Cover Image: Man's Best Friend

Man's Best Friend

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Member Reviews

This was okay. I never felt too invested in any of the characters, though. I love an unlikeable character but they have to be fun or have some depth. None of these did.

I’m genuinely upset that we got no explanation (or I completely missed one) about the significance of the dog theme. I get there were dogs present during significant scenes but like…..explain, please 😂

I love a good revenge story so the ending made me happy. Kind of. Idk, El was pretty off-putting. I’m so conflicted, clearly.

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Tell me a book is a thriller and I am there. Unfortunately, this was not a thriller, nor could I get into this book.
El had a short taste of being liked by two rich girls in middle school and now the rest of her life is built on being rich and deserving to be rich. She dreams of meeting a rich and handsome man and falling in love and marrying him. Even the falling in love is not a necessity. Who she does meet is a somewhat unattractive man, but he does seem to have the rich part, so one seems enough to placate her. I found the partying, drinking and drugging tedious and uninteresting to me. I unfortunately gave up on reading before finishing and thus never did find the ‘thriller’ I was seeking. Thank you Netgalley and G P Putnam for the arc. This may well be a book others will enjoy, but not for me.

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Thank you for the opportunity to read and review this book ahead of publication! My review will appear on my blog on (5/7/24). I will also feature the review on Instagram that same day and post my review to Goodreads, The Storygraph, Fable, and retail sites.

Review:

Last year, I read "The Guest" by Emma Cline and loved it. At the same time, many people hated it and felt that it meandered far too long and eventually went nowhere. I have a feeling that this book will be just as polarizing this year, and I hate to say it, but as much as I wanted to like this book, I'm going to be on the "what was this all for?" side of things.

The book focuses on El, a young 20-something who comes from a broken home. Since junior high, it's been El and her mother after her dad left her for the secret other family he'd been hiding from them. While in middle school, El befriends Julia and Anna, two rich, popular girls who take her under their wing and make someone out of El - or at least until middle school ends and Julia and Anna go to a private high school while EL goes to a performing arts high school. The three remained close, but as years passed, Anna moved on, and El and Julia rarely saw each other.

At the top of the novel, EL is working at a bakery and has finally decided to give up on her dream of becoming a famous actress. She's unsure of where her life is taking her, and when Julia invites her to a weekend at The Hamptons to celebrate Julia's birthday, she decides to leave her worries behind and have a little fun. A weekend with rich friends who have no cares in the world is just what EL needs. She can at least pretend she's one of them for a few days.

While there, El loses her wallet, and a man she briefly remembers from the party messages her on Facebook letting her know he found it. He lives in the city, and El agrees to meet him for drinks. Bryce (the dude) isn't exactly handsome, but he's super rich, and he seems smitten with El, so she agrees, and it's not long before the two are dating. El always saw herself becoming rich and famous with a gorgeous man by her side. She may be willing to give up the gorgeous man and fame if it means she could be financially free. What's wrong with being a kept woman? But then she learns something about Bryce that shakes her - he may not be the awkward, doting man she thought he was. But he's rich and gives El whatever she wants - maybe she can use this to her advantage?

The relationship between El and Bryce is at the heart of the story, and it is a twisted and compelling dynamic, but it doesn't build up to the suspenseful climax it could have. With his aura of wealth and privilege, Bryce exerts a magnetic pull on El, drawing her into his world of deceit and manipulation. As the layers of Bryce's true nature are peeled back, the reader is left questioning everything they thought they knew about him and about El herself. When El learned his secret, I felt for sure the book would (finally) move in a direction that would make me invested in her journey, but then El did what El did, and I was back to hating her.

One of the things that drew me to this book was that it sounded like it was going to be a thriller - in my opinion, it wasn't. It's nothing more than a story about a woman in her 30s who feels entitled and is pissed that she never became rich and famous. She had several chances to redeem herself along the way but refused to care about anyone or anything other than herself and what she felt she deserved. I felt zero connection to her and absolutely zero empathy. I also didn't care about Bryce or any other characters, and it's really difficult for me to enjoy a book when I don't care about anyone in it.

While some may find morally grey characters and unsettling themes off-putting, I typically love them (provided I can empathize with or see some humanity in one of the MCs). Lytle's unflinching exploration of power, wealth, and the lengths people will go to obtain them is both gripping and thought-provoking but gets lost in a plot that is almost as shallow as its characters. I mentioned Emma Cline's "The Guest" earlier, which had a somewhat similar protagonist, but the difference between that book and this one is that despite all of the crap that Alex (the protagonist in that book) did, I felt empathy toward her. She was messed up and made some horrible choices, but I still wanted her to be okay. Had El shown any sort of empathy for anyone other than herself, I may have liked this one more.

