Book Review: The Finalists by David Bell

In David Bell's The Finalists, the competitive selection process for a prized college scholarship turns deadly. Here's Jenny Maloney's review!

The Hyde scholarship is many things—competitive, comprehensive, and a golden ticket for the student who wins it. The scholarship is awarded to only one student every year. It covers all tuition and guarantees a job after graduation. To attain the award, a select group of students is brought to Hyde House, the family home of the private college’s founders. Once there, they undergo a rigorous written test followed by an oral interview. 

All while locked inside Hyde House, with no way to contact the outside world.

This year, the scholarship carries extra weight. As the biggest selling point for the private college, it’s necessary that everything going according to plan. The college is under tremendous financial pressure. Without the support of the last Hyde heir, the scholarship, the college, and the students’ futures are all on the line. 

All six of the selected students enter the house—but not everyone makes it out.

The Finalists by David Bell is a classically styled closed-room mystery with the contemporary twist of higher education pressure. The pressure the students and faculty are under is real. Right now, higher-education students would probably participate in the Hunger Games if it meant tuition would be covered. So, it’s not unbelievable that six desperate, high-achieving students would allow themselves to be locked in an old Southern house for eight hours. 

The rules state that, if anyone leaves the house before the allotted timeframe is up, the Hyde scholarship will not be awarded—for this group and for all future groups. 

Then the first student, Milo, the favored front-runner, dies during the written examination. 

The scholarship administrator, Troy, and the final Hyde heir, Nicholas, decide to hold a vote. 

Sydney smiles in a forced way… “He wouldn’t want everyone else to stop just because he…well, because he was…you know…”


“Passed away,” Captain Stephenson says.


“Yeah,” Sydney says. “Passed away.” 


Everyone nods, solemn as church deacons.


Nicholas steps forward. “I guess we don’t have to vote, then. We know how everyone feels—”


“I think we should still vote,” I say. “I think it’s important to go on record with what we all think.”


Nicholas takes a step closer to me. He speaks in a low voice that the students no doubt hear. “Are you sure you want to do that?”


“We agreed to take a vote, and I think we should take one. So show of hands. Who wants to stay and finish the second half of the process?”


For a moment, no hands go up. Nobody moves. 


Then Captain Stephenson’s hand goes up. Followed quickly by Nicholas’s. 


Then Natalia, Emily, an dDuffy raise their hands. 


Finally, Sydney lifts hers. And since she has the longest arms of anyone in the room, it looks like she’s almost reaching the ceiling. 


Every eye in the room turns to me. It doesn’t matter. I’m clearly outvoted. But I did say everyone should go on record with what they really think….


It’s simply a no-brainer.


I lift my hand.


The process continues. 

Too much is at stake. Even the mysterious death of one of the finalists isn’t enough to deter the students. Besides, they can’t get a hold of the authorities anyway. Plus, the doors are locked. And the windows are nailed shut. 

What follows is a chaotic tangle of character motivations. Some of the students want to leave, regardless of the consequences. Some of the students can’t afford to leave the scholarship behind. There are debates about what to do with the body. Small teams form among the survivors, only to fracture later. Troy, the administrator, struggles against the tide of student opinion and the pressures on the college. 

Nicholas Hyde, the final heir and ultimate final-say in the awarding of the scholarship, refuses to admit defeat in this, his first leadership role in the scholarship process. Though he seems mostly focused on expensive booze. 

As the day presses forward, the dark history of the Hydes comes burbling up to the present, affecting everyone locked inside the house. When another person dies, the urgency of the moment increases. Even the ones who want to leave can’t. There’s no way to get in touch with the world outside of Hyde House. Distrust and anger split the group, making an already volatile situation worse. 

The Finalists shows the cut-throat world of higher education in a microcosm. Issues such as racism, agism, sexism all roil among the six students, the administrator, and the founders. No one is truly innocent, even the victims. Bell manages to push it all—character motivations, social issues, and the lock-room mystery—to the bursting point.   

