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BOOK REVIEW: Son of Destruction by Kit Reed

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Dan Carteret is determined to solve the mystery of his father’s identity. But he discovers a lot more than that when his pursuit takes him to his mother’s secret-riddled hometown.


PROS: Makes the familiar strange and the strange inseparable from the familiar; weaves multiple perspectives and narratives together powerfully with wonderful variations of texture and access to characters; full of insights great and small about the human condition.
CONS: Slow start; occasional fumbles in the narrative.
BOTTOM LINE: Pushes genre AND literary conventions aside and digs deeply into the wonderful and petty compulsions and practices that make us human.

“The Fort Jude way is a little miracle of denial.”

I am a great admirer of Kit Reed’s short fiction, and I was eager to dig into her latest novel Son of Destruction. As I began to read, however, I became a little discouraged; the opening was slower and less pointed than I had come to expect from her, and its framing of what was to come felt a little banal. What I realized as I got deeper into the novel was that this was a subtler start than I usually find in her short fiction because it sets the reader up for the textual jabs and haymakers that would soon rain down, sometimes unpredictably, on the imagination. If that seems an odd characterization, it is because Son of Destruction is more complicated, knowing, and sometimes weird because of that mixture. What Reed produces is in the novel is simultaneously a tangle of human lives and a desperate orchestration of those lives as individuals struggle with loneliness, disappointment, and the ongoing costs of keeping secrets both terrible and trivial to maintain a veneer of neighborliness and belonging.

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