Definitely not John Grisham's best effort and a story (decent but not fast-paced or driven enough) seemingly not worthy of someone with his gravitas. However, Grisham does colour outside the lines and it is entertaining to see how he contends with moral uncertainty.
A thrilling ride through the our current day legal system. A highly unlikely conclusion does not diminish the entertainment value of this tale.
As a legal writer, John Grisham focuses on the aspects of life for people who are involved in the judicial system. In this novel, readers are given an idea of the hardship of law school, as three friends (Mark, Todd, Zola) face difficulties studying and attending class, especially since their close friend committed suicide. This event pushes the three ordinary students to drop out in the final year. They face a large sum of debt from their loans, and have no one to turn to. Mark, Todd, and Zola become fake lawyers and hustle quick money in the corners of the courts without actual licenses. The pace of the story varies from a contemporary style to a chase in hopes of hunting down a wealthy hedge-fund operator behind the Great Law School Scam. Grisham does a smooth job in going back and forth between characters, and being able to express emotional tension as well as feelings. Rating: 4 of 5
- @Mercurial_Series of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library
John Grisham's "vacation from writing John Grisham books" is over, as he is back to writing his typical 'legal thrillers'. Inspired by a 2014 magazine expose called "The Law School Scam", he takes aim at shady for-profit law schools, and the just-as-shady student debt system. I enjoyed the book, but clearly his best work is far behind him. Which is ok too. How many times can you write something as good as "The Firm"?
Another poorly written story - what has happened to Grisham? His characters are morally suspect, not at all well developed, and just unlikeable. I give him credit for exposing diploma mills and the outright con game that schools play with unsuspecting students who end up with unsurmontable debt and little chance of getting decently paid jobs. Also, the deplorable scam companies that service this debt - in which the US government is culpable. It's just as literature, it is a poor attempt.
This was not one of this author's better efforts. It was tedious in many chapters, and hard to follow as a result. I did stick it out to the end so it wasn't totally horrible, but I sure thought about giving up several times! The ending was, I guess, satisfactory, but not very believable. Hope he comes up with a better idea for his next effort. Generally I do enjoy this author's works, so I will give him another chance.
A slow start that went downhill quickly. After reading halfway through the book I believed I was wasting my time and returned it to the library. His writing is either really good or really bad. Some of his best writing is diminished by quickly ending the book either to meet a deadline or just to get it done...
Very disappointed with this book. Author must have been in a dark place to write this. Trying too hard to make a political statement about abuses in student loans and banking and in doing so loses his audience. More of an opinion piece than a good story.
I loved this book! A great, sort of easy read. Amusing and you're rooting for them all the way.
Lesser effort by the author. Three law school dropouts practice law without a license and bring down a scam involving schools and banks. Reveals sordid side of school debt on students. Trite plot.
This book was just ok. I think Grisham missed an opportunity to explore for-profit school rip-offs a little more. I would have loved to have seen the protagonists somehow bilk the school for money more directly. How they got their money is just confusing and when they decide to practice law without a license that's confusing too. Grisham's successes are based solely on plot and this one was a bit lacking.
This was an enjoyable read but only if you suspended disbelief. The only person in the book with any kind of moral character was Zola Maal. Things picked up enough in the last quarter or so of the book to make it an enjoyable read. The one thing I would commend the author for would be his bringing attention to the deplorable state of higher education in this country which seems to be all about how much government money that colleges and universities can glom onto. Also the false premise that has been sold that everyone needs a college education. Just another symptom of the greed and corruption endemic in our decaying culture. Otherwise, John Grisham, like so many best-selling authors of long standing who write pop fiction, just seems to be phoning it in these days.
A literary equivalent of fake news (not the kind the person elected by the electoral college refers to, but genuine false news). A possible exception can be found in his Author's Note: "As usual, I played fast and loose with reality, especially the legal stuff. Laws, courthouses, procedures, statutes, firms, ... all have been fictionalized at will to suit the story." As one who practiced securities litigation (defense side) for many years, Grisham's depiction of how class actions work is ludicrous -- firms are not required to nor do they sign up "thousands" of clients to file a class action. I find it difficult to believe that he ran any of this nonsense by any lawyer with knowledge of the rules of civil procedure or experience in class actions. I suspect that many reading this stuff will think that this stuff is true, and for that, we all suffer. Further, writing is not Grishham's strong suit.
