Disappointing. I had read so many great reviews about this book (USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, etc) that I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to the hype. The writing is decent and the premise (which is in the Book description above so I won't repeat it here) is very intriguing. However, I was unable to suspend belief to the level necessary to really "buy" this story for several reasons:
1) I just don't see 18-20 year olds actually caring as much about the fictional Polly presented in a college course as would be needed to get as sucked down the rabbit hole as they do.
2) the advancement of the plot depends on WAY too many "coincidences" / events happening at just the right time, in just the right location and, on at least one occasion, something most would consider logical behavior NOT happening.
3) as involved as the students get in the mystery, they leave several very obvious avenues of inquiry left unexplored (because, of course, doing so would derail the whole story).
4) there is no way as many people could be "in" on things as are required without someone tripping up or, conversely, no way as many people could be clueless to such elaborate events unfolding in (supposed) secrecy around them.
5) there are several events that, even after the book is wrapped up, don't make sense in context of the given explanation / conclusion.
Perhaps others will not be as "demanding" as I am about characters' behavior and the suspension of belief required, but I was disappointed that a premise that could have delivered so much came up so short.
The biggest mystery to me is how this book got so many stellar reviews. The premise was very exciting, and I had high hopes for it, but quite frankly, nothing about this book actually worked upon execution.
There just wasn't enough here to be believable. Everything was far-fetched, extreme, and just didn't make sense. I think you can see that the idea ran away from the author, because there are small pieces that work, but that's it. There's no way that this would have been allowed at any college, I don't care what anyone says. No way. I finished the story, but sadly, I wasn't impressed, and I doubt I'd read any books by this author in the future.
The premise behind this book - a logic puzzle that may or may not be happening in real life - is probably the best thing about it. While it's compulsively readable, you see some of the twists and turns coming from a mile away and the ending is very unsatisfying. The fact that it's relatively short is a mercy, since as I read, I just wanted the whole thing to be over with.
Reading this book it sort of felt like not only were the characters in the book played big time but the reader as well. Here's the assignment: Solve this case and you save a fictitious, innocent life and it took me into a world of memorizing clues that were given to the students.
I had a clue which way this book would go after a certain intimate talk between two characters but by then the book was far away from being finished. Over a flood of new information I almost forgot about my own theory but wasn't surprised to find it affirmed in the end. But nevertheless the book keeps the a lot of surprised and twists your mind.
In case you decided to read it keep in mind, there is no randomness and distractions take way of track. ;-)
The book would have gotten five stars from me if it weren't for the ending. It was a logic ending from my small point of view but it also fell flat and didn't hold up to the rest of the book.
I have to go against the other reviews here and say I loved this book. But maybe because I'm in my early 20s and so it's premise surrounds a group of college kids my age (if a little younger). I thought it riveting, i couldn't put it down and blew through it. I agree that the ending was a bit disappointing for the whole set up and all the craziness that ensues, but I personally think it's worth the hype.