* LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN FICTION * A NEW YORK TIMES 100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2019 SELECTION * ONE OF TIME’S 10 BEST NOVELS OF THE YEAR * ONE OF WASHINGTON POST’S 50 BEST BOOKS OF 2019 * ONE OF O MAGAZINE’S BEST BOOKS OF 2019 * ONE OF NPR’S BEST BOOKS OF 2019 *
“A profound meditation on the nature of reality…An extraordinary and dazzlingly original work from one of our most gifted and interesting writers.” —EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL, author of Station Eleven
“Phillips is, as always, doing something at once wildly her own and utterly primal. Maybe it doesn't surprise me that the strangest book I've read about motherhood is also the best, but it does thrill me.” —REBECCA MAKKAI, author of The Great Believers
“Spellbinding...both unsettling and irresistible. Phillips manifests the surreal, terrifying, and visceral experience of motherhood.” —DANA SPIOTTA, author of Innocents and Others
“Like parenthood itself, The Need is frightening and maddening and full of dark comedy… Everyday life, here, is both tedious and fascinating, grotesque and lovely, familiar and tremendously strange.” —THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW (EDITORS’ CHOICE)
“[A]n extraordinary writer at her electrifying best.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (STARRED REVIEW)
When Molly, home alone with her two young children, hears footsteps in the living room, she tries to convince herself it’s the sleep deprivation. She’s been hearing things these days. Startling at loud noises. Imagining the worst-case scenario. It’s what mothers do, she knows.
But then the footsteps come again, and she catches a glimpse of movement.
Suddenly Molly finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows far too much about her and her family. As she attempts to protect those she loves most, Molly must also acknowledge her own frailty. Molly slips down an existential rabbit hole where she must confront the dualities of motherhood: the ecstasy and the dread; the languor and the ferocity; the banality and the transcendence as the book hurtles toward a mind-bending conclusion.
In The Need, Helen Phillips has created a subversive, speculative thriller that comes to life through blazing, arresting prose and gorgeous, haunting imagery. Helen Phillips has been anointed as one of the most exciting fiction writers working today, and The Need is a glorious celebration of the bizarre and beautiful nature of our everyday lives.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
From the startling first moments of this haunting story, we were hooked. The Need revolves around Molly, an archeologist and mother of two young children struggling to keep it together after her musician husband leaves for a last-minute gig overseas. After unearthing some sensational objects at her dig site and confronting a masked intruder in her living room, Molly slowly spirals into a fugue state, fueled by fatigue, anxiety, and increasing isolation. Much of the brilliance of Helen Phillips’ stunning novel comes from her ability to capture familiar, relatable life experiences and infuse them with shimmering strangeness and hypnotic dread.
Phillips (The Beautiful Bureaucrat) delivers an unforgettable tour de force that melds nonstop suspense, intriguing speculation, and perfectly crafted prose. While excavating a fossil quarry, paleobotanist Molly Nye and her colleagues find plant fossils unconnected to all previously identified species and random objects a Bible describing God as "she," a toy soldier with a monkey's tail, a Coke bottle with a backwards-tilting logo with odd, seemingly pointless differences from their everyday counterparts. She feels uneasy when news of the Bible draws gawkers to the site, but anxiety is no stranger to Molly; balancing work with her nursing baby and feisty four-year-old, she struggles with "apocalyptic exhaustion" and a constant fear that disaster is about to strike her kids. While her musician husband, David, is performing abroad, real danger arrives in the form of a black-clad intruder, who wears the gold deer mask David gave Molly for her birthday and knows intimate details of Molly's life. As the stranger's mask comes literally and figuratively off en route to a startling conclusion to their confrontation, Molly veers between panic, appeasement, and empathy for an "other" whose story is uncannily like her own except in its tragedies. Structured in brief, sharply focused segments that shift back and forth in time, the novel interrogates the nature of the self, the powers and terrors of parenting, and the illusions of chronology. Yet it's also chock-full of small moments some scary, some tender, some darkly witty that ground its cerebral themes in a sharply observed evocation of motherhood. With its crossover appeal to lovers of thriller, science fiction, and literary fiction, this story showcases an extraordinary writer at her electrifying best.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I can’t even get into this book didn’t know if it was just me but it’s not a book I love!
Such a disappointment. The writing is repetitive, the plot moves incredibly slowly, and the reveal is unsatisfying.