The Birthday Party by Laurent Mauvignier is a unique novel. I would describe it as a literary thriller with a pulse. And it’s worth the read if you want to read something that’s a little different, but still has many traditional thriller tropes. However…

The novel does ultimately leave the reader asking themselves: Is it really possible for a novel to be both literary and thrilling? And then answering themselves: probably not? But maybe? Which might be a good thing, I suppose.

Overall, the pace of the novel matched its narrative arc(s), which is fairly fast-paced for most of the novel, making it a quick and entertaining read. There were, however, a few wordy passages that slowed down the pace of the narrative at unfortunate times, taking you out of the story.

Following the different characters and their inner workings throughout the novel was interesting, and will definitely keep you engaged too. However, many of the characters, especially the female characters, seem to only be there to support how two characters, in particular, are depicted and perceived: Patrice and Denis. Those two characters force you to ask yourself what role toxic masculinity plays in the novel and in society. But then, it’s almost as if you, the reader, are excused from answering what role it plays, and are even nudged to be indifferent toward it, which is a bit disconcerting.

This novel drew me in right away but left me feeling so-so and rolling my eyes once or twice toward the end, which is a shame because it takes you on quite the suspenseful ride until you’re about two-thirds of the way through it.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

For more information about this novel, see the summary of The Birthday Party on Goodreads.

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