The Truants

The Truants

‘Where do I find Crime?’‘Crime doesn’t have its own section,’ said the librarian without looking up, ‘it’s all under fiction.’In this seductive coming-of-age debut, Jess Walker, a young and uninitiated first year student, falls in love with two great story-tellers. One, Alec, a journalist in exile, the other, Lorna, a charismatic literature professor. Starting out under th...

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Title:The Truants
Author:Kate Weinberg
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The Truants Reviews

  • Alfie Fletcher

    From the first sentence this debut genius Kate Weinberg has you wrapped around her pen. There's something about the depth of the emotional connection between reader and character. I sit, in the sun, reading this novel, and I think I'm by myself. But then Jess walks past, then Lorna and Alec and the rest of Weinberg's gorgeous creations. Upon closing the book, they really really live on, as the tittilating ending continues to tango. This book is a waterfall of emotion, and the easiest five stars

    From the first sentence this debut genius Kate Weinberg has you wrapped around her pen. There's something about the depth of the emotional connection between reader and character. I sit, in the sun, reading this novel, and I think I'm by myself. But then Jess walks past, then Lorna and Alec and the rest of Weinberg's gorgeous creations. Upon closing the book, they really really live on, as the tittilating ending continues to tango. This book is a waterfall of emotion, and the easiest five stars I ever gave.

  • Laur (Define Bookish)

    There are shades of The Secret History in this debut novel; that heady blend of academia, keys-to-the-kingdom wish fulfilment, and delicious menace.

    Fresher Jess Walker is newly arrived at the East Anglian university where her hero Lorna Clay teaches a first-year course on Agatha Christie entitled 'Murdered by the campus'. Befriended by reckless aristocrat Georgie and her charismatic boyfriend Alec, middle child Jess is finally able to cast off her suburban ordinariness. As she becomes entangled

    There are shades of The Secret History in this debut novel; that heady blend of academia, keys-to-the-kingdom wish fulfilment, and delicious menace.

    Fresher Jess Walker is newly arrived at the East Anglian university where her hero Lorna Clay teaches a first-year course on Agatha Christie entitled 'Murdered by the campus'. Befriended by reckless aristocrat Georgie and her charismatic boyfriend Alec, middle child Jess is finally able to cast off her suburban ordinariness. As she becomes entangled in the lives of her new friends and strives to impress the dazzling Lorna, Jess finds her moral boundaries shifting and a tragedy waiting to unfold.

    Part coming-of-age novel, part campus thriller, what follows is a masterclass in plotting. The Truants hides its secrets in plain sight, often with a wry wit that only reveals itself in retrospect. This is a story about storytellers: narrator Jess, framing events for us from a vantage point some years later; hearse-driving journalist-turned-student Alec; author and campus superstar Lorna; and master plotter Christie herself, her own mysteries exerting subtle influence over this story and its telling.

    It's not often I want to reread a book as soon as I finish it. The Truants is a true page-turner, keeping me up late on a school night, breadcrumbing clues towards the darkness at its core. Yet it's also rich and layered enough to make me want to linger with its characters awhile longer, to dig deeper and find what I missed on the first pass. Ambiguous, absorbing and utterly compelling, this one's a new favourite.

  • Amy

    Many thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc for an electronic copy of this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

    "People disappear when they most want to be seen"

    Disappearance is a constant theme throughout this novel, the disappearance of people, of objects of thoughts and feelings. However just as important is the reappearance of these things and the circumstances of that. The novel constantly challenges the statement it makes. Disappearances in this story are often in contrast to p

    Many thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc for an electronic copy of this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

    "People disappear when they most want to be seen"

    Disappearance is a constant theme throughout this novel, the disappearance of people, of objects of thoughts and feelings. However just as important is the reappearance of these things and the circumstances of that. The novel constantly challenges the statement it makes. Disappearances in this story are often in contrast to people wanting to be seen, or perhaps they are wanting to be seen but not by everyone. I would like to focus on this theme more and explore it in an essay, which I will probably do on my blog but for the purposes of this review what I want to say now is just how much I loved reading this. It was everything I look for in a novel, well written, good characterisation, natural flow of dialogue, mysterious goings on, a focus on relationships and how these change and morph.

    I am going to be recommending this book to anyone who will listen to me from now on, I am the nominated book picker for October for an online book club I am part of and this is going to be my choice as long as it fits in the guidelines.

