Cover Image: The Cave Dwellers

The Cave Dwellers

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Having lived my entire life in the DC metro area, I was so exited to read this book.  The first six chapters had me hooked immediately, and the historical facts, geography, and cultural references are all accurate.  I was just disappointed by how much time was devoted to the lives of the children. I thought this would be contemporary fiction, but it reads much more like young adult fiction.
Was this review helpful?
This book did not hook me like I had anticipated.  I grew up In the area and loved the historical tidbits the author provided at the end of the chapter. The novel focuses on the wealth and prestige of the elite people of our Capitol city. It was mainly told from the viewpoints of the teenagers so it read a lot to me like young adult fiction.  Sadly, I found myself skimming some parts of the novel because it didn't hold my interest very much.
Was this review helpful?
This was closer to three and a half stars but I rounded up because I found the book hard to put down.  It’s basically a soap opera novel (I’m sure there’s an actual genre name for this but I don’t know what it is) about the not-so-good, the bad, and the ugly of Washington DC society. 
It starts off with a bang when a very wealthy, powerful DC family is murdered in their own home. You’d think this would be a huge deal, but everybody else in the community is so self-involved that hardly anybody cares. And thus, the story goes. 
This was a fun, but provocative, read. I enjoy reading political content so I appreciated the behind the scenes stuff (especially the little historical excerpts) but there wasn’t so much that it will turn away people who swear off politics. 
Where the book suffered a little was the character development. The characters were a bit cliched and tired (the token black friend, the smart one, the social climber, the snob, etc.). This was also the case with the plot points - the author really wanted to make sure that ALL the horrible things that happen in DC were covered in this one story; it was a little much. 
That said, it was still quite entertaining. 
Thanks to #netgalley and #gallerypressbooks #scoutpressbooks for this ARC of #thecavedwellers in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
When Gossip Girl meets Scandal (with a hint of 13 Reasons Why?)!! The Cave Dwellars is a riveting story about power, money, and privilege of the elite society of Washington DC. 

The story starts out strong with a tragic and violent murder of a wealthy family living in an upper class suburb outside the district. Up until about half was through, I couldn’t put down. Unfortunately, during the back half of the book I started to lose interest as I found the characters to be very unlikeable (but perhaps that was the author's point)? Although the novel follows the point of view of a variety of characters, I far more enjoyed reading how the younger generation were dealing with the murders and the power of their own familes. Bunny, one of the younger main characters, spent most of the story line trying to understand what would make someone commit such a heinous crime to a family that's a lot like her own. I think if the author focused more on her and her friends and their experience being the next generation of Washington's High Society members, I would have enjoyed it way more.

I can’t say the ending was satisfying, but I’m glad I picked this one up! If you are a fan of Scandal, Gossip Girl, House of Cards, etc, this is for sure the book for you!
Was this review helpful?
This book! OMG! I have been looking forward to reading this book, and it was worth every single second. Christina McDowell has written one heck of a novel and I could NOT put it down. The ease with which she interlaced these families was incredible, and the ending!!! WHOA! The things that must go on in DC behind the curtains must be incredibly shocking! This story follows those lines, but no spoilers here, you have to read it for yourself. You won't be sorry! Thank you to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Publishing for the egalley!
Was this review helpful?
This isn’t my typical genre; however, I was intrigued by the premise of a family’s murder rocking the world of Washington DC’s elite. Unfortunately, I felt there was no point in mentioning the murders at all. Instead of being a murder mystery, the book focused on things we already know: politicians are corrupt, they have affairs, white privilege and racism exist, and money doesn’t buy happiness. The book ended just as the story began to get interesting, leaving me wondering “what was the point in all that”?

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this arc in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Newsflash: there are rich white people in Washington, DC who are selfish, racist, hypocritical, self-serving assholes. Probably nobody will find this assertion shocking, but it's still difficult not to be a little bit shocked by THE CAVE DWELLERS. The torture and murder of a very wealthy family in the District of Columbia rocks the world of a lot of Washingtonians, but particularly the classmates of the daughter, Audrey. Not that they really liked her, but she was still one of them. Bunny Bartholomew, in particular, is disturbed by the death of her former frenemy, especially as she suspects the suspect is being treated unfairly because he's black.

But Bunny isn't the only one affected, and the murders serve as a catalyst for a lot of dramas simmering just below surface to boil over. Surprisingly for a book written in 2019 and 2020, THE CAVE DWELLERS barely touches on politics--other than to show the hypocrisy of a conservative, family party politician who is a serial cheater and rapist--but is more a social critique. This novel is an eye-opener for anyone who has ever questioned privilege, as well as for those who mistake privileged for #blessed. #TheCaveDwellers #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
A compulsively readable novel in the vein of The Bonfire of the Vanities—by way of The Nest—about what Washington, DC’s high society members do away from the Capitol building and behind the closed doors of their stately homes.