Learn More Or Order A Copy


  1. essaywriterIreland

    Besides as it is being mentioned that literary work by expecting the provision with possibilities of engaging thematic storytelling. Thus what reader has in his mind so should get what e has in his mind. thanks

  2. Bape Hoodie

    I Was Eagerly Looking For Content Like This, Right To The Point And Detailed As Well Accordingly Depending Upon The Matter/Topic. You Have Managed This Greatly For Sure. Bape Hoodie

  3. Squid Game Outfits

    This is a really decent site post. Not very numerous individuals would really, the way you simply did. I am truly inspired that there is such a great amount of data about this subject have been revealed and you’ve put worth a valiant effort with so much class. Squid Game Outfits

  4. Dungeons & Dragons Chris Pine Jacket

    Fashion is the thing that you make it – The primary thing you need to comprehend about fashion is that it is just what you make it, that’s it. Dungeons & Dragons Chris Pine Jacket

  5. Taylor Swift Bomber Jacket

    providing you with continuous pain relief. However, the procedure is sluggish. Therefore, even if there may be improved bioavailability, utilising a patch doesn’t guarantee that you will experience the effects of CBD right away.

  6. Lyta Hall Coat

    I love this Rachelle! So smart to have it under the desks. Still accountable but not for all to see. Wonderful!

  7. Mad Hettie Long Coat

    What a simply great idea! LOVE how you have them put them under their desks so others can see. Genius!

  8. Cobra Kai Costume

    Wow! This is a fantastic and helpful post. It’s fantastic. It’s incredible. I’m simply astounded.

  9. Brown Leather Jackets

    Thanks for sharing this with so much of detailed information, its much more to learn from your article. Keep sharing such good stuff.

  10. prp kit suppliers

    Purchase prp kit from one of the top B2B marketplaces, Trade Key, which will connect you with prp kit suppliers for your sole online store.

  11. Aviator Jacket

    An excellent resource for anyone looking to learn more. This lightweight jacket is perfect for the spring season.

  12. Cobra Kai Costume

    Very nice articles. I am really very happy to visit your blog. Now I am found what I actually want.

  13. Golden State jacket

    I am very grateful that I have crossed your site. Your content was very great that I cant stop reading each post that you have. I hope for the best outcome of your site.

  14. Raiders Leather Jacket

    Your post is very thought-provoking, and I’ll be pondering these ideas for a while.

  15. 8 Ball Jacket

    Are you a sports fan? Alternatively, think of performers who enjoy portraying athletes. Or do you like how they look? If so, the Jacketars are here to educate you on the Seinfeld Michael 8 Ball jacket that the majority of actors don.

  16. Mens Brown Leather Jacket

    I appreciate you sharing this informative article since after reading it, I gained a lot of knowledge about this website and other subjects. The best shopping experience with us, however, is also available to you if you click here. In order to benefit from free international delivery, start your purchase right now.

  17. alez

    hi everyone

  18. Red Jacket Men

    The jacket is composed of parachute material, which is ideal for use in snow or rain. Since it is waterproof, stain-resistant, and does not shrink, as well as sturdy and rough, the jacket provides excellent support! It features a smooth viscose lining on the inside and is a must-have for everyone with a good sense of taste and comfort. The Mens Puffer Red Jacket has a hooded collar and a bright red color, making it the finest solution for tough weather!

  19. Hannah Waddingham Height

    Hannah Waddingham is a British actress known for her impressive range and powerful performances on stage and screen. With over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry, Waddingham has become a familiar face to audiences around the world.

  20. Leather Jackets

    The writing in this piece is excellent, and it also contains a lot of useful information. I was impressed by your professional approach to writing this article content. I like how straightforward and understandable you made it.

  21. Gimp Suit

    This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing blog that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free

  22. prescription sun glasses

    Keep up the good work! I appreciate your ability to break down complex concepts and make them easy to understand.

  23. Tilly Nixon

    As a blogger, I appreciate that the fantastic information you provided and the effort you put into it.

  24. Southside Serpents Jacket

    I appreciate you sharing this wonderful information; keep up the good work.

  25. Black Aviator Jacket

    This fit is incredibly adaptable and universally pleasing. Wear your flying jacket over dresses for a more glitzy affair or with jeans and sneakers for relaxed days.

  26. baseball leather jackets

    Top designers and fashionable experts insist that every man and woman should have a stunning moto jacket in their wardrobe. Most people believe it to be the typical leather jacket, making it without any doubt among the most deliver the best.

  27. Wear Ostrich

    Regardless if they are men or women, anybody requires leather clothing. This not only makes you look comfortable, however it also gives you a stylish and elegant look.

  28. Lucy Bradshaw

    Nice post, it is useful for me. It is very informative. Thanks

Comments are closed.

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.