Cover Image: The Guest

The Guest

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Member Reviews

Thank you for the advanced copy of this book! I will be posting my review on social media, to include Instagram, Amazon, Goodreads, and Instagram!

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I was relieved to discover that Emma Cline hasn't lost her touch; indeed, The Guest may even be better than The Girls, full of trademark Emma Cline tension and stunning character development.

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I loved The Girls, but unfortunately The Guest fell flat for me. I feel like nothing really happened? Thank goodness it was short!

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If the purpose of The Guest was to make the reader uncomfortable and biting fingernails down to the quicks, then this book was successful. However, it truly was NOT a enjoyable book. The main character was an "escort" although I do not think that it was stated and even though Alex is very good at drifting through and taking advantage of all those around her, she certainly is not a likeable character. However, most of those around her are not such wonderful people either, so I guess it is kind of a wash. If the reader wants a nice tidy ending (or even an ending at all), it is not found in this book. I really wanted some kind of conclusion and I did not find it on the last page of this story.

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22-year-old Alex has nowhere to go after she is kicked out of the home of Simon, the older man she has been staying with in the Hamptons. Alex is behind on rent, despised by her roommates back in New York, and owes money to a man who we can only assume is dangerous. In light of all this plus a heavy dose of delusion, Alex resolves to stay in the Hamptons until Simon’s Labor Day party where she is convinced he will take her back if he is just given space for a few days. The novel unfolds over the course of these few days, as Alex flits from one temporary situation to the other. In one scene, Alex inserts herself into a house share, pretending to be friends with one of the people who hasn’t yet arrived. After they realize no one actually knows her, Alex sneaks her way into a beach club pretending to be a child’s nanny and takes advantage of the child’s family’s limitless tab at the snack bar. She spends one night in the guest house of one of Simon’s friends who isn’t home, another night sleeping on the dunes. In each of these scenarios Alex effortless shape-shifts and morphs to meet the needs of those around her in this rarefied world of money and exclusivity.

The Guest is more than just some beach read with a party girl whose life has gone awry. Instead, Cline has written both a biting commentary on a slice of society as well as a fascinating character study of someone who recognizes early on that to survive, “only her presence was required, the general size and shape of a young woman.”

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Thank you for allowing me to read this book. I enjoyed the characters and their arcs, and found the plot interesting. I look forward to reading more from this author.

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I adore Emma Cline and have enjoyed all of her previous writings. I've tried to get into this one, but I see I'm going to have to try to pick it up another time. I DNF'ed at 25%. Thank you again for the opportunity to read this!

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I don’t think I would have finished this book if I’d known how little payoff we got in the end. Instead of more being revealed throughout the book, we actually became more disoriented and ended up not even knowing if anything we believed was true. I get enough of that in real life, tyvm.

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I love Emma Cline and this book is her at her best.

"Cline's narration is purposefully stifling, a suffocating and eternal present tense that offers no room for Alex to find respite." - more at the link for Heavy Feather Review

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I read this a long time back but didn't feel ready to review it. Since then I read it for my book club and engaged in a thoughtful discussion about it. It was in the Tournament of Books, where it received much praise and equal criticism. I think that the inherent awfulness of the central character is both necessary to the story and the strength of it- she is motivated by unknown reasoning. This is a slice of her life, the moment when she has likely truly hit bottom. The novel does not cringe away from how awful she is, her horrific choices- but it also is unflinching in its depiction of the wealthy she targets. The plot is secondary to the character studies here and although I'm not sure in the end it worked perfectly for me, I think this was bold and searing and an eminently worthwhile read.

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This didn’t always work, but it’s something I’ll be thinking about long after reading. It’s unsettling and addictive, but did not ultimately pay off with a big ending which would have been helpful overall.

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This was an interesting book by an author I’ve kept my eye on since her incredible debut. Even bought a paperback copy of this since I liked it so much!

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"The Guest" by Emma Cline creates a rambling story of Alex, a twenty-something girl--yes, I mean girl--who drifts from situation to situation with little planning. The novel is set in Long Island at the end of summer, and Alex has been asked to leave her gentleman friend's house after Alex's inappropriate behavior at a dinner party. She figures that Simon, her friend, will "get over it" by the time Labor Day comes around, and he throws his epic end-of-summer party. All Alex needs to do is find someone to take her for 5 days. Oh by the way, her phone is not working (allowing her to avoid the mysterious Dom's texts/calls), she doesn't have a car, she doesn't have money, and she doesn't have a home in which to return. Her plan: wander to the beach and hope to meet someone who "falls" for her. She meets a few "suckers" but her plan takes a lot of turns because of her bad decisions.