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I enjoyed this book! Not a ton happens, but the prose was pleasant and I have a massive appreciation for unlikeable but well-written FMCs. My only gripe is the dog POV chapters/moments in the story. I think the book would be better without the dog POV chapters because it was a bit confusing and removed me from the main story. And as far as the dog bits in the main story, I wish they were either expanded upon to make the story more ominous and subliminally suggest the main point, or left out entirely because the point is made in the end: El is no longer a docile, inferior pet to be used, discarded and called upon at the convenience of others.

I would absolutely read future books from this author.

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I wanted to like this book more than I did. I ended up understanding the link between El and dogs; but found it to be tenuous at best when referenced throughout the book. It felt like there should have been more of answer on why all these dogs were supposedly running away to take back their lives but it never manifested itself. El was a very unlikeable person and I was not rooting her. Truly, I don't think there was a single character that I WAS rooting for or thought of fondly. I was interested to see how she would progress but she just ended up being a worse person. The NYC setting felt very realistic to me, so kudos on the realism (as someone who has only ever visited and never lived there). This book was and is hard to pinhole into one genre for me. It read like fiction sometimes, then switched to a thriller, and then almost a detective whodunit. The pacing and the subject matter kept me reading and guessing so by the end I couldn't see whether she was headed towards a future with Bryce or if he'd end up caught. All I can say is, they deserve each other.

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This literary work may be classified as a work of literary fiction, however, it has been marketed as "irresistibly suspenseful". Regrettably, it does not live up to this claim. While it may satisfy those seeking a straightforward work of literary fiction, it falls short for those anticipating a thrilling read. The story lacks depth and fails to capture my attention. Ultimately, I completed the novel with reluctance and cannot recommend it.

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Man’s Best Friend by Alana B. Lytle follows El, a failed actress who has had a taste of the rich life and has been chasing that high ever since. With two rich friends, she feels like an outsider. She eventually meets Bryce, a trust fund baby who just may be her ticket to a better life. But Bryce has secrets of his own that may be darker than El imagined.

If you go into this wanting a literary book with some thriller elements, I feel like you would enjoy this book. It’s pretty slow moving and the main character isn’t particularly likeable so it’s hard to feel attached to the story.

I feel like I enjoyed this well enough. After seeing it compared to The Talented Mr. Ripley, I was expecting a bit more twists and turns. This book ended up going in a way I wasn’t expecting. I think I would recommend this book to a few people but not a ton. I think the people that really love slower moving literary thrillers will enjoy this one.

I would check out more from this author because while this book is slow, I never felt like I was having a bad time or anything. The writing style was something that I really enjoyed. So I think my expectations for this story were a little high but I still had a good time.

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Unfortunately this just didn't work for me -- slow paced, uneven tone, unlikable characters. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity.

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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

El is someone who doesn't put forth much effort in anything. She is willing to put herself in precarious situations to get her needs met, and honestly doesn't seem to care much about anyone else. Also true is that she associates with others who habe limited capacity for connection as well. Meanwhile, mysterious deaths occur and not much effort is put into solving them.

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This is a thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. The characters are intriguing, and the plot itself is such an edge of the seat type of situation that you are breathless from start to finish of this book.

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I did enjoy reading this book. It kept me interested until the end. The beginning is a bit mellow and the thriller aspect doesn't come in until a little more than half way through the book. If you're looking for more thrilling aspects, then this may not be the book for you. El was quite an unlikeable narrator, but so were many of the other characters in the book. It was fun to watch her motives and morals change in order to achieve the life she always wanted for herself. Definitely give it a read!

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A woman of modest means is impacted for life by attending an elite school for one year in 8th grade. Surrounded by wealth and privilege, El feels less than and spends most of the ensuing years trying to capture what the moneyed kids had.
When many years in the future El is maybe stalked by a wall street whiz, she puts her personal ethics aside to accept everything he's willing to give or provide for her. Even the mounting evidence of perhaps evil doing on the part of her provider isn't enough for El to turn away from her new status.
El was mostly unlikeable but I did enjoy her owning her true self in the end.
What didn't work for me was the dogs behaving badly intermittently throughout which was surely meant to convey something but alas, it confused the story for me.

Thank you to G.P. Putnam's Sons and Netgalley for an early e-copy. All opinions are my own.

