Title: The Incendiaries
Author: R. O. Kwon
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publish Date: July 31, 2018
My Rating: 3/5
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.
Will and Phoebe are dating. While their relationship develops, Phoebe also gets involved with an extremist religious group. After the group bombs several abortion clinics, Phoebe disappears.
This story follows three characters – Will, Phoebe, and John. Will and Phoebe meet at college and start dating. John is the leader of a cult that Phoebe gets involved with while she is dating Will. Chapters are divided to distinguish the alternate viewpoints, but it’s a bit deceptive. It is often Will narrating for Phoebe and John, with how he imagines things to be. This didn’t work for me. I was unable to connect with any of the characters, and I was really interested in Phoebe, but her character fell flat.
This is a short novel, but a slow read. This is definitely a character driven story. The action part of the story is known upfront, so the intrigue is in why is Phoebe drawn into the cult. Dark, convoluted, and tragic.