Member Reviews

What a stressful book! Alex is a young woman who's "the guest" of an older man at his home on the east end of Long Island. As the story begins, he's a very generous partner, bestowing expensive clothing and jewelry gifts, but summarily dismisses her one day with empty promises and a train ticket back to Manhattan. And the real stress begins!
Ms. Cline takes us into the world of the rich and famous and I loved her descriptive language. Alex is cringey and unlikable most of the time, but after the book ended, I still wanted to know what happened next for her. The book fell a little short for me without more of Alex's backstory, but it was overall a quick and compulsive read!
Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for the opportunity to read The Guest in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Alex lives life on the edge - she's constantly fine tuning herself to appropriate to her current situation and person that she's around to better navigate herself through her days. She does have habits that can render this impossible and it gets her into a bit of trouble that means constantly wondering where she'll be able to go to next all the while attempting to avoid troubles from her past.

Was this review helpful?

Alex is an expert at the rules of high society. She knows how to blend in to get what she needs. But at the end of the summer, she’s overstayed her welcome and must leave the home of the older man she’s been staying with. With no money, resources, or place to stay, Alex drifts from person to person, grasping for anyone she can tether herself to. We watch her navigate a society she’s only pretending to belong in as she begins to self-destruct.

Though the prose is compelling, I did not feel that Alex’s character was developed enough for me to care about the outcome. I did not need to like Alex as a character, but I did not know enough about her to feel more than apathy. The mood of the novel is strong—a building sense of chaos and stress—but there is very little plot, and there is not a real payoff at the end of the story. We wait for something cataclysmic to happen, but ultimately nothing does. The story was lacking the specificity that would have made it compelling for me.

Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks for the ARC Netgalley! Wow. This book has consumed my headspace for almost every waking hour since I finished it. I enjoyed chatting about it (especially the ending) with pals. This book is not for everyone and will be extremely polarizing, but its lasting impression on me cannot be construed as anything other than worth reading.

Alex is a 22 year old sex worker from NYC who has lucked into a magical summer with a much older man named Simon in the Hamptons. Alex is the arm candy he wants while she gets a life of luxury - that is, until she messes up and Simon is done with her. Alex has nowhere to go and is determined to stay afloat on Long Island until Simon’s Labor Day party - after all, it’s just 5 days away. The reader is along for the ride as Alex flits in and out of people’s lives when it’s convenient for her.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a more unlikeable MC. There is nothing redeeming about her at all and the way she treats human beings as being disposable causalities is appalling. My anxiety was so heightened with each poor decision Alex made, yet I couldn’t look away. It was like watching a car crash happen. The way Cline lets the tension build and build and BUILD is masterful. The ending is open to interpretation, which initially bothered me but now I’m kind of obsessed with talking about it. I did want a bit more from this though: more of a backstory from Alex and other characters’ pasts, which is what’s keeping me from rating it 5⭐️s.

If you liked the show “White Lotus” which was also filled with tension and consequences for the wealthy, I think you’ll find this one worth checking out.

✨Trigger Warnings: Drug Use, Adult/Minor Relationship, Sexual Assault, Mental Illness

Was this review helpful?

Alex , a young woman with a troubled past, has been living with an older wealthy man for the summer. After several mishaps, the gentleman kindly tells her to go back to the city. Alex thinks she can survive on the island for just a week and then things will be better between them. She is the guest at several homes, beach parties and social clubs. Will she be able to make it back to the life she had or will she constantly be a guest. Thanks to Net galley for the advance e-book.

Was this review helpful?

Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me. I’ve read and enjoyed other Emma Cline books, but this one didn’t have much plot. It consisted of Alex grifting from various people while avoiding a confrontation with another man from who she stole money.
I felt sad for her. 2.5 stars.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed as in this review are completely my own.

Was this review helpful?