  • Blair

    I had been saving this for a sunny day, and I read it on a sunny day, and it was perfect; my memories of it will forever be infused with a sort of glow that could've come from the weather or from the story – perhaps a combination of both.

    is another

    esque campus novel, this one set at the University of East Anglia, where deliberately bland protagonist Jess gets close to a lecturer she idolises and becomes embroiled in a thorny love triangle. (You know the drill, and yo

    I had been saving this for a sunny day, and I read it on a sunny day, and it was perfect; my memories of it will forever be infused with a sort of glow that could've come from the weather or from the story – perhaps a combination of both.

    is another

    esque campus novel, this one set at the University of East Anglia, where deliberately bland protagonist Jess gets close to a lecturer she idolises and becomes embroiled in a thorny love triangle. (You know the drill, and you probably know from that sentence whether you'll want to read this or not.) It's a formula that rarely fails to engage me, and this is a good treatment of it, following the tried-and-tested beats and adding just enough spikes of excitement to keep you guessing. Reading it in one long, glorious gulp is the best way to go: it's difficult to believe in some of the characters and their behaviour, but for a few engrossing hours I was able to set all that aside and just soak up the fantastic storytelling.

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  • Roman Clodia

    This is my ideal summer/beach/switch-off reading: it's literate without being literary and has enough love, sex, desire, secrets, death, grief and obsession to keep the pages turning rapidly. Essentially this is a campus novel and a tale of growing up, and is excellent on depicting sexual chemistry and friendship.

    There are lots of implausibilities most obviously the idea of a university lecturer becoming best friends with an 18 year old undergraduate she teaches so that they socialise and holida

    This is my ideal summer/beach/switch-off reading: it's literate without being literary and has enough love, sex, desire, secrets, death, grief and obsession to keep the pages turning rapidly. Essentially this is a campus novel and a tale of growing up, and is excellent on depicting sexual chemistry and friendship.

    There are lots of implausibilities most obviously the idea of a university lecturer becoming best friends with an 18 year old undergraduate she teaches so that they socialise and holiday together. But if you can swallow this, then you're in for a satisfying read that is both warm and compelling.

  • Eamon Ronan

    I was worried that this would be an inferior knock-off version of The Secret History, but in the end my fears were unfounded. The Truants is a well-written literary thriller/mystery that is indebted to similar "campus mystery" novels but still manages to forge its own path.

    Jess Walker is our narrator, a first-year student at a fictionalized UEA, where she befriends three other students and falls under the spell of charismatic academic Lorna Clay. The description on the inner sleeve of the book

    I was worried that this would be an inferior knock-off version of The Secret History, but in the end my fears were unfounded. The Truants is a well-written literary thriller/mystery that is indebted to similar "campus mystery" novels but still manages to forge its own path.

    Jess Walker is our narrator, a first-year student at a fictionalized UEA, where she befriends three other students and falls under the spell of charismatic academic Lorna Clay. The description on the inner sleeve of the book cover leads the reader to believe that this will be a tale primarily about Jess and her "tightly knit group of rule breakers," but this is not necessarily the case. In fact, about halfway through the novel, the narrative pivots away from the university itself, though it never completely abandons its campus roots, and the focus shifts to the relationship between Jess and Lorna.

    If there's one fault I found with the book, it's that the depiction of the relationships between the characters sometimes didn't ring true. Weinberg's writing is very assured and pleasant to read, but every now and then I'd pause after a chapter and think... is this realistic? Would I feel this attached to someone I had met only a few weeks ago? Is Lorna/Alec really that alluring? Similarly, I found that this book struggled with a classic downfall of "great works in works of fiction." That is, the made-up book within the novel that's supposed to have been groundbreaking and critically acclaimed upon its publication sounds, well, a bit pedestrian. The amazing, semi-famous academic Lorna Clay has penned a seminal work called (you guessed it) The Truants, but the description of the book in the novel is lackluster: "...writers needed to break the rules to be brilliant. The author was not dead: just blind drunk, very high or having sex with anyone they could get their hands on -- living life dangerously and selfishly in the pursuit of extreme insight."

    Lorna's book, then, is a collection of short biographies of different writers who fall under this thesis. To me, this sounds like... a Buzzfeed article, maybe? Of course, I don't expect a nonexistent academic book that's a minor symbol in a novel to have a uniquely brilliant thesis, but I do expect a bit more than this, especially since it shares its name with the title of the actual book. And, what's more, I felt as though this was an example of the book's main problem, which is that it wasn't entirely believable. I mean, I get it. It's fiction. It's a mystery/thriller. It doesn't have to mirror life exactly, if at all. But I found myself doubting the motivations and actions of the characters. (Would an esteemed professor, no matter how eccentric, spend this much time with undergraduate students?)

    Overall, though, I found The Truants a very enjoyable and highly readable (finished in about a day!) mystery that posed as many questions as it answered.

