The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon

36679056Title: The Incendiaries

Author: R.O. Kwon

Pub Date: July 2018

My Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

View on Goodreads

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A shocking novel of violence, love, faith, and loss, as a young woman at an elite American university is drawn into acts of domestic terrorism by a cult tied to North Korea.

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Elle, Time, Parade, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, PBS, Vulture, Buzzfeed, BookRiot, PopSugar, Refinery29, Bustle, The Rumpus, Paste, and BBC.

Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall meet 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 increasingly drawn into a religious group—a secretive extremist cult—founded by a charismatic former student, John Leal. He has an enigmatic past that involves North Korea and Phoebe’s Korean American family. Meanwhile, Will struggles to confront the fundamentalism he’s tried to escape, and the obsession consuming the one he loves. When the group bombs several buildings in the name of faith, killing five people, Phoebe disappears. Will devotes himself to finding her, tilting into obsession himself, seeking answers to what happened to Phoebe and if she could have been responsible for this violent act.

The Incendiaries is a fractured love story and a brilliant examination of the minds of extremist terrorists, and of what can happen to people who lose what they love most. who lose what they love most.

What hurts this book is the blurb, it promises so much more than the book can deliver. Many readers will get excited by the promise of the story of cult, terrorism, love, obsession. And we do get this, but the content doesn’t match the package.

The Incendiaries is a subtle, foggy story. The narrative is fractured and leaves a lot to the imagination. It focuses on two main characters dynamic, with an odd addition of mysterious sections from the POV of the cult leader.  And the relationship of those two main characters is the focus of the story, and it’s not even presented in some compelling interesting way. It’s just there, and at one point they join the cult. But we don’t get to read more about the motivations to this action, to the deep feelings that caused the girl to follow the leader, we don’t read about what they get from this arrangement. The terrorism and the search for the girlfriend are just a few last pages of the book when I was already far away from the point of caring for the story.

This book did absolutely nothing for me.

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