There was just something about Alex’s trainwreck of a life propelled me to keep reading. Like The Girls, The Guest is unique and intriguing and I just could not understand the MC but something about her made me interested in her story. This book was intelligent and unconventional. It's impossible to stop following her as she self-sabotages and tries to find a way out.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book so much!!! It was eerie, unsettling, funny, and anxiety inducing and I truly loved every minute of it. Something about spending time with someone in a story drifting from place to place, meeting and manipulating people and watching the trouble they get themselves into is so thrilling! The ending had my jaw on the floor, I barely blinked for the entire last chapter, not wanting to miss a thing - I actually re-read the last page a couple times to try to wrap my head around what the heck happened. Highly recommend and will add this to my favourites of the year! Thanks to the publisher for my gifted copies!

Was this review helpful?

I was so excited to have been given a galley of an Emma Cline book so thank you to Net Galley and the publishers. This has been described as the summer book of the year. I enjoyed it, it felt smothering like the heat, I was anxious for our main character as she bounces from person to person. I still don’t know how I feel about the book as a whole but I’ve enjoyed others reviews and dissections.

Was this review helpful?

Overall, I thought this story was very compelling and well-written, although some of the execution fell flat to me. Alex was a fun protagonist to follow, with her making some interesting decisions, but I found myself rooting from her despite her sometimes unlikability, which I think shows the author's master of her craft.

The plot was a bit aimless, although I definitely understand why, and while it sometimes felt like it it played into the plot, it for the most part made reading this book feel a bit like a chore.

I was a bit underwhelmed by the ending, but overall, I found this to be a chaotic read (but in a good way!)

3.5 stars rounded down.

Was this review helpful?

Emma Cline is a genius of a writer, and page by page, line by line, this was an incredible book. But wow, it was hard to feel connected to the nihilistic narrator as she self-destructs - and burns down everyone around her - over the course of the book. It was like watching a slow-motion car crash where you know exactly what the outcome is going to be and that... was not very fun. Light on story, big on emotional carnage. Still, definitely worth reading.

Was this review helpful?

Expected to enjoy this title, but found the plot and characters to be stressful, slow, and superficial.

Was this review helpful?

So, sometimes you read a book and finish it more confused than satisfied. And sometimes that is ok as was my experience with Emma Cline's The Guest. Though set in the expensive playground of the one percenters (AKA The Hamptons), The Guest is the anti-beach read. In a good way.

Our protagonist is Alex, a 22-year-old sex worker who was shown the door by her latest rich boyfriend because of an unfortunate incident at a socialite's house. He has his assistant drive her to the train station to go back to The City, but bad things are awaiting her in the city. So she finds herself in survival mode in The Hamptons, inserting herself into the lives of rich people, adopting fake personas. She's observed the rich in their playgrounds and knows how to shape shift herself into being one of them.

Or so she thinks, as half of the book she is intoxicated on booze, pills, off brand coke, and whatever else. Is she Alice falling in the rabbit hole? Is she Odysseus on a voyage? Is she the dude traipsing around grocery stores in a robe, swigging from cartons of half and half?

I still don't know what I think of this book, but it kept my attention the entire time. Thank you Random House and NetGalley for the ARC for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

I have read all this authors work and I’ve come to believe that she’s just not for me. This was another story that just was creepy and did not hold my interest.

Was this review helpful?

Having read and enjoyed The Girls, I can safely say that Emma Cline is now one of my favorite authors.

I found myself completely immersed in the narrative and always concerned for our main character, Alex, as she drifts and struggles to get through each day among the privileged. She latches onto a coping mechanism of always expecting a positive outcome even though every situation she lands herself in goes terribly wrong. I was entranced, anxious, always waiting for the worst.

Again, Emma Cline is truly a remarkable writer and I would highly recommend this novel.

Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

If you are vacationing in the Hamptons this summer, this is the book for you.
Cline has conjured up a story that captures the ambiance and climate of the posh environs of New York's Long Island. It's easy to identify the places mentioned in the book and fun to guess the locations described.
Assuming you're not familiar with the setting, the focus of the plot will keep you interested. It's an intense character study of Alex, alone and pitiful, whose hook-ups with an older man leads to a devastating conclusion. The people she meets along the way evoke pity and contempt simultaneously and the sordid life she continues to lead is a sorry one.
The open-ended conclusion is a mystifying one that will keep you thinking about the story long after it has ended.

Was this review helpful?

