Will and Phoebe find each other and fall in love at college, but Phoebe‘s growing fascination with the enigmatic John Leal and his group of worshippers threatens to be a breaking point in their relationship.
Read September 7-12
⭐️⭐️1/2 This book is hard to review. Her writing style is good, but I don‘t think it‘s my favorite. With some sections in first person and others third, it was difficult to really sink into. I was also frustrated that the book jacket told so much of the story. I did appreciate the exploration of losing and/or gaining faith. Ultimately it left me feeling sad and unsatisfied. Maybe that was the author‘s intension?
A story about how loss (in this case, the death of a loved one) can lead to the seeking out of community (in this case, a cult), which in turn can lead to radicalization. I wouldn't say this the paciest story I've read this year, but I would say it's some of the best prose, and I'm looking forward to more from this author.
This book was not as compelling as I hoped but it has left an image of class, religion and the catalysts to what could lead to violent acts and the power of guilt, pain and the pull of persuasion. I think this is a book you might think about for a while as the characters are more impressions than characters.
This month‘s #under40bookclub pick is a story of college, privilege, obsession, religious fervor, and lies. I loved the technique and narrative style but was underwhelmed by the actual story. If you‘re going to give me a cult I want MORE of the details, not less! Still, at 210 pages I like a gut punch of a book, and this delivers. Definitely lots for a book club discussion.
This felt like the adult version of Looking for Alaska by John Green. I loved the writing style and the ideas the author was playing with, but the characters never felt fully fleshed out and Phoebe specifically was a little too “manic pixie dream girl”. Fast read, so I would still recommend it if you‘re interested. But it lacked some things I was looking for.
Book 5 of my #12booksofsummer challenge is a strange story of a young woman‘s growing involvement in a cult and then domestic terrorism. Some really good quality writing with great turns of phrase and interesting observations on faith, grief and belonging. Even in the first person (which is interestingly slippery at chapter beginnings), the narration is detached and hazy - not a completely good thing. Worth a read but you might forget it.
I can‘t tell if this is weird-brilliant or weird-weird. 🤷🏻♀️ Leaning towards brilliant...
I promise I will give Kwon‘s second novel a read if she learns how to use quotation marks. If lack of these is a deal breaker, then skip this book.
I also recommend reading this in a day or two, totally possible because it pretty short. 3.5⭐️
What is your beef with quotation marks, Kwon?? Hurts the flow so much for me. Sometimes I have no idea when people are talking!!
Ugh. I hate when the writing is beautiful but the story itself is so lacking. I tried to keep an open mind, but I just did not enjoy this one, apart from the sparkling sentences sprinkled throughout. College students take different paths. Religion is a strong theme. I had the #audiobook from #Libby.
I wanted to like this book more than I did. Maybe it was because I listened to the audiobook instead of reading, but it felt like just when the story was just getting started, the book ended. I wasn‘t very interested in Will or John and wished I could have gotten to know Phoebe way better.
I tried to like this book because it seemed like it was in my wheelhouse. There were some very engaging parts but, for the most part, I found the book rather confusing. In the end, I can only give it two stars. But, that‘s just me. Like Anne Bogel always reminds us, “Not every book is for every person, and that‘s OK.“
This intense, brief novel traces the relationship between two university students from very different backgrounds. Will is a former evangelical teen who lost his faith; Phoebe is a party girl whose carefree manner masks personal tragedy. When Phoebe is drawn into the orbit of a charismatic preacher, Will's jealousy battles with his desire to save her, and Phoebe's newfound faith leads her to take actions no one could have anticipated. Haunting.
There were some beautifully crafted sentences in this book. The beginning really had me....by the middle I was confused and wishing for more depth to the characters that I couldn‘t picture clearly. I kept reading in hopes the ending would redeem the flaws, but much like the characters in this book, there was no redemption.
