The Believers – Book Review

The Believers by Zoe Heller

I was quite excited to receive “The Believers” from the Barnes and Nobles First Look Book Club.  Unfortunately, I found it to be not at all my cup of tea.

“The Believers” tells the story of a family whose socialist 1960s ideals have gone awry.  When lawyer Joel has goes into a coma, his wife Audrey’s life is irrevocably changed, particularly as she begins to find out Joel’s secrets.

Heller’s writing and style was rather good, but the characters were simply atrocious.  Joel and Audrey’s daughters annoyed me, their son was good for nothing, and I absolutely detested Audrey.  Yes, this means that Heller wrote EXTREMELY convincing characters, but for me that was detrimental to my reading of the novel.  I simply could not stand reading about these people.  Nor was I particularly impressed with Joel’s ‘secret’.  I won’t tell you what it is, but I will tell you that Audrey knew this sort of thing was going on, but not the precise details of the ‘secret’ itself.  Since she didn’t care much that similar things were happening, I found it difficult to accept the level of betrayal she felt over the ‘secret’.

If you enjoy watching nasty hypocrites screwing up their lives and the lives of those around them more and more, you will probably love “The Believers.’  Likewise, if you are able to look past distinctly unlikeable characters, you will probably enjoy Heller’s skill.  If you need to be able to relate, or at least tolerate SOME character in a book, “The Believers” may not be the best choice for you.

“The Believers” is being released March 3, 2009.

Preorder “The Believers” on Amazon.

14 comments to The Believers – Book Review

  • Kathy

    I think I’ll skip this book – I haven’t heard too many great things about it.

  • It’s nice to have a big ugly character or two in a story, just for spice, but you have to like SOME of them or the whole experience leaves you drained and negative. Thanks for the head’s up!

  • Ti

    Sorry that it wasn’t your cup of tea. I hate when that happens. I have to like the characters or at least understand them so I will probably skip this one.

  • I recently reviewed a novel where the author later told me she was glad I mentioned the main character wasn’t likable because her goal was to make the most unlikable character she could. It’s horrible when that happens!

  • I’ve heard not so great things about this book – too bad!

  • I’m having a hard time finishing this book because of the characters. I’m hoping to finish it soon, though, so I can put it behind me.

  • I have this on my TBR shelf to read and am thinking now I should have ignored all the reviews out there. I haven’t heard too many good things about this one, unfortunately and it’s putting me off starting on it.

  • I’ve read a few like this and I hate it when that happens :(

  • I hate watching nasty hypocrites screwing up their lives and the lives of those around them. So obviously i wouldn’t like this book either :)

  • ok, I think that makes me the only person who reviewed this book recently that rather liked the book. I am ALWAYS contrary…lol

  • Caite, I think there were some decent to good reviews on LibraryThing. I don’t know, it was like I thought it was good (well done, at least) and hated it at the same time. More power to Zoe Heller for being able to elicit such strong reactions with her writing.

  • I don’t think I would like this book either. I usually need at least one likeable character in a story.

  • Your last paragraph with the recommendations made me laugh.
    I just finished a book that I had a really hard time liking or identifying with the main character. It was a good story but I just did not get the main character or his motivations.

  • This is one of the few books this year I have to put in the DNF category. It’s too bad because Notes on a Scandal was sooo good!