Cover Image: The Cave Dwellers

The Cave Dwellers

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This could have been so much more - A dark, twisty, suspenseful novel but it seemed quite shallow. White privilege is touched on but not explored, there are too many characters for the sake of having characters, and story lines weren't developed enough.
Was this review helpful?
Engaging, depressing, a bit predictable, yet readable novel with way too many extraneous characters that I would still recommend as I looked forward to returning to it whenever I put it down. I enjoyed the author’s writing style and I would read other books written by her. I fluctuated with my rating as I did mostly enjoy reading it but I think the author needs to reduce the number of characters, make it a bit less peachy and a bit less predictable. 

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me an early release in exchange for an honest and fair review.
Was this review helpful?
McDowell's novel nudges the reader's subconscious until we get it: this is a retelling of Plato's Allegory of the Cave adapted to present times!  Set in Twenty-First Century Washington D.C., this novel chronicles the lives of the elite--adults and children.  The plot is chilling. The prose is exquisite.  This is a book to be savored and is going to last a long time.  It is not to be missed!
Was this review helpful?
‘This country is eroding…as we know it.” So says Meredith Bartholemew, one of the many entitled one percenters in The Cave Dwellers, a novel that is part mystery, part satire and part comedy of manners.

There are two conflicting sets of characters here. The first are the parents, members of Washington, D.C.’s high society who are wrapped up in their own self importance. Their world of secret societies, exclusive clubs and long dictated behaviors is disintegrating and none of them know how to handle it. Then there are their restless teenage children who have grown up in this world but want more. Breaking out of this life is more painful than they think. So they mitigate this pain with drugs and alcohol.

The novel begins with the  horrific triple torture and murder of the Banks family, friends to all. A young African-American man is quickly arrested. Bunny Bartholemew, a friend of the Banks’ daughter, becomes obsessed with the case, much to the horror of her mother. She realizes how her life of privilege sets her apart and tries, but in an insensitive way, to help. Her friends also see how trapped they are by wealth and how hard it will be to give that up.

As you follow these sometimes complicated, interwoven plots, you’ll see the dark undercurrents that make The Cave Dwellers a book to discuss. Race and privilege, political ambition, violent sexual behavior, workplace predators and abuse, both physical and emotional, all bubble under the surface.  Christina McDowell grew up in the Washington and knows her subject well. 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery Books and Christina McDowell for this ARC.
Was this review helpful?
This is a hard book to rate, and I would probably rank it closer to 3.5. I like what Christina McDowell tried to do in “The Cave Dwellers”, but there is just too much going on. There are way too many characters and subplots and it is often hard to keep them all straight and how everyone is “related”.  Also, there is no subtlety, McDowell hits the reader on the head with most of the issues that are prevalent in today’s society.  I did “enjoy” this book, if that is the right word, I mean I hated most of the characters, but I did enjoy what McDowell was trying to accomplish, but it just needed to be toned down. However, it is a quick read and it made me want to keep turning the pages.  I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the book as much if it didn’t take place in DC and I was familiar with all of the places.  However, I do think those that have enjoyed Curtis Sittenfeld and Kristin Gore’s novels then you will most likely like this one.
Was this review helpful?
Huge thanks to Netgalley for providing a free ARC.  This book delves into the social hierarchy of Washington DC privileged families, yet leaves a mark of recognition of that privilege.  The characters are all interesting and complex and for each family portrayed, there is a hidden truth.  The author throws in a social justice theme, which keeps the plot interesting and real.  The best scenes are between Bunny, Anthony, and his sister where Bunny learns that even the best intentions cannot save the world.  This was a great read.  Don’t finish the book until you read the author’s notes as it gives the book even more meaning.
Was this review helpful?
Old money. exclusive groups of friends, hostage, The Cave Dwellers. That’s all I can say without giving anymore away. Highly recommend this book! You will love it!

I just reviewed The Cave Dwellers by Christina McDowell. #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
A highly anticipated read this spring.The author spent her early years in Washington, D. C. ,so  “ knows of what she speaks”. A scathing, and frankly for me, depressing portrayal of politicos, narcissism, white privilege, jealousy, gossip, scandalous behavior, pathologic ambition, misogyny, and institutions and customs that while still existent, are long past their “ due date”. While it may be “ eye opening” to some, the more cynical reader ( me) will find it “ no surprise”.
I thought it a difficult read, in the sense that their are multiple multiple characters and at times difficult , at least for me, to follow. “Bunny” Bartholomew is the most empathetic,and rebellious, but even at 17-18 years of age seems trapped within the system. If nothing else, you will -post read-not be surprised by the problems our country has.
Was this review helpful?
The Cave Dwellers focuses on the elite of Washington, DC -- both the old families as well as the newer ones trying to break in.  As a former resident of the District, it was fun to recognize locations and familiar references, though these characters live in a different world than anyone I knew.  

