Netflix Book Club: Books For The TV Junkie, by Rachel Foley
Netflix has had tremendous success recently with their Netflix Original adaptations of well-loved books, such as Caroline Kepnes’ You, one of the most popular series on Netflix in years. On November 16, 2021, actress Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black and Mrs. America) launched the site Netflix Book Club as a way for lovers of literature and TV to read, watch, and discuss their favorite franchise. As a cast member from a show that was an adaptation of a popular book, she “know[s] there is a lot that happens between the page and the screen” (Netflix Book Club). This is not any old book club that your mom attends after soccer practice. The website describes itself as a make-it-your-own community with “no homework, no obligations, and definitely no have-tos.” It’s a great way to enjoy books and TV alike. I really enjoyed the December book/show, Harlan Coben’s Stay Close. Let’s dive into it.
Stay Close is a mystery-thriller with characters like Megan, a regular soccer mom with an exotic past, Ray, a paparazzo who hasn’t gotten over his lost love, and Detective Broome, a member of the Atlantic City Police Department who tries to unfold a 17-year-old mystery. The mystery just resurfaced with the disappearance of a man named Carlton Flynn. The book encapsulates this mystery, and I could NOT put it down. I would be reading, and then next thing I knew, an hour had passed. I thoroughly enjoyed the read, and the twist is one you’ll never see coming (no spoilers, of course). Expect many emotional moments and times where you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for the mystery to be solved. The story drags in the middle where the tension builds to the solution, but their stories and the way the mystery unfolds kept me turning the page, chapter after chapter. This is also the case in the show. I had to watch parts on 2x speed after already knowing the twist from the book. As is always the case with most books/TV shows, it does have its downfalls.
While Coben is a great author that knows how to draw a reader in, I have a HUGE problem with how women are represented in this book. Teeny tiny spoilers ahead, but I promise nothing about the plot. Megan/Maygin/Cassie, the main character, used to be a stripper. Tawny, a random side character who was in contact with Carlton Flynn, is a stripper. Detective Broome’s partner is only introduced as his ex-wife that he kinda still has a thing for, and we get pretty much nothing else about her character. What we do get, is from him. The missing man Stewart Green’s supposed widow is just that, a suspected widow. Yet again, we don’t get much of anything from her, except that she hooked up with Detective Broome a few times. Every woman in this book is either a stripper or a widow, ready to please male characters. This is, of course, a woman’s only job in the world (severe sarcasm). I couldn’t look past this at all in my reading of the book. I loved the plot and the mystery, but this is completely unacceptable.
To sum things up, I would definitely recommend checking out Netflix Book Club and Stay Close. While the sexism is a problem, the story is great. It’s difficult to recommend something with this much inherent sexism, but it’s worth the read. The story is deep, and I admire the writing in terms of syntax and character development in the few main characters. The TV show is a little slow for my taste, but the book has a great build in suspense as you see Detective Broome unfold the mystery that has haunted Atlantic City for over 17 years. I definitely prefer the book over the TV show, so I’d recommend that first. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!