Synopsis according to Goodreads:
“Richard Papen arrived at Hampden College in New England and was quickly seduced by an elite group of five students, all Greek scholars, all worldly, self-assured, and, at first glance, all highly unapproachable. As Richard is drawn into their inner circle, he learns a terrifying secret that binds them to one another…a secret about an incident in the woods in the dead of night where an ancient rite was brought to brutal life…and led to a gruesome death. And that was just the beginning….“
The premise of The Secret History sounds great. A big secret, charismatic but maybe truly creepy people, a downward spiral and drama and tension….and I really wish this book was anything as great as it sounds by the premise.
That’s not to say the premise is incorrect- it’s factually true. But it leaves out the rest of this book, which can be summed up like this: Using bloated narrative, ‘tell don’t show’ techniques and constant over-sharing of information not relevant to plot or character development, Tartt drags out a rehash of I Know What You Did Last Summer until it’s painful, with characters so underdeveloped and irritatingly superior that you’ll root for a surprise ending where they all die and you can get on with your life. Prepare to waste your time, and wonder why people think this story is anything resembling good, with a plot so slow and awkward, you’ll consider throwing it out the window at least a dozen times.
So…yeah, I hated this book. I hated that it could have been great if it dropped about 2/3 of its length, had some actual character development (through actions, reactions, and each one having some semblance of a personality) and portrayed the victim as anything other than a hateful leech. I also hated that the author narrated the audiobook, because she mumbled in a monotone the entire time, sucking any possibility of life out of this already painful story.
I recommend it to insomniacs looking for something to bore them into sleep, people who think large words alone make a good story, and those to whom cardboard cut-outs could be considered “deep characters”. Or, to nobody.