  • Lou

    The Truants sounded right up my street with a cast of non-conforming rebel students, but I must admit that I was astounded to find this is Weinberg's debut novel as it's such an accomplished, original book. It revolves around main protagonist, Jess, and her current feelings of being the centre of attention when she has only ever blended into crowds seamlessly to become anonymous. Campus novels don't usually work out well for me as I'm not such a big fan but this had everything associated with th

    The Truants sounded right up my street with a cast of non-conforming rebel students, but I must admit that I was astounded to find this is Weinberg's debut novel as it's such an accomplished, original book. It revolves around main protagonist, Jess, and her current feelings of being the centre of attention when she has only ever blended into crowds seamlessly to become anonymous. Campus novels don't usually work out well for me as I'm not such a big fan but this had everything associated with the subgenre but with more tension and the suspenseful atmosphere Weinberg creates is clearly a rare and raw talent.

    The intentional ambiguousness of the cast of characters will not float everyone's boat, however, I thought it made the story more mysterious and intriguing for me. Ultimately, The Truants is a coming-of-age novel that follows a group of youngsters as they navigate their way around their worlds. The characterisation is superb, the plot well constructed and the observations of the author are on point. This is a difficult book to categorise as it has elements of literary fiction, romance, young adult and thriller/mystery, but above all, it's a book that charts the growth of a group of university students who are trying to find themselves in a world where everything seems endlessly chaotic. Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for an ARC.

  • Eleanor

    Whether you enjoy

    or not probably depends on how well you react to familiarity. When I read the proof blurb by Scarlett Thomas that claimed this was like a mashup of Donna Tartt, Agatha Christie, and Liane Moriarty, I wasn’t prepared for how entirely accurate that was: it’s

    set in Norwich with Agatha Christie texts occupying the place that classical Greek culture takes in the former. If you’re keen on genre riffs, and sexily unpredictable men, and the erotics of pe

    Whether you enjoy

    or not probably depends on how well you react to familiarity. When I read the proof blurb by Scarlett Thomas that claimed this was like a mashup of Donna Tartt, Agatha Christie, and Liane Moriarty, I wasn’t prepared for how entirely accurate that was: it’s

    set in Norwich with Agatha Christie texts occupying the place that classical Greek culture takes in the former. If you’re keen on genre riffs, and sexily unpredictable men, and the erotics of pedagogy, pick it up. I rather enjoyed it, but I doubt I’ll remember much in a month.

  • Louise Wilson

    Jess Walker is middle class and about to start university. She chose the university due to her obsession with the academic Lorna Clay, whose book "The Truants" is about writers having to push themselves to reach their goals. The Truants is about a clever group of misfits who yearn to break the rules.

    The concept sounded just right. Young people trying to find themselves in each other. The book is told from Jess's point of view. There is the usual mix of campus stuff going on but some of it was no

    Jess Walker is middle class and about to start university. She chose the university due to her obsession with the academic Lorna Clay, whose book "The Truants" is about writers having to push themselves to reach their goals. The Truants is about a clever group of misfits who yearn to break the rules.

    The concept sounded just right. Young people trying to find themselves in each other. The book is told from Jess's point of view. There is the usual mix of campus stuff going on but some of it was not what I expected. The book is well written. The characters are messy. I did like this book but I also found myself wanting more. I will read more from this author in future.

    I would like to thank NetGalley, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ) and the author Kate Weinberg for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  • Anna Luce

    ★★✰✰✰ 2.5 stars

    In many ways

    reminded me of

    by

    (not a good thing).

    In spite of its intriguing first few chapters

    : we have a main character who has a

    related to her past, she makes a new female friend who is more attractive and charming than she is, she falls for an alluring man who has

    of his own, and she also finds herself drawn to her professor, who also happen

    ★★✰✰✰ 2.5 stars

    In many ways

    reminded me of

    by

    (not a good thing).

    In spite of its intriguing first few chapters

    : we have a main character who has a

    related to her past, she makes a new female friend who is more attractive and charming than she is, she falls for an alluring man who has

    of his own, and she also finds herself drawn to her professor, who also happens to have

    of her own.

    This is the type of

    . Kate Weinberg's prose was

    but as the story is told through an

    main character's point of view,

    .

    A more nuanced or interesting protagonist could have made this into a much more enjoyable novel. Our MC however is

    who somehow manages to attract the attention of people who

    a lot more fascinating than her...I write

    as I never quite believed that her guy (that's how interesting he is) and her teacher were as clever or as alluring as our narrator told us.

    We are never shown exactly why they have such a powerful effect on her. This sort of introspective narrative can work...but here our MC's examination of this period of her life seemed somewhat artificial.

    I found this book engaging only when the characters discuss Agatha Christie. The rest is

    (dating for a few months when you are a first year uni student...is it as all-consuming as that?).

    If the characters had been more than thinly drawn clichés then I would have cared for this type of drama.

    While this novel was slightly better than other clique-focused releases (such as the campus novel

    and the artsy

    ) I would recommend you skip this one...maybe you could try the very entertaining

    or Donna Tartt's seminal

    or even the hugely underrated

    .

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