***I received an ARC from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review

I loved this book.  It deals with privilege, race, wealth, teens and adult relationships and the pressures we all face.  I love how it painted the Washington elite in such vivid colors.  I would love to see this turned into a series or film. At the end of each chapter are historical references to different locations around D.C.  I found myself reading those references as well for more information.  This book was so hard to put down.  Once you get all the characters down (there are a lot but she includes a a guide) you really dive deep into their life.  Can't wait to read more by this author.  A big thank you to NetGalley, the publisher Simon and Schuster Canada, and the author for an advance review copy of this book.
Was this review helpful?
I was super excited about this book, imagining a mashup of Scandal and Gossip Girl in novel form. But it ended up not really being for me.

The writing style and language felt stilted and choppy, and the narrative itself was somewhat disjointed. It took a long time for the story to come together, and much longer than I expected to figure out what the actual plot was. For a significant portion of the book, the story felt more expository than plot-driven, and I struggled to stay interested, despite a fascinating setting and premise.

The author clearly had a lot to say about D.C. life and the way that privilege and prejudice are not just protected but enshrined in some political circles, but this was so overt that it completely took the element of interpretation out of play. The reader is essentially told exactly what to think and feel, rather than being strategically guided to deeper conclusions, and that was off-putting to me.

The Cave Dwellers might make a better show/miniseries than a book, in that a visual representation of the story might provoke deeper connections with the characters and a more nuanced approach to understanding the issues of privilege and whiteness. I would probably still watch it, even though I didn’t love the writing, because the premise was interesting and could be executed better. 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3.


Thank you to Christina McDowell, Gallery Books, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Was this review helpful?
The premise of this book was promising - political intrigue privilege and wealthy families with scandalous secrets. Throw in the irresistible setting of Washington DC and you’ve got a winner. Not quite. This book starts off slow and the author is never able to really pull the reader in to the suspense of OMG What Is Going To Happen Next?? The storyline is ok but the only being felt rushed to me and overall the book fell a little flat. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was really meant to be a YA novel. Also way too many characters to keep track of and be vested in.  Thank you to NetGalley for proving me with this e-book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely, 100 percent, loved the setting and premise of this book. I’ve lived in DC for the last 12 years and I think it is surprisingly accurate about the inner circle. But it was super rushed at the end, like the author couldn’t quite meet her deadline. Shame.
Was this review helpful?
In DC there are a small number of families who live an ultra-exclusive existence. They’re from aristocratic, wealthy, and exclusive bloodlines and they only socialize within their own circle. But the world is changing as they’re forced to learn, when a family in their circle is held hostage and brutally murdered while the rest sleep.  The Cave Dwellers by Christina McDowell explores this exclusive society through the viewpoint of several generations. The adults have grown up with this wealth and privilege. For most, it’s been handed down through generations, though a few have been lucky enough to find their way in. Their children—though also handed the privilege of being on the inside—enjoy the financial freedom of their family status, but yearn for something more, only to find they are bound by the constraints of their families.

The Cave Dwellers explores how privilege can both benefit a person’s life and also impact their ability to fully comprehend the lives of others. Sadly, I didn’t finish the book feeling like there were any magnificent revelations. The novel really reads like a sterile exploration of just how wealthy some people can be, describing clothing brands, cars, design aesthetics, etc. The one thing I really didn’t come away with at any point was an emotional attachment to any of the characters, even the murder was presented in an anesthetized manner.

The Cave Dwellers is an interesting tour of the 1% lifestyle, but I was hoping for a more substantial story arc that would restore my optimism for humanity.

*I received an ARC of The Cave Dwellers  from Netgalley and Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review*
Was this review helpful?
This book is about a group of families that are considered “high society” in Washington, D.C. Following a wide age range of characters, this story felt to me like a combination of House of Cards and a darker side of Gossip Girl. 

The first chapter was so intense that I thought, “wow, this is going to be good.” Unfortunately, that was the only time I was truly excited about this book. Although there were bright spots—some chapters where I felt truly engaged—those moments were few and far between. Aside from those morsels, though, I found the content very disturbing and it also was difficult tracking the characters.

Overall, this book just didn’t work for me. But someone who likes dark political/crime stories might enjoy it.

Thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books for this e-ARC I’m exchange for an honest review. 

⚠️ This book is dark and graphic. Please read descriptions and research to make sure this is the right fit for you.
Was this review helpful?
This read like a bad FX show that's aiming to be "edgy" and "current," but one that gets cancelled after only one season because it's unbearable to watch.

This book focused on the upper echelons of Washington D.C. society and it all starts with the brutal murders of a very important family. Someone breaks into the home of the Banks Family and tortures the three people at home before killing them. Their murders are truly grizzly and the premise of this book promises that those deaths set off a kind of chain reaction, rocking the foundation of this well-to-do suburb, not unlike Celest Ng's Little Fires Everywhere.

But here's the thing: by the mid-way point in this book, the murders may as well have never happened. You would think there would be some kind of a mystery surrounding them since the book starts with the murders, but of course not. Instead, we spend our time with an overambitiously large cast of characters living and working in D.C., including a sex-addict senator and his desperate social climbing wife, a high-ranking military official and the son he expects to follow in his exact footsteps, and the teenage daughter of a powerful family and her reckless high school friends.

