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Publisher's Summary

Now a National Best Seller

"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.  

©2018 R. O. Kwon (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“A singular version of the campus novel...a story about spiritual uncertainty and about the fierce and undisciplined desire of [Kwon’s] young characters to find something luminous to light their way through their lives.” (NPR’s Fresh Air)  

“Certain literary circles have been buzzing about R.O. Kwon’s The Incendiaries for months. And this slim, intense novel is the rare book that lives up to its pre-publication hype.” (Los Angeles Times)

“[With] a fairy-tale quality reminiscent of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History...[The Incendiaries is] the rare depiction of belief that doesn’t kill the thing it aspires to by trying too hard. It makes a space, and then steps away to let the mystery in.” (The New Yorker)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Diana
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 08-01-18

A beautiful story that sticks with you

I heard some good buzz about this book and the cult theme interested me, but this book runs deeper than that. Being someone who grew out of religion myself, I connected with the one character moving further from religion and the other moving closer to it. There is also their relationship that ebbs and flows as relationships do. The motivations for their actions are as real as any novel I have read in a long time.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Chilling

It will leave you feeling pretty disturbed. What great characters. I heard the author interviewed twice before reading this, and I get what all the buzz was about.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good story zero - monotone reading

I’ve learned over time that equal to the story is the narration- the readers voice-the infection. In this regard the reader made this book a struggle; a flat monotone with zero inflection. I stuck with it and glad I did but as I’ve found with other audible books- the reader distracted from the experience. Thus the review of 3 stars.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Boring

Nothing happens in this book until the very end. Prose for prose sake. A very interesting main character ends exactly where he started.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

average ...........

The Incendiaries is an average audiobook. The story is somewhat difficult to follow in the beginning, but it becomes easier as the story progresses. There's a lot of colorful language in this one, and some of it fits, though there's a few cases where it misses the mark. In the Audible description, People Magazine compares this novel to Donna Tartt's The Secret History, which is one of my favorites. The Incendiaries is not of the same caliber. The narrator of this recording does a respectable job.

Overall rating: 3.72 stars

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting topic but slow

Hard to get into the book at the beginning as you don’t feel much of a connection to the characters. Interesting discussion points and topic but didn’t keep my attention the entire time.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting idea with poetic writing

The idea of this book was intriguing and R.O. Kwon has a beautiful writing style. However, after completing the book, I was left feeling disappointed that the story wasn’t quite finished and that there just wasn’t enough depth to the John Leal character. Overall, a well performed reading and an interesting choice. Just left me wanting.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Probably the worse book I have ever read

I hated every character, the "story" was luke warm at best. This is one of maybe 3 books in my whole life I could not bring myself to finish.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Tedious, dreallike

I listened to this book with a general lack of interest, hoping something would happen that would perk my attention. The characters were flat; I didn't care about any of them, the performance was flat; tended to put me to sleep, and the "story" was vague and dreamy. I couldn't find a direction and finally stopped listening.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful