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The Exception

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,501 Ratings  ·  208 Reviews
An internationally bestselling thriller, The Exception dissects the nature of evil and the paranoia that drives ordinary people to commit unthinkable acts. Four women work together for a small nonprofit in Copenhagen that disseminates information on genocide. When two of them receive death threats, they immediately believe that they are being stalked by Mirko Zigic, the Se ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Anchor (first published 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,875)
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Nov 27, 2008 karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: table, distant-lands
im frequently torn, when rating books, between rating based on merit, or rating based on my enjoyment. this is probably a three-star book, merit-wise. and yet i got totally sucked into it and really enjoyed it, despite its flaws. its a very well-paced thriller that requires a certain suspension of disbelief but is not terribly flawed. and my desire to finish reading it has made my thanskgiving feast delayed by three hours, so...
As a thriller, The Exception was so so. As a penetrating psychological exposition of evil, The Exception was so so.

This is a story about office politics, at an office comprised of four women with a male in charge (breaking new ground here.) Jungersen's office is a small, governmentally funded nonprofit whose directive is to collect, classify, and disseminate factual, research and scholarly data on global genocide. He staffs this austere organization with characters drawn by means of using all t
Jason Pettus
Aug 30, 2007 Jason Pettus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(The much longer full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

"Ignoring the small flash of doubt in yourself -- that is what evil is. Nobody thinks of himself as evil, but that deception is part of evil's nature. And you can't lie to yourself all the time. Once in awhile, there's that moment when you question if you are doing the right thing. And that's your only chance to choose what is good, to do the right thing. And the moment lasts maybe f
Jan 06, 2016 Bandit rated it it was amazing
What a book. The sort of book you walk away from disoriented. It isn't just physically heavy at 512 pages (though weightless on Kindle), it's also heavy in every other sense of the word. Such a deceptively simple story about inner strife of a small office spun into such a powerhouse of psychological suspense. Four women working in a center for information on genocide turn their lives into a Sartre style nightmare, subtly, slowly turning their office and personal lives into a psychological battle ...more
Jim Coughenour
Aug 15, 2008 Jim Coughenour rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: cheerful people
Normally, if a book hasn't engaged me in the first 50 pages, I'll set it aside. Life's too short for bad books. I don't know why, exactly, I made an exception for The Exception. The first 400 of its 500 pages embeds you in the inner life of four pathetic, slightly deranged women who all work in the same office – all of whom are obsessed with the tedious minutiae of their work life. Toward the end the story shifts into an awful parody of a late-night TV police serial, complete with hideous cartoo ...more
Oct 23, 2010 Meave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meave by: everyone!
Sometimes, characters in fully formed television worlds watch their own television, which is a device to comment on the events in the television show, and on the television show itself; you know, meta-TV. This book uses articles about genocide as the TV show inside the TV show, to comment on and help explain the actions in the novel, which is set in the fictional Danish Center for Information on Genocide.

The narrative is almost exclusively third-person limited, but it alternates between the empl
This is a top-notch, meaty psychological thriller that takes you inside a small office dedicated to research into genocide. There, the five office workers simultaneously dig into the very nature of evil as they study the most inhumane acts ever perpetrated, while they quietly destroy each other's lives with office politics and interpersonal bullying. Buried not-so-deep beneath the surface of even the seemingly closest friendships and politest collegiality apparently lurks seething resentments th ...more
Jun 26, 2008 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readingforschool
Note to author: Most women do not act like those really awful 13-year-olds you encountered in middle school. Get over it.
I was assigned this book by my adviser for an independent study. All I had to do was read it - not write anything, and I was happy about that. However, now that I'm not required to do any more academic writing, and no one is really "listening," I feel compelled to put in my two cents. I know - ironic.

