By R.O. Kwon
Riverhead Books, 9780735213890, July 2018, 224pp.
The Short of It:
Misplaced faith can blind anyone.
The Rest of It:
Phoebe and Will meet during their first year at Edwards University. Phoebe comes from money. Will, the opposite, doing his best to keep his scholarship while working part-time. In whatever spare time he has, Will finds himself completely obsessed with Phoebe. When Phoebe is lured into a religious cult by its enigmatic leader, John Leal, Will, puts his judgement aside and joins Phoebe and this cult just to be close to her, which ultimately leads them down a path of no return.
The Incendiaries is short but powerful. Beautiful but destructive. As a reader, you can’t help but sense the underlying unease that is interwoven between each page. Phoebe’s increasing passion alarms Will. Her dedication to a group she knows so little about is at once admirable and terrifying. Their love is fleeting and there is a definite sense that something horrible is about to happen.
This is a dark subject but Kwon delicately dances between the dark and the light. The Incendiaries is very well-balanced and simply told. No fluffy language or extra anything but the story will stay with you after turning that last page.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
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10 thoughts on “Review: The Incendiaries”
I’m fascinated with cults for some strange reason so this really sounds good to me.
I love books that rely on simple language to tell a complex story…it’s so deceptive but good.
I think I’d like this book and may end up reading it.
This sounds good; I find cults quite interesting (not as in I want to join, but as in how do they “get” people to join, etc).
What’s interesting about this story is that you don’t learn much about the cult or its leader. All you see is the effect it has on Phoebe.
I’ve got this one on audio. It sounds good.
I’m not sure what you mean by Phoebe’s “dedication to a group she knows so little about is at once admirable and terrifying”, the irrationality and self-destructiveness of the act seemed pretty self-evident. Though I think there is an interesting line drawn between religion and cult in the book
Admirable, in the sense that in her own head she’s convinced herself that she’s done the right, thing. The reasons behind the act, if you drill down into it, is that she is saving innocent lives. I agree that it was a total act of self destruction because she knew the consequences of such an act.
Right, but I think the primary drive to join the group was the hope of gaining an identity rather than her social conscious or hatred of abortion. She fell into a cult in college in the same way that so many join groups/societies/clubs at an impressionable young age…
I see what you mean. I agree.