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The Arrest

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  173 ratings  ·  88 reviews
From the award-winning author of The Feral Detective and Motherless Brooklyn  comes an utterly original postapocalyptic yarn about two siblings, the man that came between them, and a nuclear-powered super car.

The Arrest isn’t post-apocalypse. It isn’t a dystopia. It isn’t a utopia. It’s just what happens when much of what we take for granted—cars, guns, computers, and airp
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 10th 2020 by Ecco
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Average rating 3.34  · 
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 ·  173 ratings  ·  88 reviews

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Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
We tell ourselves stories in order to live.
Their banter felt perfunctory and empty, dress rehearsal for a show that had closed years before.
He’d come wishing to hear the truth beneath the lies, or beneath the stories, the mad pastiche—a recombinant hash of truth and untruth, of exaggeration and invention and translation, of sleight of hand, of this switched for that. The lie that tells the truth.

Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for sending me an ARC of The Arrest in exchang
L.S. Popovich
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-star, american, 2020
After Lethem's recent novel The Feral Detective, I didn't know what to expect. This is an unconventional post-apocalyptic novel. Contrary to the blurb, I would not call it dystopian. Apart from the metafictional antics of its screenwriter main character, it comes alive with humorous anachronisms, some subtle social commentary, stock characters, witty repartee, and most of all, luscious descriptions of a monolithic "supercar" steampunk vehicle, which actually takes up most of the "screen time" of ...more
Jul 22, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was dull. It was really, really dull. The story reads like a first draft jotted down on a napkin, only it's... Not. I should have LOVED it, as its all things I love in a book. It's odd, and I'm a sucker for anything a bit odd. It's a post-apocalyptic story, but quite and introspective, with none of the aplomb of invasions, the terror of zombies or the imminent crises of financial or ecological collapse, although many of those are hinted at. The writing itself is disjointed, pretentious, and ...more
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Dystopia and postapocalypse, two great tastes that taste great together."

The world as we know it ends. For no particular reason, or maybe all of them, everything just stops. In Jonathan Lethem's The Arrest, the why of it is hardly the point. The point is that our world shrinks. Way, way down, to a tiny little sliver of its former glory. Yet, still, those parts of your life you'd rather forget can follow you anywhere. Sometimes, literally. Like tracking you down in a nuclear powered, tunnel bori
Ron Charles
“Some say the world will end in fire,” Robert Frost wrote, “Some say in ice.” But in this era of terrifying dystopias, Jonathan Lethem imagines a kinder, gentler apocalypse: no pandemic laying waste to humanity, no asteroid shattering the Earth, no zombies snacking on us.

In Lethem’s new novel, “The Arrest,” all technology simply grinds to a halt.

Y2K programmed us to fear that such a stoppage would spark worldwide panic. After all, when the power goes out in Don DeLillo’s new novel, “The Silence,
[Won in giveaway. Thank you, Mr Lethem, for making pre-publication copies available.]

I read an UNCORRECTED PROOF. The final printed version (expected publication 10 November 2020) may be slightly or substantially different. Keep this in mind when reading any less-than-positive comments below.

IN SHORT: Hey, this post-Apocalypse isn't so terrib--oh wait, now some a$$hole we used to know just showed up.

PLOT SUMMARY: An apocalyptic A mysterious, slow-happening, never-explained event
Aug 11, 2020 rated it did not like it
The book description was very interesting. What would happen if our cars, airplanes computers etc. stop working. I didn't finish this book. I got lost in the language and the description. It reminded me of some of the less popular Dean Koontz books that describe every detail. I don't enjoy exposition, I want the story to move along. I give this book 1 star because I didn't finish it.
Nov 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid, if ultimately likely unmemorable, curio from Lethem.
This one feels a lot like his early stuff, like GIRL IN LANDSCAPE early, in its brash insistence on being its own thing and damn the torpedoes. It's slight, pulling back when it maybe ought to push forward, but it shouldn't surprise anybody that Lethem isn't interested in traditional apocalypses. He's interested in stories, in inner thoughts, in a weird idea that runs til it can't any longer (not unlike the super-car...) and that's goo
Angus McKeogh
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dystopian novel about the world after “The Arrest” of progress. One of his recent books that I actually enjoyed quite a bit. Before this effort my feeling was that Lethem had stumbled upon a bit of a dry spell and I was doubting his ability to return to prominence.
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's the summer of 2020, I don't need to read a novel about a dystopian world with an uncertain future, I can turn on CNN, or watch a city council meeting about masks. I read this book anyway, because Jonathan Lethem's name is on it (Well, he wrote it. If you wrote his name on 50 Shades of Grey, I probably wouldn't read it.) (No offense 50 Shades fans.) and I was not disappointed.

Something happened to turn off all electrical equipment and break almost all appliances. We don't know what the event
Aug 22, 2020 rated it liked it
** I read an advance reader copy of this book that I won through a Goodreads giveaway. **

This book was really neither good nor bad. It just existed. The writing was a bit pretentious and not what I generally like. The main character had no personality or reason for existing. It was rather like reading the diary of some dull survivor of a not-so-serious apocalypse who had no difficulties and ran into very little trouble. This probably makes this a more realistic apocalypse book in many ways but i
Oct 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for allowing me to read this e-proof. I was excited to get a chance to read it because I always love to read books that take place in Maine. I live just down the road from a fictional town called ‘Salem’s Lot, which totally creeped me out whenever I read the book. Olive Kittridge lives somewhere here in Maine, too. The Arrest takes place in the fictional town of Tinderwick, located on a peninsula on the Atlantic, a few hours up the coast from where I live ...more
Nov 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: giveaways
This book was both too much and not enough.