In short, I am NOT a fan of this book. The basic premise is interestin
Aug 12, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First I could not put it a day later I finished all 500 pages and can't stop thinking about it. A great read....not a comfortable read, but well worth it. Not an easy subject...but a very satisfying read. How many times do we think we are so "right" when our actions indicate otherwise?
Mar 01, 2009 julie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 17, 2015 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, favorites
For me personally, this is a 5 star book, though it is not a book I would recommend to just anyone. Subject matter can at times be harsh.
I would lump this in a Secret History/The Likeness/Natsuo Kirino's Out category. The category of a "normal" or good person doing evil things and how that manifests within them. This was a very slow book to start and patience will win out. There are some very tense parts of the book and at times I felt there were some very Hitchcock like moments. The slow simmer
Jan 27, 2008 Jess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a good psychological drama
Anytime I try to describe this, it comes off sounding boring or depressing. While it's not a light book, and I wouldn't describe it as a page-turner, either, it was gripping and I could easily read it for an hour or two at a time, only putting it down and turning off the light when my eyes started to hurt. It was, bizarrely, a perfect accompaniment to the library management class I'm taking - but please don't interpret that as meaning it's boring. The management class is dull, but not this book. ...more
Sep 25, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: aficionados of denmark, genocide
Being as it's very educational for a novel, this book depressed the fuck out of me, and my view of humanity still has not fully recovered from reading it. The best parts were the sections on actual genocide, and the actual story and characters took awhile to engage me, but they eventually did. It's interesting to learn about the calm, stoic Danish people and their way of life, which evidently involves Scandinavian furniture, a terrible job market, being stalked by Serbian war criminals, and quie ...more
I found this book to be quite riveting and thought provoking. Set in Denmark, it explores the relationship between four women who work at the Danish Center for Information on Genocide. When two of the women receive death threats the office is thrown into turmoil. The subject matter was quite dark but by shifting the narrative among the various character's points of view the suspense was sustained throughout the entire 500 pages.
Nicolaj Christiansen
En interessant krimi, der er godt båret af beskrivelser af, og refleksioner over diverse eksperimenter med ondskaben som omdrejningspunkt.

Jeg læser normalt ikke krimier, men med den vellykkede videnskabelige tilgang, lykkes det for Jungersen at kompensere for de steder hvor jeg følte der blev fortalt eller udpenslet for meget. Første halvdel virkede langtrukken på mig, mens anden halvdel var anderledes intens og medrivende. De sidste kapitler var så spændende, at jeg svært kunne lægge bogen fra
Barbara Rhine
May 07, 2014 Barbara Rhine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Exception, by Christian Jungerson, on the other hand, is oddly compelling for the opposite reason. Set in the nonprofit Danish Center for Information on Genocide (DCIG), the book is about the surprisingly cut-throat competition among the women scholars who work there. There are threats from a mysterious and deadly source, and the women spend a lot of time suspecting one another. Two women bully a third, pretty much just because they don’t like her. One woman, apparently happily-married, has ...more
Mardel Fehrenbach
Nov 02, 2008 Mardel Fehrenbach rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, fascinating, probably somewhat controversial, and certainly unnerving novel. Some of the clunkiness of the prose may be due to the translation. It is a gripping story of good and evil, of interpersonal politics, and how even being " a good person" and "doing the right thing" does not necessarily protect you from the evil within. Little evils often add up to something bigger, and the convoluted story line and petty office politics have enough realism to ring true. The real horror of ...more
Dec 13, 2008 Rebecca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Christian Jungersen’s The Exception is a gripping psychological thriller that dissects the perversions of human nature with a scalpel. Stitched into the narrative are studies on the nature of evil and accounts of real historical genocide, documenting patterns of savagery and entitlement that Jungersen then deftly reproduces in his characters. A recipient of the Danish Radio and Golden Laurels Prizes, nominee of literary awards throughout Europe, and New York Times Editor’s Pick, The Exception is ...more
Christian Jungersen's book has been much talked about here in Denmark. It seems like everybody has read it and most people have loved it as well. I finally got around to reading it, and while I was well entertained while reading it, it wasn't as good as I expected it to be.
Undtagelsen (The Exception) is about four women working together at the Danish Centre for Genocide Information. The two youngest women, Iben and Malene, are old friends and they are in charge of the office, leaving the two old
David Gross
Feb 24, 2009 David Gross rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ethics, fiction
It’s got a lot going for it. You know early on that it is going to be making brutal office politics a microcosm reflecting elements of large-scale genocidal outrages. The office in question being a center for genocide studies allows for parallels to be drawn pretty explicitly.

