[Percy] demonstrates he’s one of contemporary fiction’s sharper critical minds, an author with a rare talent for explaining his craft. Writers, editors and teachers — they’re among the target audience for Percy’s Thrill Me. But really, this book will appeal to anyone who’s interested in storytelling. And that’s just about all of us.
If that all sounds like a lot of insider baseball, that's because it is. The lit-vs.-genre debate is something that consumes writers, critics, and publishing industry types far more than the average reader, and it's here that Thrill Me threatens to limit its audience. But Percy is smarter than that: He peppers his observations of today's literary scene with homey, witty anecdotes, and he couches his analysis in no-nonsense wisdom ... None of the advice he dishes out is fresh or profound; these are tried-and-true tips about the art of writing that anyone can readily find online or in dozens of how-to books. Where Thrill Me shines is in Percy's ability to write about writing in a conversational way.
Thrills are Percy’s specialty and calling, in case you hadn’t noticed, and a plot that keeps the reader seeking answers is his Holy Grail. His appetite for skillful storytelling is admirably indiscriminatory ... His textual exegesis, that gold standard of literary criticism, is crisp and pithy, serving the essays and their flows and rhythms rather than overwhelming with shows of erudition. The book treads little new ground, but Percy makes style count ... Thrill Me is comprehensive in its scope, touching on most of the important pieces of storycraft from stylistic choices to character development, but in part because it’s just over 170 pages, it simply doesn’t have the space to do more than just that — touch on. It does so with character and vigor, and with a joyful populist tone, but rarely does it delve deep.