I expected to like more than I did, because at surface level, it ticks a lot of my favourite boxes. The Incendiaries is told in sparse, carefully crafted prose, is driven by exploration into the psyche of its characters, and asks big questions about big ideas like faith and violence. Unfortunately, all this potential was a bit unrealised for me. Kwon is undoubtedly a talented writer, with some interesting and challenging ideas.
Probably not the worst villain, but the first to spring to mind—I was incredibly bored by John Leal in The Incendiaries. For a cult leader, he‘s really not given enough charisma or backstory to make him compelling. #lovehate
I wanted to love this book and I‘m sad I didn‘t. Many people who have the same tastes as me love this book. And I totally rock with the author. I think if I had read it at another point in my life, I would have absolutely rode for it. The writing is beautiful in its own way. The voices are distinct and trippy. It def gets points for Asian-American working class characters and complicated, deep love, and the painful ways we try to find belonging.
My opinion continuously shifted over the course of this slim novel. While there is a lot to unpack about the nature of obsession and religion none of the characters were presented in a way for me to understand WHY the obsessions took root. Perhaps that‘s part of the danger - I wouldn‘t fall for it so why would anyone else? I‘ll be thinking about this one for a long time and R.O. Kwon is immensely talented. 3.75-4 🌟.
1.3.19 This book took me a while to get into and enjoy. The way the story is written and told is odd and different to get used to at first. For the first half of the book I was waiting for something interesting to happen. To be honest I was getting a little bored and almost returned it to the library - but I am SO glad I finished it.
The events that happen towards the end of the book are shocking and heartbreaking, definitely worth the read!
Fourteen books read made December an excellent reading month. Again no 5* reads, but the tagged one came close and the three others were my 4* reads.
With more books read than ever this year, totally based on Litsy 💕, I am looking forward to next year and wish you all a #HappyNewYear 🥂💃💋
Wonderfully melancholy tone with a good mix of hope and optimism. Phoebe‘s descent into a cult seems to mirror Will‘s transition into a lifestyle of drinking, fraternity life, and a career in finance. He clearly perceives her changes, but seems almost blind to his own. Even though both lose their way from where they started you have hope that their positive underlying traits will win out.
This review is for Kwon‘s short story “Legends of the Seoul Dogs” day 23 of the Short Story Advent Calendar about a Korean boy living with his father, a doomsday preacher, in northern California after his mother leaves them. The boy is the master of 2 leonine dogs, golden maned and perfect companions for the boy- perfect protectors. The framework is mythological. Very well told.
Settling in to catch up on my Kindle reading by the light of the Christmas tree at my parents‘ house. I have so many #Libby check outs that have already expired stockpiled on my Kindle that I hope to burn through over the next couple days. I read half of this one last night!
The Incendiaries is an above average audiobook. The story is somewhat difficult to follow in the beginning, but it becomes easier as the story progresses. There's a lot of colorful language in this one, and some of it fits, though there's a few cases where it misses the mark.The narrator of this recording does a respectable job. This author has potential.
Overall rating: 3.72 stars
I never win anything so this is exciting! Can‘t wait to read this? Has anyone read it?
A damaged, grieving narrator looks back, trying to understand what went wrong since his girlfriend met a former student who became a cult leader. While he just turned his back to his former Bible College, she embraces this new form of Christianity. They try to stick together though. He tries to understand. I loved them both - and the book. So sorry it didn‘t make the #ToB shortlist.
(Pic: A rainy German town)
I listened to this book thinking it was going to be about a cult, and it is, but not really. Kwon‘s writing is so beautiful though I got over the fact it was more about a relationship than a cult. It was a quick read and it has really stuck with me since I read it.. lots to think about.
Will is struggling with a loss of faith and transfers from a religious college to a secular one. There, he meets Phoebe and becomes obsessed with her. Meanwhile she gets pulled deeper into a religious cult.
I had a hard time connecting with any of these characters.
My Favorite Books of 2018.
6. The Incendiaries by RO Kwon. If you‘re like me, you will fall in love with the characters in this book and you will have to ask deep, dark questions about what loving them says about you and then you will keep loving them and everything about this book anyway. #BestBooks2018