Phoebe Lin and Will Kendall meet during their first month at a prestigious university. Phoebe doesn’t tell anyone that she blames herself for her mother’s recent death. Will is a misfit scholarship boy who has transferred from Bible college, waiting tables to make ends meet. What he knows for sure is he loves Phoebe.
Haunted by her loss, Phoebe is increasingly drawn into a religious group – a secretive extremist cult – founded by charismatic former student with an enigmatic past involving North Korea and Phoebe’s Korean – American family. Will struggles to confront the obsession consuming the one he loves and the fundamentalism he’s tried to escape. 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 WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO PEOPLE WHO LOSE WHAT THEY LOVE MOST.
Ooh, what to say about this book, a difficult one to review really. Written in a rather abstract and almost poetic manner, which took a bit of getting used to, reminiscent I think of The Vegetarian. Written primarily from Will’s point of view he tells his story from meeting Phoebe, falling in love with her to effectively losing her.
Both Phoebe and Will have experienced loss and disillusionment and while Will tends to be pragmatic, Phoebe is wounded by the loss of her mother and her own guilt that she was to blame. In this way they are both searching, and while Will finds what he needs in Phoebe, for her it is not enough and she becomes immersed in the ‘Jejar’ a religious cult, led by John Leal.
This book was short and once I became used to the writing style it became easier. It was written from several perspectives, with Will telling the main story in the first person, Phoebe and John Leal’s stories are told in the third person and have a vagueness to them.
While I enjoyed and was interested by the plot and themes of this novel – religion, loss, disillusionment, fundamentalism the writing style didn’t work for me, it was overall too abstract and I was left wanting to know more, more detail and fact. Clearly this is a very popular book and highly praised so please don’t be put off by my words! Has anyone else read this, what were your thoughts? Please tell me in the comments.
With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.
As always thank you for reading.