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Slow burning suspense

The first chapter was enticing enough to keep me reading, although it felt detached from the rest of the novel. The first half of the book was slower paced, introducing a cast of privileged people partying and hooking up. El, the protagonist met them in school where she attended on a scholarship and always felt like the odd one out. I went into this one blind and when I double checked the genre, the pace made sense. I don’t read as much general / literary fiction since it’s usually slower, however the murder in the middle sped it up. When El finds out an old friend of hers has been found murdered, she’s devastated and immediately starts investigating. A few coincidences cause her to suspect Bryce, her fiancé. A lot was crammed into the second half, and in the end, both El’s and Bryce’s decisions became foggy once all the secrets were out.

I didn’t love the characters and felt their choices to be unrealistic, especially El’s, just so she could live a life of luxury. The mention of dogs and their erratic behavior felt disconnected, like the first chapter, and I wasn’t sure how it fit with the characters or storyline. The themes of rags to riches and complex relationships were clearly expressed, but the ending fell flat for me.

3/5⭐️⭐️⭐️
For readers who enjoy a slower pace, characters with dark motives, and complex relationships.

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Thank you, GP Putnam's Sons and NetGalley, for the advanced copy of Man's Best Friend.

This novel was okay. It is classified as literary fiction but is touted as "irresistibly suspenseful". It is not. If you go into this looking for just literary fiction, it's a decent novel. If you go into this looking for a thriller, prepare to be disappointed. The story just fell flat. It didn't keep my interest. I finished the novel reluctantly, but it is not one that I would recommend.

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*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc in exchange for my honest review*

A little uneven for my taste - one minute it was dark and twisty - the next light hearted.

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Thank you to G.P. Putnam's Sons & NetGalley for this book.

I really tried to get into this book, but it just wasn't for me.

I did finish reading, but it was a struggle to stay focused

It just did not hold my interest.

I found the characters, plot, and descriptions fell flat.

Sadly can not recommend it.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. I love a Talented Mr. Ripley type story, and obsession is one of my favorite themes in literature. Unfortunately, I didn't really enjoy this story, and found it to be lacking. The plot simply wasn't compelling enough to carry an entire book. However, I did still somewhat enjoy it, and would be interested to read more from the author in the future.

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Man's Best Friend by Alana B. Lytle is a great story! It had me hooked from beginning to end. I will read more from the author in the future.

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Several other readers have complained that El, the protagonist/narrator of "Man's Best Friend" is unlikable. I didn't find that to be the case. I'm not saying I'd want to be her bestie, but she's no more or less moral or ethical than many of us... at least until the denouement. The finale, and pretzel logic involved, tainted the book for me. Ditto the extremely forced canine metaphors. Which is a shame, because author Alana B. Lytle excels at depicting a specific slice of New York: that of post-college adults realizing that they're now too old to become wunderkinds, that they can no longer afford their fantasies unless they make some hard, and harsh, decisions.

Thank you, G.P. Putnam's Sons and NetGalley, for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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In the book Man’s Best Friend we meet El who for most of her life was in aspiring actor she obsesses over everything and her main obsession is her eighth grade year at a private school where she meets Juliana and Anna. Both girls are from very Uber rich families and she considers herself a poor man’s Anna because they look so similar when out of the blue she is a invited to Giuliana‘s 30th birthday party at her Southampton home ,she despite working at a bakery and living paycheck to paycheck cannot resist the pull of the rich life and decides to go. This is where she will first meet Brice He works in finance and is also Uber Rich and despite else not being attracted to him she is attracted to the life he could give her and so decides to date him soon they’re living together it will be when he takes her to Paris where her friend Anna is now living that the mystery will begin because before they leave Paris Anna will have been murdered and although it effects L she doesn’t see Anna‘s death as the mystery it is until much later. If you notice I haven’t mentioned man’s best friend or a dog at all that’s because it was barely even a subplot and it is only a subplot in that it is mentioned in passing another words they mention someone was walking a dog or… L looks out the window and sees a dog barking at a man only in the beginning do we hear from a dog and her contemplation of leaving her master the rest is unlikable L her unlikable friends especially Emma Who especially after her big reveal I didn’t like. Usually when they have such an unlikable protagonist in the book I do not like the book either but the author has such a fresh and talented writing style I found myself not wanting to put the book down and read it all in one go. I know from a lot of reviews people didn’t like L and I myself as I said don’t like her either but they were many things she thought and choices she made but I totally understood where she was coming from. I was sad the book wasn’t about the dog but there’s lots of dog books I can go read to satisfy that itch, as far as mysteries and thrillers go this was a really good one I want to think penguin group Putnam and net Gali for my free arc copy please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.

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