Alex clearly is out of her depth with this segment of society. She, essentially, is a poser--posing as wealthy, posing as educated, posing as invested in relationships. I wouldn't say that she is a prostitute but it is suggested. Although the things that she does are quite careless and despicable, Cline creates a compelling story. The reader wants to see what Alex will do next and if she can get out of her bind. There is also the sense that Alex is a victim and has been treated poorly, although this is not spelled out completely. The ending is abrupt and feels unfinished. It is an entertaining read but not a deep read. Unfortunately, I am not able to recommend this book to my students due to some of the content.

I would like to thank Emma Cline, Random House, and NetGalley for the ARC.

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I can’t say I really enjoyed The Guest, but it definitely did capture my attention - I read it super quickly because I was very curious about how things would shake out for our problematic protagonist, Alex.

I love stories about slightly unhinged women making questionable choices, but ultimately there are just better books than this one if you’re trying to scratch that itch. While a lot of things happen throughout the story, I never felt like I understood Alex in the slightest. There was an opportunity to create a really rich, intriguing character - but instead, we’re given more of a shell. I had a similar issue with Emma Cline’s first novel, The Girls. The ideas are all there, the writing is really nice, but there’s a lack in terms of characterization that just doesn’t work for me. Emphasizing for me! I don’t think this is a bad book at all, just not one that worked for my particular reading needs.

I am grateful to the publisher for the eARC, and I like Cline’s writing style enough to probably continue reading her books in the future.

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Was not a big fan of this book, it was too slow and the characters were very in depth. The plot was okay but overall I was slightly disappointed by this book especially with how much I enjoyed The Girls. I probably wouldn't read this again.

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If you enjoy the layered ambiguity of The White Lotus, the wild ride of The Menu and/or a literary fiction unreliable narrator, you may very well love this book.

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I was in a chokehold by this book from beginning to the end. 22 year old Alex is a detached character making one bad decision after another. She's essentially an unemployed grifter mooching off of older wealthy men that she regularly steals from. This habit has gotten her in a sticky situation. She plans to make amends with her most recent target, Simon, at his Labor Day party, but has to find a way to stay afloat with no money until then. She acts impulsively without considering the consequences for herself or others. It made me feel so uncomfortable how she pushes people's boundaries, crossing lines over and over again, never really taking responsibility for her actions. I wanted her to be rescued and punished for her often thoughtless actions at the same time, and I thought it was so interesting to feel that way about a character. To feel contempt and sympathy at the same time. This was more captivating in my opinion than her previous novel, The Girls. I loved it and bought a physical copy for my own shelf.

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"The Guest" by Emma Cline is a captivating and atmospheric novel that delves into themes of longing, memory, and the complexities of human connection. Cline's evocative prose and vivid imagery draw readers into the protagonist's world, creating a sense of intimacy and introspection. With its haunting beauty and subtle emotional depth, "The Guest" is a powerful exploration of the human experience in all its fragility and wonder.

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I hear a lot about Emma Cline, and this was my first book by her. I love a flawed character, and Alex is one that is both infuriating and relatable, personifying the phrase "living day to day" with a sense of boredom and delusion that made me question my own relation to it. Wonderfully written, and the cover is striking and gorgeous. Excited to read more of Emma Cline's work!

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Taut, and built on a foundation of unease and deception. This is a fascinating and well written character study of a novel, but it is emotionally brutal. I thought this would be a variation on "Breakfast at Tiffany's", (the book, not the tinselly Audrey Hepburn film), but it turned out to be even darker, sadder, more melancholy and hopeless, and less forgiving of any of the characters. Who do you root for when neither the hunter nor the prey deserves sympathy, and who do you root for when it eventually becomes less and less clear who is the hunter and who is the prey? How do you combine grift and love, desire and desperation, security and menace, neediness and independence, in one barely adult lost character? Well, this book will run you, (and its heroine), through the wringer while you try to find out.

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