Acts of Desperation

Megan Nolan

fiction literary
dark reflective fast-paced

288 pages

In the first scene of this provocative gut-punch of a novel, our unnamed narrator meets a magnetic writer named Ciaran and falls, against her better judgment, completely in his power. After a brief, all-consuming romance he abruptly rejects her, sending her into a tailspin of jealous obsession and longing. If he ever comes back to her, she resolves to hang onto him and his love at all costs, even if it destroys her...

Part breathless confession, part lucid critique, Acts of Desperation renders a consciousness split between rebellion and submission, between escaping degradation and eroticizing it, between loving and being lovable. With unsettling, electric precision, Nolan dissects one of life's most elusive mysteries: Why do we want what we want, and how do we want it?

Combining the intellectual excitement of Rachel Cusk with the emotional rawness of Elena Ferrante, Acts of Desperation interrogates the nature of desire, power, and toxic relationships, challenging us to reckon honestly with our own insatiability.

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summary of 35 ratings (see reviews)

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dark 88%
emotional 88%
reflective 69%
sad 57%
tense 42%
challenging 26%
funny 7%
hopeful 3%


medium 58%
fast 29%
slow 12%

Plot- or character-driven?

Character: 95% | A mix: 4%

Strong character development?

Yes: 56% | It's complicated: 39% | No: 4%

Loveable characters?

It's complicated: 50% | No: 36% | Yes: 13%

Diverse cast of characters?

No: 95% | N/A: 4%

Flaws of characters a main focus?

Yes: 95% | It's complicated: 4%

Average rating