I have enjoyed a number of Grisham's books, this one is not one of them. The plot took way to long to develop and I was frequently asking myself, "Do I really care about this?" Additionally, the premise that law students who had attended a crappy law school on easily borrowed government money were justified in representing themselves fraudulently as attorneys were characters the reader can relate to is a stretch.
Mark, Todd and Zola are devastated by the suicide of their friend Gordy just before they are to begin their last semester of law school. They have also discovered that their law school is nothing more than a diploma mill with only a 50/50 chance of passing the bar. Were they to acquire a job in a law firm, it is unlikely their sizable loans will be paid off before they are old and gray. They hatch a scheme to practice law without licenses and the plot continues from there. The upside is seeing their shenanigans as they attempt to stay one step ahead of the police and FBI while also taking revenge on the man who controls their law school, loan companies and any firm that might have hired them if they had graduated and passed the law. The system stinks and they are out to use it to their advantage. The downside is the many laws being broken on the side of our protagonists and the seams underside of the corporations at the top. There is also a discouraging glimpse into the deportation process via Zola's family. Classic Grisham!
I always hesitate to bash a book as I know they take hard work to write and are very personal to the writer. But, this is not a good book. While the reader is supposed to draw a clear line between the "good guys" and the "bad guys", the good guys are such awful, miserable people in most regards, that you find yourself ambivalent about the characters from both sides.
For profit schools are execrable and have received a rich castigation in the media that is well-deserved. And yes, in many cases, lawyers aren't great human beings possessed of sterling moral character, nor are big time banks and private investors plumbing every conceivable loophole. But the bad guys here are drawn with such a broad and one-dimensional stroke that I felt a bit insulted as a reader.
So little of what the main characters say or do is plausible, or even possible, that I found myself throwing the book down in disgust on several occasions. I did not want these characters to get away with their crimes and to profit from them in the end. Do yourself a favor and pick up another of Grisham's books. He has numerous good titles out there. This isn't one of them.
This book was such a disappointment. A trend that Mr. Grisham seems to be following is to make all of his characters morally and ethically challenged. Not one of them is likeable. Not to mention the ending was so totally unrealistic. I miss the old days where there was actually character development like in A Time to Kill. His novels lately are just a running narration. This happened and that happened and this happened. Even James Patterson creates characters that are fleshed out and express some sort of emotion. I wish I hadn't wasted the time and energy it took to read this book. At least I got to read it for free by checking it out from my local library! By the way, I don't normally right reviews, but this book was so bad I wanted to hopefully save others, especially Grisham fans, from wasting their time and aggravation.
Not his best work... many situations are simply not plausible given today's technology... Any fool with a smart phone can Google the local bar association to confirm his/her lawyer is legit. Also, no way most law students, even those in DC, know where to get false documents. In addition, it is highly unlikely that a $1000 fake passport would pass even the most basic customs inspection at an international airport.
I almost didn't check this book out because most of the critiques were not positive. But I find Grisham's books to be so well written that I always enjoy them, hits or not. This one gave insights into the "law school mills" that probably exist everywhere. The burden of debt that a college graduate comes out of school with is terrible and in this instance, did not prepare the student for taking the bar exam. So no job, or a low-paying one, leaves the graduate buried. For that, I think Grisham is well qualified to write this book and keep us apprised of how many schools operate. Personally, I like this book.
Too frothy and effervescent for me; Grisham has produced volumes of excellence, but this one is far from that. If you check it out from the library, at least you haven't wasted your "beautiful, beautiful" wonderful tax "cut" moneys buying it. Unbelievable, no characters of merit, an story line not plausible, and no real lessons to be learned. I've read Sycamore Row and it's no Sycamore Row.
Did not enjoy this book at all. The storyline was weak, disjointed and confused. It really didn’t come together at all and for the first time, I was very tempted to abandon this book.
I used to enjoy John Grisham’s work, but the last few published have become very mediocre.
I am not a hater of new Grisham novels (really enjoyed Gray Mountain and Camino Island), but this story was all over the place, trying to force unlikeable characters into current events. You have everything from student loan debt, to Wells Fargo ethical practices, mental health issues and dreamers facing deportation. Not sure if Grisham actually wrote this one, but its not worth your time reading it. Seriously all the characters were underdeveloped and awful.