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The Incendiaries: A Novel de R. O. Kwon
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The Incendiaries: A Novel (2018 original; edició 2018)

de R. O. Kwon (Autor)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
5083435,553 (3.45)26
"Religion, politics, and love collide in this slim but powerful novel reminiscent of Donna Tartt's The Secret History, with menace and mystery lurking in every corner." --People Magazine "The most buzzed-about debut of the summer, as it should be...unusual and enticing ... The Incendiaries arrives at precisely the right moment." --The Washington Post "Radiant...A dark, absorbing story of how first love can be as intoxicating and dangerous as religious fundamentalism." --New York Times Book Review A powerful, darkly glittering novel of violence, love, faith, and loss, as a young woman at an elite American university is drawn into a cult's acts of terrorism. Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall meet in their first month at prestigious Edwards University. Phoebe is a glamorous girl who doesn't tell anyone she blames herself for her mother's recent death. Will is a misfit scholarship boy who transfers to Edwards from Bible college, waiting tables to get by. What he knows for sure is that he loves Phoebe. Grieving and guilt-ridden, Phoebe is drawn into a secretive cult founded by a charismatic former student with an enigmatic past. When the group commits a violent act in the name of faith, Will finds himself struggling to confront a new version of the fanaticism he's worked so hard to escape. Haunting and intense, The Incendiaries is a fractured love story that explores what can befall those who lose what they love most.… (més)
Membre:kavyum
Títol:The Incendiaries: A Novel
Autors:R. O. Kwon (Autor)
Informació:Riverhead Books (2018), Edition: First Edition, 224 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:
Etiquetes:to-read

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The incendiaries de R. O. Kwon (2018)

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» Mira també 26 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 34 (següent | mostra-les totes)
The setting: Edwards College, in the fictional town of Noxhurst on the River Hudson, in an unspecified year some time after 2001. The main characters: John Leal, once a prisoner at a North Korean gulag, now the charismatic leader of a Christian cult of hand-picked followers; Phoebe, a lapsed Korean-American piano prodigy and a student with a penchant for party-going who, unexpectedly, falls under Leal’s spell; Will Kendall, her boyfriend, who has enrolled at Edwards from Bible college after losing his strong Evangelical faith.

The novel turns the narrative on its head, presenting us at the very start with the most momentous episode in the story, a terrorist attack in which Phoebe is clearly implicated. We’re told that “Buildings fell. People died.” Will, shocked, tries to understand what could have led to all this.

As plots go, there’s little else of import apart from what the blurbs and the above brief summary reveals. In some aspects, the novel is stingy with narrative details. To be honest, the underlying themes of “The Incendiaries” are not exactly new, either. The “student on the fringe” who doubles as narrator is a recurring trope in college fiction, as is the “crush on the popular girl” – think of Donna Tartt’s [b:The Secret History|29044|The Secret History|Donna Tartt|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1451554846s/29044.jpg|221359], or [b:The Virgins|17214288|The Virgins|Pamela Erens|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1360650549s/17214288.jpg|23697951] by Pamela Erens. Even the central image of the “God-shaped hole”, which Will repeats through the narrative as a symbol of his loss of faith, is not exactly original – attributed to Salman Rushdie, it’s an evocative metaphor which has since been regularly quoted and misquoted.

Yet, the praise for this debut is justified. Indeed, I felt that Kwon has managed to assemble a bunch of commonplaces and turn them into a gripping, thought-provoking book which is also, palpably, “hers”.

Take its deceptively simple structure. The novel is split into forty short chapters, in which the narrative voice alternates between Will, Phoebe and Leal, making the novel compulsively readable. Soon, however, we realise that, in fact, there is but one narrator – Will – who, in an exercise of imaginative empathy, tries to give voice to the other characters. This might explain why the chapters on the enigmatic Leal are the shortest. Phoebe’s are partly based on a private journal which Will gets his hands on and are, as a result, longer and more detailed. But can we really trust Phoebe’s narrative as mediated through her lover?

