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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn

So I finished The Smaller Evil over the weekend and I'm just not sure what to think.  On one hand I enjoyed it because it was a book that keeps you thinking and keeps you guessing.  Something terrible has happened and Arman is trying to figure out what exactly it is.  Was he responsible?  Did he imagine the whole thing?  Is there a much bigger and more sinister plan going on? 

I like books that want you to try and figure out the puzzle, but there was something about this one that just didn't stick with me.  There were moments that I didn't want to put it down, but the overall experience just left me kind of indifferent. 

From Amazon:

Sometimes the greater good requires the smaller evil.

17-year-old Arman Dukoff can't remember life without anxiety and chronic illness when he arrives at an expensive self-help retreat in the remote hills of Big Sur. He’s taken a huge risk—and two-thousand dollars from his meth-head stepfather—for a chance to "evolve," as Beau, the retreat leader, says.

Beau is complicated. A father figure? A cult leader? A con man? Arman's not sure, but more than anyone he's ever met, Beau makes Arman feel something other than what he usually feels—worthless.

The retreat compound is secluded in coastal California mountains among towering redwoods, and when the iron gates close behind him, Arman believes for a moment that he can get better. But the program is a blur of jargon, bizarre rituals, and incomprehensible encounters with a beautiful girl. Arman is certain he's failing everything. But Beau disagrees; he thinks Arman has a bright future—though he never says at what.

And then, in an instant Arman can't believe or totally recall, Beau is gone. Suicide? Or murder? Arman was the only witness and now the compound is getting tense. And maybe dangerous.

As the mysteries and paradoxes multiply and the hints become accusations, Arman must rely on the person he's always trusted the least: himself.