The Incendiaries

The Incendiaries Review

A powerful, darkly glittering 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.

Title:The Incendiaries

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Roxane

    This novel about a young woman becoming immersed with a cult is beautifully written and full of propulsive tension. Will, as the primary narrator, is a fascinating character. It is clear he sees the w...

  • Jessica Woodbury

    I don't know if I can actually write a review of this book because all of my feelings about it (and there are so many) are extremely personal. My experience with this book is unlikely to be universal,...

  • Elyse

    Intriguing, tragic, odd....Will, (white), no longer believes in God. No longer believes in Christianity. He left his Bible College for Edwards University. He’s struggling with identity.Phoebe ( Kore...

  • Hannah

    I have many thoughts about this book and I am very conflicted about my feelings and my rating. As is customary in such cases, here are my thoughts, first in list form than more elaborated:Pros:- prose...

  • Lou

    I wanted to grab a copy of this book as it sounded so, so good, but I somehow managed to not download it time, and it was archived on NetGalley before I could get it. I knew I still wanted to read it,...

  • Lauren Halster

    "Hip-hop pulsed, rolled. Pale limbs shone." "The room clattered into motion." Inanimate objects verbed. So many inanimate objects did so much verbing. Limbs throbbed. Fingers flew over keyboards. Eyes...

  • Ron Charles

    “The Incendiaries” is a sharp little novel as hard to ignore as a splinter in your eye. You keep blinking at these pages, struggling to bring the story into some comforting focus, convinced you ca...

  • Whispering Stories

    Book Reviewed by Stacey on www.whisperingstories.comThe Incendiaries follows the lives of Will Kendall, Phoebe Lin, and John Leal. The book is written in the third person and in alternating short chap...

  • Emily

    This is an incredibly strong book, but it's also deeply uncomfortable to read.This book follows one character's descent into a cult, told from the perspective of her boyfriend. Kwon does an AMAZING jo...

  • Sarah

    10 out of 5 stars. Wow wow wow are we all discovering a talent in Ms. Kwon. The book is eerie, and unsettling, but also sweet and beautiful... and you read the story from the outside... then all at on...