Will, in fact, is the classic unreliable narrator. He has a love-hate relationship with the faith he has lost. He still thirsts for it, and yet is ashamed of his evangelising years and, by association, of his upbringing and his past. Will has no compunction about lying as a means to reinventing himself. He admits at one stage "I wish I hadn’t lied to you Phoebe, but with anyone else, if the option came up, I’d do it again". If Will takes pains to hide his past, can we be sure about his portrait of Phoebe? Are his motives as honourable as he makes them out to be? These are just a few the many doubts which Kwon tantalisingly raises for us to try and address.

More challengingly, the novel asks questions which go beyond the narrative. Jejah, Leal’s group is first presented as just another Christian religious gathering and only later is it explicitly described as a “cult”. Will, wary of religion and pained at his loss of faith, does not really distinguish between ‘mainstream’ religious movements and ‘cults’ – his anger seems to be equally directed against the two. But the novel, at the same time, does imply that there is a difference, albeit one which can, at times, be tenuous indeed. Significantly, in “The Incendiaries”, there seems to be an underlying comparison between love and religion/faith, with the extremism of cults finding a parallel in the excessive possessiveness which can taint first loves. The final chapters even suggest that Phoebe might be a personification of the faith Will has lost – a reading which would add a symbolical layer to the novel.

Kwon has stated that she was raised as a Roman Catholic and that, like Will, she is still, despite herself, grieving for the beliefs she has since abandoned – perhaps giving credence to Cordelia’s (rueful?) statement in “Brideshead Revisited” that “once a Catholic, always a Catholic”. The Incendiaries can, in fact, be read as a meditation on faith – its comforts and its challenges, its fruits and its dangers, its allure and its loss. At the heart of this novel is a cult with a warped expression of religion. Yet I have no qualms about considering “The Incendiaries” as a religious novel. Nor about recommending it to fellow readers, whether believers, non-believers or in-between.

Read more at http://endsoftheword.blogspot.com/2018/08/losing-ones-religion-incendiaries-by-r... ( )
  JosephCamilleri | Mar 5, 2021 |
This was an interesting premise, but the narration style and split perspectives didn't quite work for me. The ending also petered out a bit, and I felt a bit underwhelmed. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
The Incendiaries focuses on Will, a born-again Christian turned atheist and Phoebe, a lively party girl. They both harbor guilt about things in their past. Will helped convert his mother to a faith he no longer believes in and Phoebe blames herself for her mother’s death. When Phoebe is slowly drawn into a cult, Will tries his best to save her.

The Incendiaries was this month’s pick for my Moms group book club. We all agreed that the way the book started off is confusing. I got about 30 pages in and realized that I needed to start over. Once I reread the first 30 pages, I had a much better handle on what was going on. There are no quotation marks in the book, a device that I’m never fond of. Much of the book is Will speculating what Phoebe says in her confessions at cult meetings, making him an unreliable narrator at times.

Lack of quotation marks aside, I did enjoy this book. It explores loss in ways I hadn’t thought of previously. Not only is Phoebe mourning the loss of her mother, Will is mourning the loss of his religion. He’s sad that he doesn’t believe anymore. And I’m always intrigued by how a rational person can be drawn into and overtaken by a cult. Even though this is a slim novel at just over 200 pages, we found a lot to discuss in our book club meeting. Recommended. ( )
  mcelhra | Nov 25, 2020 |
Will, after losing his faith and leaving a bible college, transfers to an eastern U.S. university. There, he meets and becomes obsessed with Phoebe, a previous child piano prodigy who is still dealing with the demons of losing her mother. When Phoebe becomes involved in a religious cult as a way to make peace with herself and find answers, Will tries to intervene and save her from self-destruction and a fateful event.