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗺 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗹𝗼𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗽𝗼𝘁𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆.

Some are born to wealth and ease, the finer things in life, others work hard to attain it and then there are people like Alex who scheme their way there. Lately, it isn’t so easy to use her youth and beauty, though she is only 22, to live the high life. The places and men she runs through have left her with dwindling prospects, she has even been warned from returning to certain bars, clubs. After spending time with Dom, indulging in drugs and trash tv, she leaves, and we know she has ‘made a mistake’ something that has him swing from the frustration of her not responding to his texts to wild aggression. What has she done? Her roommates have zero compassion for her, don’t even talk to her anymore, have gone so far as to empty out the medicine cabinets. She needs an escape out of the city, she can’t keep putting Dom off. She thinks she sees him lurking outside, but she never gave him her address. One night she meets Simon, he might be the solution to all her problems, for now.

Simon is different from her usual catch, but he just may offer her protection that she desperately needs. August comes around, their dates have gone smoothly with her keeping him from her usual haunts, and he invites Alex to his house out east, just in time for his Labor Day party. She says so long to her outstanding back rent, former roommates, cheap living and Dom. She will simply vanish and he won’t know where to find her and tire of searching.

Simon is well into his fifties but in good shape for his age, she weaves herself into his life, something she is practiced at. If he is a bit severe, overly structured in his ways, she doesn’t care. He lives near the ocean has a big house, just the creature comforts she hungers for. When they aren’t at dinners and garden parties with the wealthy, Alex spends her time relaxing in his pool or on the beach. And if she takes a few of his painkillers and drinks during the lull of her days it doesn’t matter, she is on her very best behavior and this thing she has with Simon could last if she keeps her wits about her. So what if he doesn’t know the real her, let the history stay buried, it’s better to be someone else.

It doesn’t last. She is soon sent packing back to the city, Simon isn’t quite the fool she had him pegged to be but she can’t go back there instead, she uses her skills and clings first to a group of twenty-something-year-olds arriving for vacation, pretending to be one of them. She is so good at performing, knowing just what people desire and uses that to her advantage. She hustles and lies; she is a quick study working strangers from any angle she can find but her troubles are catching up with her and new ones are born out of her ineptitude. She crosses the line often, but it is when she meets Jack that she is in over her head.

Alex is morally repulsive, the sort who has used up all her chances with friends (if she can even consider them friends) and will still come back begging for more. It’s nothing for her to root through your things and take what she desires, your partner, your family, your car, your money… If only she would take that passion and talent she has for scheming and channel it into growing up, because let’s face it, her youth won’t last forever. Most people know an Alex or two, I imagine. A solid read.

Published May 16, 2023

Random House

Was this review helpful?

This book is at the exact intersection of literary intrigue and beach thriller, a tense, propulsive read that I finished in under 24 hours. It reminded me of watching "Uncut Gems"—that kind of teetering anxiety watching a character make bad decision after bad decision and barely getting away with it. It follows Alex, a woman in her early 20s who leaves a wake of burned bridges behind her wherever she goes. She scams her way into the rarefied world of the Hamptons and then, after her host/boyfriend kicks her out, scrambles to avoid a vengeful scam victim and find enough sustenance and shelter to stay in the Hamptons until she can return to her ex's Labor Day bash. I enjoyed it tremendously, even if I think Cline didn't quite stick the landing.

Was this review helpful?

In "The Guest" by Emma Cline, the end of summer on Long Island sees Alex rejected and adrift. With her ability to sense others' desires, she navigates a world of privilege, exposing its shallowness. The sharp, observant narration reflects society's judgment of her, while the characters she encounters mirror their own superficiality.

Cline's writing is compelling and immersive, leaving readers yearning for a concrete resolution. While a less vague ending would have been preferred, this yearning is a testament to the captivating character development and storytelling. "The Guest" is a thought-provoking exploration of privilege and prejudice, inviting readers to reflect on their own biases.

Was this review helpful?

I love the way Emma Cline writes her characters - they are all so palpable, by the end it feels like I personally know them. That is a unique talent, and makes the book incredibly rich and wonderful to read.

Was this review helpful?