This could get heavy-handed, but Christian Jungersen does a pretty good job keeping it interesting and poignant without drumming it in too harshly.

And the office politics bullying is done with a keen eye. I got the same sor
Polly Whitehorn
Apr 17, 2016 Polly Whitehorn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was an extraordinary story. Firstly it is a workplace mystery addressing daily conflicts that bubble up and get progressively more disturbing. The story is told from each of the colleagues' voice so it quickly becomes apparent that there are some very complex psychological issues here. All of this takes place at a respected NGO that researches and catalogues genocide data.
As I was reading this I kept thinking how well do we really know our workplace colleagues.
Lars Jensen
Apr 04, 2013 Lars Jensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bogen når ind til ondskabens væsen og holder spændingen hele vejen igennem uden de store armbevægelser.
"Ondskabens ansigt var ikke dæmoni og vildt had, det var et middelmådigt meneske der mest af alt tænkte på at fremme sin karriere i en bureaukratisk organisation." (s. 321)
Hvad eller hvem er undtagelsen? Findes der undtagelser, når det handler om menneskers ondskab?
Det lykkes Christian Jungersen at forklare en hel masse ved blot at vise alting gennem replik og handling. Selv essayene er replikk
Jan 24, 2016 Heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tami Spence
It was really hard to get into this book because I found the writing to be very uninteresting (which could partly be the translation). But the more I read, the more intrigued I became by the psychology of it. It picked up speed very gradually until suddenly I realized I was completely absorbed by it. The questions it brings up are fascinating and make it worth sticking with the more mundane sections.
Jul 29, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is an amazing book and really digs deep into the relationships of women that work together -- both the good and the bad. I would say that it gets about 70 percent of the dynamic right, and then 20 percent is off is due to the need to dramatize the situation to make a good book, and then 10 percent compeltly misses the way women interact.
Ken Fredette
Feb 03, 2012 Ken Fredette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Talk about twists, this book continually had them. You wondered about them and then something would change your opinion. This was a well thought out mystery. I'd talk about it but would give it away. Let's just say that the last 100 pages were fabulous, I couldn't put the book down.
Feb 01, 2016 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ideas, humanity
I love novels that explore ideas and this book delivers much to ponder on how genocides occur - what turns ordinary people into mass killers. The characters in the novel work at a small Danish Institute on Genocide. The novel itself is a really gripping psychological thriller - each of the four main characters shift between allies and protagonists, each wrestle with their own psychological demons. I kept changing my ideas about who was the villain. The level of tension the author maintained thro ...more
Apr 30, 2014 Sheri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tough book to put down. It's "mean girls" grown up and working in an office together. Except it isn't any ordinary office, it's the Danish office for research & investigation of genocide. So these are supposed to be nice people, right? The psychological impact of the office bullying goes thermonuclear when the women working there start getting emails that threaten their lives. They've just published a report about genocide in Serbia that names names, and this raises the possibility that th ...more
Aug 11, 2008 Vicky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An unusual story with the elemets of a triller, intresting for people working in libraries, research or academia. Where is evil in our lives, who is evil, on how we see ourselves, there is a lot of thought-provoking material.
May 21, 2016 Sandy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Exception is marketed as a Danish thriller about office workers in a fictional non-profit that disseminates information about genocide. When two of them receive threatening emails, a Bosnian war criminal is first suspected. Then they begin to suspect one another. Paranoia and obsessive behavior ensues. Unfortunately, the last quarter of the book evolves into nothing more than a boring chase scene. The ending and motivation for the emails and subsequent events is preposterous.

However, there
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Christian Jungersen is a Danish author now resident in Dublin, Ireland, and New York City. He is the author of three prize-winning and bestselling novels.
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“We let rip with idealism and grand words, but it's nothing but rationalizations of our own egoistic behavior. Not only do we lie to others; we also lie to ourselves. Each one of us lives inside a house of mirrors -- our own instinctive self-righteousness distorts the way we view reality so that we can justify our actions to ourselves. And there's no way we can escape.” 3 likes
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