They story begins with the horrific murder of an entire wealthy family and their maid.  Some characters go on with their lives as if the event is an unfortunate inconvenience to their sheltered lives.  For another, it is the catalyst for a wake-up call as to the reality of the haves and have nots in DC. However none of them really ever breaks out of their "cave".  The young woman who seems to be having a moment of enlightenment worries about an African American man who she thinks is unfairly jailed.  However, she quickly turns her attention to her lavish drug and booze filled 18th birthday party held at a historic mansion.  Overall, it was hard to have much sympathy for any of the characters.

Having said that, I enjoyed reading the story.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you, NetGalley, for this ARC. This review contains my own opinions and is unbiased.

I was immediately drawn in to this twisted tale of DC's elites. There are a lot of characters and it does take some concentration to keep them all straight as so many are quite similar archetypes. I had trouble keeping the wives/moms straight because they all read as very similar to me even though they were supposed to be different enough to have all sorts of petty conflicts with one another.

It was easy to see early on that the author had an agenda, that she wanted to explore issues of race and privilege in this exceptionally privileged and mostly hidden world. I think that this was mostly successful. It was painful to see some characters never have to deal with significant consequences for their behavior, but that is often the painful reality of the world of the elites.

[The one thing I was very disappointed about in this novel was the use of the Russian ambassador's family as villains. When it was discovered that they had leaked an embarrassing video and left town, it seemed like a cheap shot and a perpetuation of unproven media narratives.
Was this review helpful?
I recently finished Ladies of the House - a reimagining of Sense and Sensibility set in the world of DC politics - so when I saw The Cave Dwellers, I was immediately intrigued. I lived and worked in DC for a decade and find books set within its enclaves endlessly fascinating. Well, usually... Unfortunately, this one turned out to be a bit grittier and cruder than I anticipated, with less of the finesse and sophistication I expected given the blurb and premise. The characters and pacing just never grabbed me and I found myself surprisingly uninterested in how it would all play out. From the opening pages I struggled to find my way into the story and ultimately it just wasn't for me.
Was this review helpful?
Entertaining read peppered with facts about Washington, DC lore and history. A novel about the elite of the elite in DC, and their children, and what happens when some start to question their existence after the murder of a prominent family. We've got DC newcomers trying to gain entrance to an elite country club, children attending an elite prep school, senators and sex scandals, wealth and environmental disaster. The existential question of elite existence is writ large through Bunny, an 18 year old daughter of an elite family. Bunny questions everything - her family history and legacy, racism and white supremacy, while trying to figure out how, or even IF, she can escape her history and make it better.

"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.

They’re called The Cave Dwellers."

Thanks to NetGalley for the free ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
The subject matter sounded compelling; the title was intriguing; and, the book let me down.  I felt that the topic demanded more subtlety and sophistication in its execution.  I think I needed more nuance and less “ black and white,”

I desperately wanted to enjoy this book. . . Or, be challenged in some way, but I was disappointed from beginning to end.

NetGalley provided me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a candid review.
Was this review helpful?
This novel has the over-the-top absurd privilege of Crazy Rich Asians but without the humor. This book was ALMOST spot on in many ways, but just didn’t hit the mark for me. I needed a sympathetic character or satisfaction from a plot resolved that just didn’t happen.
Was this review helpful?
There is a particular kind of crazy to want to be in both the politics of government as well as the politics of inclusive wealth cliques. They are vicious and relentless, regardless of how well dressed. 
Shifting landscapes, shifting loyalties, shifting recollection of facts leads to all sorts of misery. 
This is fun, if painful to see some of the worst of human behavior that is not all that rare.
Was this review helpful?
This is such a good book and was like a trip to old home week for me. It gave me a chance to revisit so many familiar places from long ago. Times have changed in many ways but it was apparent from the reading of this book that Washington and it’s social structure remains fundamentally the same. The intertwined groups of media, military, and political are as unchanged as they were many years ago when you might pass David Brinkley walking through People’s drugstore at Friendship Heights. The author has captured the place from her position as insider so well with her perspective of the fancy schools and pressures on the privileged and sometimes hapless offspring of the moneyed and powerful. I now am looking forward to reading the author’s memoir!
Was this review helpful?
I was given the opportunity to read and review this book through Net Galley and I am so glad! The story sucked you in and you'll find yourself thinking about the characters long after you finish the book. Can't wait to read more by this author!!
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this multi-family story with an overlay of Washington D.C. political drama. Many of the elements feel especially timely now. There are a lot of different characters involved, but I bookmarked the guide at the beginning explaining who’s who, and was able to refer back to it to refresh my memory. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I'm torn in how I feel about this book. In one hand, it's a poignant novel exposing the lives of politicos in DC and their salacious exploits. On the other hand, it doesn't feel as if it does enough to serve as a cautionary tale. While white privilege is explored, not much of anything comes out of it and no comeuppance is dealt. At the end I'm left with so many loose threads in the storyline that I'm unsure if this was intentional by the author. However this is a compulsively readable novel that would be perfect for fans of Scandal, just beware of hanging chads.

*Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.*
Was this review helpful?
So this book just hit different especially now. It talks about the Washington elite and the hold they have over power and decisions. And honestly with all that is happening it is like watching this book come to life every day.
Was this review helpful?