• R E V I E W •
The Radicals is one of those novels that is so well-written you feel as though you have to love it. Ryan McIlvain is spectacular at his craft which makes the book very easy to read and understand. His writing is so focused and clean, I knew within the first few pages that the execution of the novel was going to be on point.
Yet, I didn’t love it.
I understand why people find love in poetry, I, however, am not one of those people. There are random drops of prose throughout the novel and it was very pointless to me. I ended up skipping right over most of them.
Also, I’m a character loving fool. I’ll admit it. I have to at least like one character, otherwise, my interest in their outcome, and often the story’s outcome is lost. While funny at times, Eli is insanely indecisive which was something that grated on me throughout the novel. He and Sam make a lot of really childish decision which didn’t make sense to me given their age and background.
Overall I liked the book. I wanted to love it, I did, but there were too many things the characters did that annoyed me.
Grab your copy!
book • details
When Eli first meets Sam Westergard, he is dazzled by his new friend’s charisma, energy, and determined passion. Both graduate students in New York City, the two young men bond over their idealism, their love of poetry, and their commitment to socialism, both in theory and practice—this last taking the form of an organized protest against Soline, a giant energy company that has speculated away the jobs and savings of thousands. As an Occupy-like group begins to coalesce around him, Eli realizes that some of his fellow intellectuals are more deeply—and dangerously—devoted to the cause than others. One such true believer is Alex, Eli’s ex-girlfriend and eventually Sam’s lover, who pushes the group toward a more “active” posture, complicating Sam and Eli’s friendship as well as Eli’s relationship with his fiancé Jen, a musician who is more and more skeptical of the group’s radicalism. When Sam and Eli begin to pursue the ex-CEO of Soline personally, what was once a mere academic debate becomes violently real.
A fiercely intelligent, wonderfully human illustration of friendship, empathy, and suspicion in the midst of political upheaval, Ryan McIlvain’s new novel confirms him as one of the most talented and distinctive writers at work today.