exchange for an honest review.

Before Gatsby and that silly fool Daisy and the glitter of the 1920s, F. Scott Fitzgerald's Nick Carraway finds himself in the trenches of WWI and chasing an unforgettable woman in Paris. Oh, it was good and it had me hooked. This prequel turned the focus on a character that I had often wondered about each time I read The Great Gatsby. Nick emerges as a son haunted by events of his childhood, a mother who battled mental illness and a domineering father who wants to dictate his son's life. So very interesting. Then the story shifts to the return to the US, with Nick dealing with aftershocks of the battlefield and no yearning to return to his hometown. So he flees to the fascinating city of New Orleans and much intrigue does ensue. However, it didn't really hook me like the first half of the book. Yet at the same time, it does show the reader that Nick appears to be the type of fellow who gets himself caught up in the intrigues of a couple's relationship.

Now that the copyright of The Great Gatsby has expired, I certainly look forward to all that will transpire in the literary world. Nick gives us a promising beginning of a new chapter that will likely create new fans of the American classic. What's Daisy got to say for herself?

Goodreads review published 11/01/21
Publication Date 05/01/21
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I’m always up for a prequel especially when it involves one of the most beloved novels of all time, The Great Gatsby!

This review has TGG spoilers, but I mean we’ve had almost 100 years to read it. 🤦🏼‍♀️

Our dependable narrator in TGG, Nick Carraway, who mostly existed to tell others’ stories now gets to have his own story. We follow Nick as he fights in WWI, has a brief affair in Paris, and comes back to America after the war and ends up in New Orleans. 

I’ve gotta hand it to Nick, he’s gone through some STUFF. This book doesn’t sugar coat it either. While re-reading TGG again before diving into this prequel, you do get the feeling that Nick has been through some things that set him apart from the luxury and naivety of the other Egg residents. It also made me think that this is why he would have had so much empathy to Gatsby’s plights. He embraced Gatsby even when he found out that much of his background was a sham. 

The first half of the book was fantastic and it wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine this Nick as the same person as Gatsby’s Nick. However, the New Orleans storyline seemed like it was too dramatic and a bridge too far. I found myself not caring as much about the characters in the second half as I should have. 

My favorite part about this book was finding parallels between the two books, like I was stumbling upon a little Easter egg. My favorite one involved Nick fighting deep in a trench in France wondering who would come to his funeral. This immediately made me think of the touching way Nick tried to rally up Gatsby’s “friends” to come to his funeral. He took honoring his friend’s life quite seriously. 

All in all, I think this book is enjoyable. JIs it Fitzgerald? Not quite. But it’s still a super interesting dive into the life of one of literature’s best narrators. 

Thank you to @netgalley and @littlebrown for a copy of this book!
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