The plot summary of this book sounded really intriguing to me, and as a fairly short novel, it was a quick read. But I found that I could never really connect with this book -- not with the characters, the plot, or the writing style. The changing points of view were somewhat confusing and overall, it was just a depressing read. I think I understand the point that the author was trying to express, but it just missed the mark for me. ( )
  indygo88 | Nov 24, 2020 |
3.5 I think I need to read this again. Its shifting perspective keeps the reader at a little distance and there are some really clever, thoughtful, intense observations about faith and relationships. It takes place on a east coast college campus, the fictional, picturesque, private and wealthy Edwards, in the town of Noxhurst. Will Kendall is a sophomore transfer trying to fit it, but struggling mightily - out of his element from CA and growing up poor. He meets Phoebe Lin at a party - she reminds me of Daisy Buchanan from the Great Gatsby -- everyone loves her, but she is unhappy and careless. Will falls for her right away, and he is novel enough to attract her interest too. They become a couple. Here's where things triangulate: enter John Leal who has chapters devoted to him, but never speaks for himself. He is a charismatic leader of Jejah ("disciple" in Korean) and with loose ties to her preacher father, he begins to recruit Phoebe to what is essentially a cult. The story is richly layered which brings everyone's motives and the outcome into question. For example, Will has recently had a crisis of faith and no longer believes in God. His freshman year was spent at a small Bible college, but he could not get far enough away, transferring to Edwards sight unseen. Phoebe has a tragedy in her past, but she refuses to confront it until John Leal's influence begins to work on her. This is a small, spare book, but has a lot of depth and complication to it. Things escalate as Phoebe gets more into Jejah and farther from Will, despite his attempts to join with her. It's hard to determine if some of their bad choices are the result of their young age or if they are just flawed characters, but I found myself switching between sympathy and frustration. Definitely worth a read, if not two! ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 34 (següent | mostra-les totes)
The Incendiaries is a book of careful feints – the emphases in the story never fall where you expect, but Kwon is always in total control.
 
The stylish writing and interesting subject matter are lost in a plodding narrative that feels like a paint-by-numbers attempt at Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.
 
Religious extremism, race, college rape, casual misogyny, North Korea, and abortion are all here in just over 200 pages. The sheer density of hot-button concerns could easily feel sensational, but the text’s immediacy feels effortless and necessary.
 
Big themes of religion, identity, and death swirl through the pages of The Incendiaries, but Kwon keeps her narrative grounded in the very human experiences of the young couple.
 
Its eerie, sombre power is more a product of what it doesn’t explain than of what it does. It’s the rare depiction of belief that doesn’t kill the thing it aspires to by trying too hard.
 
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They'd have gathered on a rooftop in Noxhurst to watch the explosion.
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"Religion, politics, and love collide in this slim but powerful novel reminiscent of Donna Tartt's The Secret History, with menace and mystery lurking in every corner." --People Magazine "The most buzzed-about debut of the summer, as it should be...unusual and enticing ... The Incendiaries arrives at precisely the right moment." --The Washington Post "Radiant...A dark, absorbing story of how first love can be as intoxicating and dangerous as religious fundamentalism." --New York Times Book Review A powerful, darkly glittering novel of violence, love, faith, and loss, as a young woman at an elite American university is drawn into a cult's acts of terrorism. Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall meet in their first month at prestigious Edwards University. Phoebe is a glamorous girl who doesn't tell anyone she blames herself for her mother's recent death. Will is a misfit scholarship boy who transfers to Edwards from Bible college, waiting tables to get by. What he knows for sure is that he loves Phoebe. Grieving and guilt-ridden, Phoebe is drawn into a secretive cult founded by a charismatic former student with an enigmatic past. When the group commits a violent act in the name of faith, Will finds himself struggling to confront a new version of the fanaticism he's worked so hard to escape. Haunting and intense, The Incendiaries is a fractured love story that explores what can befall those who lose what they love most.

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