Published by Berkley Books on July 5th 2022
The competitive selection process for a prized college scholarship turns deadly in the latest thriller from USA Today bestselling author David Bell.On a beautiful spring day, six college students with nothing in common besides a desperate inability to pay for school gather to compete for the prestigious Hyde Fellowship.
Milo--The front-runner.Natalia--The brain.James--The rule follower.Sydney--The athlete.Duffy--The cowboy.Emily--The social justice warrior.
The six of them must surrender their devices when they enter Hyde House, an aging Victorian structure that sits in a secluded part of campus.
Once inside, the doors lock behind them. The students are not allowed to leave until they spend eight hours with a college administrator who will do almost anything to keep the school afloat and Nicholas Hyde, the privileged and notoriously irresponsible heir to the Hyde family fortune. If the students leave before time is up, they'll be immediately disqualified.
But when one of the six finalists drops dead, the other students fear they're being picked off one by one. With a violent protest raging outside and no way to escape, the survivors viciously turn on each other.
The Finalists is a chilling and profound look at the lengths both students and colleges will go to survive in a resource-starved academic world.
Wow! I really struggled with rating THE FINALISTS. I’m a huge David Bell fan and had high expectations for this book. In some ways, my expectations were met or exceeded. Here’s what I liked:
1)Pacing – This book was a page-turner. I read it in about 2 sittings. Short, cliff-hanging chapters for the win!
2)Writing style – The Writing style was typical David Bell — smart while straighforward.
3)Level of Suspense – I had no idea what the outcome was going to be until it was spelled out on the very last pages of the book.
4) Likeable protagonist – Troy Gaines was my favorite charater. He was the level-headed, pragmatic voice of reason among the group of suspicious and reactive students.
Here’s what didn’t work as well:
1) Level of suspension of disbelief required – This was my biggest barrier. While the genre and synopsis implied this book would probably not read like true crime, the believability factor hovered between unreasonable and outlandish. Like, as in, there is just no way!
2) Characters – There was some stereotyping in almost all of the characters. While some of this was necessary to the plot, I felt that they could have been developed into more dimensional and relatable characters. I found it difficult to really connect to any of them.
While this book wasn’t 5 stars for me, I am still anxiously awaiting David Bell’s next book.
Many thanks to Berkley Books for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.