Tag Archives: Religion

Review: The Incendiaries

The Incendiaries

The Incendiaries
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.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo
By George Saunders
Random House, 9780812995343, February 2017, 368pp.

The Short of It:

A unique and touching story about the loss of a child and what happens next.

The Rest of It:

Young Willie Lincoln dies at a very young age, leaving his father, President Lincoln and his mother Mary, to grieve over his loss.

But…

Willie’s spirit will not leave the cemetery in which he was interred, accompanied by others who have chosen to do the same. For one reason or another, they can’t seem to move out of this “bardo” into the next life yet they all vow to help young Willie because the thought of an innocent child spending eternity in such a grim place, is too much for these characters to bear.

Lincoln in the Bardo includes some very interesting, and sometimes even playful characters and almost reads like a play except that characters express the thoughts and feelings of other characters instead of themselves which takes a little getting used to. But after that, I found myself completely wrapped-up in the story of this young boy trying to find his way.

Things you should know:

  • You won’t learn much about President Lincoln from this novel.
  • Many of the works cited are fictional.
  • There are a lot of characters (160+)
  • Even though the afterlife is discussed, no one religion is emphasized.
  • You will be Googling for Civil War facts while reading, but I suggest you read first and Google later.
  • It helps to have a basic understanding of the Bardo and what it is.

Lincoln in the Bardo is beautifully written.  I highlighted many sentences and I don’t often do that. The subject matter is somewhat somber but it’s lightened-up by the playfulness of the characters. It’s tragic in that these characters can never correct their mistakes and as a result live forever in regret but it has stayed with me long after finishing it and the image of these spirits spending eternity in the cemetery is haunting. Check out this virtual reality experience to get a feel for what I am talking about:

Go to this page and scroll down to the bottom to view. Once there, click around to explore.

I know some readers are divided over the book but I loved it and my book club had plenty to discuss when we met. I plan to buy a copy as soon as the paperback comes out in February.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.