Each one of these families/groups has their own plotline, but because the author is trying to *say something* about Washington D.C. society in each one, none of their stories go anywhere interesting. On top of that, it seems like the author wanted the characters to be the focal point of the book, but all of them are one-dimensional and you can tell they were all imagined with the purpose of filling pre-prescribed roles based off of the laundry list of messages the author sought to communicate.

Now, most authors want to convey a grander message within their books. I think that's really important, actually. But this author seems to have forgotten that the story must also be interesting. The people need to act like nuanced human beings and not cardboard cutouts of stereotypical figures in D.C. that she hates (with good reason) and therefore wants to figuratively set fire to them in her book. Since it's not an interesting story and because she's trying to say too much with all these simultaneous plotlines centered around detestable characters, it comes off like 3oo-something pages of screaming: I HATE WASHINGTON D.C. AND EVERYONE WHO LIVES THERE. You have the right to feel that way, but can you expect readers to stay engaged when the story doesn't deliver?

Adding insult to injury, the writing is downright bad and it's as subtle as a wrecking ball. Every thought and feeling is inelegantly blurted out on the page. There is no room for a reader to interpret anything about a character's motivations or behavior because the author's done literally all the work of thinking for us.

She's clearly trying to demonstrate that the issues in D.C. run deep. Generations deep. But how she laid out these very complex social issues in such an on-the-nose way (the whole thing is a violation of "show, don't tell") was cringey and not at all effective.
Was this review helpful?
This book started out with a bang, and was hard to put down. The behind the scenes power broking and cheating is well known, but this book started to lay it out.

A third of the way through, the author turned to the spoiled brat kids of the Washington elite and wrote as if their drug infested evenings were normal and they could control their parents.

I thought the last third was going to be better, but she pretty much ended the book as the extreme left wing of citizens would have hoped.

Sorry, but not ALL Washington folks are this pitiful.
Was this review helpful?
They are the families considered worthy of a listing in the exclusive Green Book—a discriminative diary created by the niece of Edith Roosevelt’s social secretary. Their aristocratic bloodlines are woven into the very fabric of Washington—generation after generation. Their old money and manner lurk through the cobblestone streets of Georgetown, Kalorama, and Capitol Hill. They only socialize within their inner circle, turning a blind eye to those who come and go on the political merry-go-round. These parents and their children live in gilded existences of power and privilege. But what they have failed to understand is that the world is changing. And when the family of one of their own is held hostage and brutally murdered, everything about their legacy is called into question.

This book was so good.  It was very timely, as it dealt with issues of racial profiling, racial discrimination, and just generally the way Washington is run by an elite few who have wealth and aristocratic bloodlines on their sides. I loved the bits of history at the end of several of the chapters.  I found those fascinating.  The rest of the book was reminiscent of Lauren Weisberger or  Cecily von Ziegesar.  It was highly entertaining, with bits of educational trivia thrown in for good measure.
Was this review helpful?
I thought I would love this one since it sounded juicy and is set in DC.  I usually love politics including politic thrillers, political history and political romance but this was just . . . lifeless.  It was trying to be super scandalous and just fell flat, for me.  I didn't even mind all the different POV but in trying to have a larger theme of political corruption and money that infects politics in the worst ways, it just felt onerous and boring.  I haven't read anything else by this author but I am now curious and may see what she's written in the past.  Although this didn't work, I could see potential.

The Cave Dwellers comes out next week on May 25, 2021, and you can purchase HERE.  

The walls of this mansion are covered in law books, encyclopedia collections, and photographs of foreign diplomats, kings, queens, and presidents--and Jeff Bezos. An original Chagall hangs above the library's green marble fireplace, near which seven men are seated in Chippendale chairs that form a circle. The men are hard to differentiate from each other, rich white men who are undoubtedly power players. But you'd have to know what kind of car each one drives or the neighborhood in which he lives to truly know who he is: Kalorama, McLean, Chevy Chase, Georgetown.
Was this review helpful?
The book holds a lot of promise, but it leaves me feeling very much left wanting.  The premise is fantastic - looking at the life of the privileged living in DC from the eyes of a group of mostly teens. However, there is so much effort to infuse the idea of white privilege that it takes away focus from the story.  The author goes so far to drive that point home that she leaves footnotes that aren’t really connected to the storyline at the end of each chapter in an attempt to make the reader feel bad.  It is a very interesting look at the politics of DC mired in the authors desired need to make one become part of a culture that intends to make woke culture okay. The three stars are for the actual storyline. Thanks to NetGalley & Goodreads for the advance read.
Was this review helpful?
This one was super interesting. I love the cover and I thought the story was excellent. However, the writing didn't do it for me and that took away from the experience. I'm glad I powered through though.
Was this review helpful?
I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley.  It was a little slow to get started, and many families and characters to keep straight.  But half way through, I couldn't put it down.  While this is a work of fiction my author Christina McDowell, there are definitely more then one thread of truth you can pick up on that mirrors our current culture climate.
Was this review helpful?