Review: THE INCENDIARIES by R. O. Kwon — #TheIncendiaries


I recently had the pleasure of reading THE INCENDIARIES by R. O. Kwon. I was really impressed by this debut novel of faith, and what happens when devotion to something turns toxic. Kwon’s writing was assured, and her descriptive power never imposed on the flow of the prose–rather it supported it when needed, delivering the kind of devastatingly brilliant, cinematic flourishes that left me with goosebumps. I look forward to reading Kwon’s next work of fiction. For this to be her first novel, I can only imagine what is to come . . .

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Here’s the publisher’s description:

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.