Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney did everything exactly as it should be done for her novel The Nest, and the result is an amateur first novel that reads like it grew out of a writer’s workshop. It isn’t bad. But it isn’t good, a two-star novel if ever there was one.
The “rules” of novel writing show through in the novel’s structure, and Sweeney’s prose sometimes belies the probable reach for a thesaurus (I know it sounds fancier, but “purview” ≠ “view,” and when your writing is usually conversational, the use of the 4th or 5th definition of a word stands out terribly: a “premeditated” pregnancy is technically correct, but…) There isn’t any innovation in the writing and, unless your own life dovetails with those of her selfish mid-forties New Yorker protagonists, you likely won’t find reason to care about them.
Unfortunately for Sweeney’s novel, good (or at least three-dimensional) characters are the only thing that could make this story not vapid.