The Guest List by Lucy Foley | Book Review

★★☆☆☆
July 1st – 2nd

We all know that I love a good thriller. I like mysteries with compelling characters, a well-put together plot, and an interesting setting. I like when the reader has all of the pieces in front of them and they aren’t reliant on external information to solve what’s going on. I also love gothic settings. I love the isolation and distance. This had a lot of those elements and I was so excited to read it, but the execution was not for me.

This review will have spoilers.

To start, I think this book had too many perspectives. We were following multiple characters getting ready for a wedding on an island off the coast of Ireland. The bride, the maid of honor, the best man, the plus one, and the wedding planner. Five perspectives is way too many in most settings, but definitely a thriller.

Clocking in at just over 300 pages, trying to fill in the backstory of five separate people with all of their personality feels like a tremendous task, and as a result, I really think the writing of this one suffered. I was not a fan of how much the characters were telling me about themselves, but with so little time to explain anything, I don’t know that there really was an alternative other than making it significantly longer.

In addition to the five character perspectives which take place starting the day before the wedding, the book adds a sixth element where it jumps to the present. These pieces in the present I found to do absolutely nothing. I believe the intention was to add tension, but they were so infrequent and had cliffhangers so insignificant that it took away from the plot and general pacing of the book. One of the cliffhangers was what was in a character’s hand, and 50 or so pages later we find out that it was a flashlight. This was exceptionally frustrating to me, because it felt like an attempt at tension for the sake of tension.

The entire book takes place on the island, which I really enjoyed, and there was one or two characters that really stood out as being interesting. If the whole book was from the perspective of the plus one, I think I really would have liked it. She was a flawed character who was recognizing holes in her marriage and difficulties she was having with it. She was the only one who saw growth as a character, and she did her best to help other characters grow.

A lot of the complaints I saw from other reviewers talked about how predictable it was, and while I agree, that’s not typically a problem I have with thrillers. I tend to enjoy the ride more than the ending, but in this case I did not enjoy the ride. With each of these characters we come to find out how they’re all connected to the groom, be it from a past relationship, a childhood friendship with a dark secret, or connected to people who were hurt by him.

I really hated most of the side male characters who were part of the wedding party (with the exception of the best man). They had a very tribal attitude that I sometimes found hard to read through. I do think that was the point of these characters though, so I believe that was a successful bit of writing, and when combined with the plus one character, it was the best part of the book.

From what I’ve seen of Lucy Foley’s other book The Hunting Party, people have similar complaints. I’d like to see for myself if I’d like it, but as of right now I don’t think that their writing is for me, which is disappointing.

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