The Smaller Evil
17-year-old Arman Dukoff is struggling with severe anxiety and a history of self-loathing 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.
The only lies are the ones you tell yourself.
That you’re a good person.
That you’re doing what’s best.
I actually can't rate this bizarre little book.
At first, I opted for the standard noncommittal three stars. But honestly, there isn't a star rating for this book. Maybe there would be if I was sure what the hell just happened. What did I just read?!
Kuehn is known for writing outside the box, and I like that. I like her weirdass mystery/thrillers that play with memories an ...more
Holy crap on a cracker! What did I just read? This book is off the chain. I don't even know what the end of the book meant! Lol, someone else read it and tell me what happened!
There is this poor dude named Arman who is taken in by a man named Beau. He talks him into coming on some retreat thing along with some other kids. They end up at this bizarre place where there are more bizarre people. Young, old, naked, clothed.
Arman tries to leave and some weird stuff goes down and he thinks Beau is de ...more
Basically seventeen year old Arman, riddled with anxiety, is headed to a secluded self-help retreat with a couple peers all drawn to the experience by Beau, the retreat leader. Arman is charmed by Beau in this weird father figure type way. The retreat itself is odd with peculiar individuals. It all doesn't ...more
The story is basically about Arman going to a cult/scam retreat. I' ...more
Arman's taking part in a "retreat" of sorts, though it's not quite what it seems. . . and Arman himself isn't quite who he seems. At the core, this is a book about systems and about relationships, and about the ways we value and push people toward independence, even when they aren't ready . . . and even if they don't need to be.
A complex, philosophical novel. I am and I am ...more
I feel awful for DNF'ing this, especially since I never usually DNF books.
I loved Kuehn's other books (so check them out instead! I really liked Complicit and Charm & Strange but please research TW's before picking them up) but this one feels like too much of a wide miss for me.
Why I DNF'd this book
- I am just... not enjoying this at all. And I am getting the feeling that I won't enjoy it later. (I don't usually get this feeling either? So I'm following my intuition.)
- I was halfway thro ...more
Arman is a seventeen-year-old who has anxiety issues and hates himself, so he goes to this weeklong retreat in Big Sur with two of his friends, Dale and Kira. Beau is the leader and Arman seems to idolize him. The ...more
That's the thing about seeking hope and clarity, freedom and well-being. None of us are immune to kindess or flattery or admiration. None of us can resist the sway of charisma. But there's power in helping others believe they can.
This book was weird. And that's/> ...more
What even what this book? It was kind of bizarre but for me personally, not in a good way. The book revolves largely (or really, entirely) in and around a cult (although the word isn't really specifically used, that's how it came off to me) and it was just kind of weird to read.
Things got interesting about a third of the way in and then they fizzled back out to just plain strange. I was hoping it was going to keep venturing toward mystery/thriller and while I ...more
I went to look at some reviews after considering whether I should DNF or not, and based on what I am seeing, most people seem to not understand the ending, and some are even blaming themselves. To me, that is not a reader problem ...more
I did the audiobook and wasn't a huge fan of the narrators.
I made it about as far as the completely random and unnecessarily explicit rape scene then I noped my way out of there. Looking at other reviews leads me to believe that this book just gets more nonsensical as it goes along and the ending is completely ambiguous so yeah, the only reason I'd keep reading this would be to see if the mystery explained. No thanks. Bye.
Arman is a young man struggling with a lot of inner turmoil. He deals with anxiety, depression, and self-loathing among other things. His story starts when he meets Beau, an enigmatic man who offers the sanctity of a compound dedicated to healing. This is Arman’s chance to change… to evolve…Everything begins to unravel around Arman and instead of facing the positive changes he hopes to encounter he comes face to face with a smaller evil within the compound. I honestly/>Arman/>4.5 ...more
Literally no idea, guys. I am so confused right now. I finished this last night (well, technically early this morning, but shh), and I figured I'd think about it for a bit before writing down my thoughts. But then I realized that I don't really have any quality thoughts because I have no idea what just happened.
I really enjoyed Stephanie's Delicate Monsters last year- even though it too had some definite strangeness, I was veryStephanie's have no ...more
I thought this would be interesting. There's this kid, Arman, I think he's 17, and he's just stolen his step-father's ill-gotten money in order to pay for a stay at a self-dis ...more
Arman is kind of an outcast. He doesn’t fit in, he’s on all kinds of medications for ADD and anxiety whatnot. He meets this guy, Beau, who invites him to a “retreat”. A couple of sort-of friends come along as well, but otherwise it’s mostly old people.
Then Beau is murdered. Or kills himself. Or maybe he didn’t and Arman is just crazy. Now we spend half the book not sure what is real an ...more
DNF. I might get back to it again in the future.
First, I don't know if I understand the story. I don't know if this was intended by the author, although it does seem like it. Second, despite the slow pacing, the story is intriguing because of its characters. I think this book isn't recommended for everybody, not unless they have read Kuehn's works. Even if I've read Delicate Monsters and Charm & Strange, I don't think it was enough to prepare me ...more
That said, Kuehn’s novels are too smart for me. Like, I actually do not understand what happened at the end. Well, actually, that’s not quite true. I think I mostly understand the ending, but I don’t really get what I’m supposed to take away from it. Basi ...more
Arman and two acquaintances from school attend Evolve, a retreat for realizing one's potential (a cult). His history of anxiety and self doubt and is surprised when Beau, the not-so-charismatic leader sees him as special.
I'm normally a big fan of Stephanie Kuehn, but THE SMALLER EVIL wasn't for me. I had a hard time following the plot, wondering was what real and wha ...more
Passions of mine include mental health advocacy, social justice, and sports of all kinds. I currently live in Northern California with my family and our wild menagerie of pets. CHARM & STRANGE and COMPLIC ...more