The Incendiaries

By R.O. Kwon,

Book cover of The Incendiaries

Book description

'R. O. Kwon is the real deal' LAUREN GROFF

'Absolutely electric . . . Everyone should read this book' GARTH GREENWELL

'Every explosive requires a fuse. That's R. O. Kwon's novel, a straight, slow-burning fuse' VIET THANH NGUYEN

'In dazzlingly acrobatic prose, R. O. Kwon explores the lines between faith…

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Why read it?

4 authors picked The Incendiaries as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This novel is a masterclass in unreliable narration. It follows Will, a young man estranged from his family and religion, as he attends college and falls in love with Phoebe.

As Will takes over and narrates his recollections of their relationship, Phoebe’s friendship with a man named John Leal, and her inculcation into a religious cult, he becomes increasingly untrustworthy. Will rails against John Leal, his lies, and the damage he has done to Phoebe, revealing his complicity in toxic masculinity and his own harmful actions.

Kwon renders her characters as entirely believable, frightening people, in lyrical and considered prose.

From Jenna's list on abusive and toxic relationships.

Told with lyrical, freewheeling assurance, this campus novel-meets-love story-meets meditation on fanaticism is a short, sharp read that tells the story of Phoebe and Will, whose lives collide and then break apart when Phoebe joins a secretive cult bent on enacting faith-based violence. We spend most of the time in Will’s head, as he carefully recreates the tragic timeline to try to understand Phoebe’s heart and grapple with the long legacy of loss. 

From Emma's list on women trying to survive cults.

This powerful novel involves a young man, Will, who falls in love with a woman named Phoebe in college in Upstate New York. Phoebe is indoctrinated into a religious cult that ends up bombing several buildings, killing five people. Phoebe then disappears, and Will becomes intent on finding her, wanting to figure out her involvement in the terrorist acts. The story’s propulsive and electric, diving into everything from first love to religion to politics. It’s also a personal story. R. O. Kwon herself was, as she phrases it, “a Jesus freak,” though she lost her faith in high school.

Grieving and guilt-ridden, a college student and her reluctant boyfriend are drawn into a secretive fundamentalist cult. For Phoebe Lin, the cult is a place of healing from all that she has lost in her life. When the group commits an act of violence in the name of faith, her boyfriend must grapple with the fanaticism that has claimed his girlfriend. Kwon’s writing is luminous, and the devils in this book are very real. 

From Alisa's list on deals with devils.

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