Too much: The writing is possibly the most pretentious I've encountered. It gets better (or just bearable) after the first 50 pages, but those first few chapters were a slog.

Not enough: The title of this book references something that's hinted to be an EMP-type doomsday scenario. But it's only hinted at. Supposedly we don't know any more about it because the main character doesn't know any more about it, but that strains belief as the main character wa
Nov 04, 2020 rated it did not like it
Book Review: The Arrest
Author: Jonathan Lethem
Publisher: HarperCollins Ecco
Publication Date: November 10, 2020
Review Date: November 4, 2020

From the blurb:
“From the award-winning author of The Feral Detective and Motherless Brooklyn comes an utterly original post-collapse yarn about two siblings, the man that came between them, and a nuclear-powered super car.

The Arrest isn’t post-apocalypse. It isn’t a dystopia. It isn’t a utopia. It’s just what happens when much of what we take for granted—cars
Nov 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, arc-net-galley
Jonathan Lethem's The Arrest is an odd take on a muted post-apocalyptic future after The Arrest, an extended event during which all tech, from TV to the internet to cell phones, stop working. The protagonist, Alexander "Sandy" Dupless is left stranded (vehicles using conventional fuel don't work either) up in New England near his sister, Maddy Duplessis, and her organic farm commune (which is a generous term for it, given how feudal it all seems) in Maine. At one time, before The Arrest, Sandy a ...more
Peter Baran
Sep 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Jonathon Lethem has carved himself out a comfortable hole in the literary pop culture crossover sphere. Starting with high concept low weirdness science fiction and then hitting big with Motherless Brooklyn, he has always been pretty very readable but sometimes the big ideas get lost in asides and diversions. The Arrest (which is a distracting name for a post-technology dystopian piece) knows that its field is crowded, and so needs to get some digs or acknowledge the competition (Cormac McCarthy ...more
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
This review originally published in Looking For a Good book. Rated 2.0 of 5

Sandy Duplessis was living a good life. He was living in Los Angeles and working as a screenwriter. His writing partner is his old college friend Peter Todbaum, and the charismatic Todbaum has become a king on the Hollywood scene - everyone listens to him and wants a piece of his action. When Sandy's sister Maddy comes to town, Todbaum finds himself quite attracted to her.

Then came the 'Arrest' when everything just stops
Aug 11, 2020 rated it liked it
An interesting read during an interesting time in our world. The Arrest is a time when everything in the world just stopped working. We never really learn why this happened just that it did. I was really interested in this event, and would have liked to hear more about it.
We pick up in a new "society" in New England with a guard group and a farming self sustaining group. They seem to have things pretty worked out amongst themselves. Until an old friend shows up in what he calls "The Blue Streak
Sam Jack
At the library where I work, there are quite a few patrons who enjoy a sub-genre called "cozy mystery," where somebody usually gets murdered, but other than the murder, everything is very pleasant and nice. With "The Arrest," Jonathan Lethem has written a sort of cozy post-apocalyptic novel. The world has ended, but other than that, everything is pretty much just fine. People are unhappy, but they seem to be unhappy in the familiar 21st century ways. The town therapist is kept very busy, and he ...more
Maggie Rotter
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jonathan Lethem . I fell in love with him and with Motherless Brooklyn in 1999, Fortress of Solitude in 2003. Those books are well worth reading in the context of current events and issues. Later works veered into the odd fantasy/science fiction realm. That is usually a land I love. but the "literariness" of the first books didn't translate well for me into genre fiction. But, glory be, here comes The Arrest which combines both in a way that is both clever and enjoyable in a weird way and is not ...more
Geonn Cannon
Nov 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm annoyed when a blurb says a book is an "utterly original" example of a genre, then the actual book turns out to be a fairly generic entry. It's almost like the author is ashamed to say they wrote a X-type book so they want to say "This ain't your granddaddy's dystopia!!" to make it seem different. It's not bad. It's actually pretty decent, and I'd recommend reading it if you like post-apocalyptic type novels. It's a quick read and the characters are well-drawn. But man, it just irks me when ...more
Seema Rao
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it
If you mixed a Jasper Fforde novel with When Androids Dream of Electric sheep, perhaps. It was enjoyable, though I’d like it even more if I wasn’t living in a dystopian future. It was a fast, enjoyable read and in a world where it didn’t seem like a possible future. I would have loved it.

Thanks to NetGalley for the arc in exchange for an honest review.
Nov 06, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Strange story with characters that had unknown motivation and were hard to relate to. Action is limited. I quite possibly missed the whole point.

Thanks to HarperCollins and NetGalley for the ARC to read and review.
Aug 24, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: done
'The Arrest' by Jonathan Lethem

This book had a wonderful description. What happens when all the tech stops working. Sounded like good SciFi. Sadly the way it was written I just could never get into this book. The details and descriptions. The terminology just didn't fit. It really didn't flow. The character of Journeyman was flat and I didn't see how hard it was to survive in a tech-free world. It was a book I thought I would enjoy it but didn't.

Allen Adams
Nov 16, 2020 rated it really liked it

There are few authors out there who can match Jonathan Lethem when it comes to literary genre-bending. Just a handful are even close – and none are better. He has long been a proponent of embracing the possibilities inherent to genre exploration, leading to work that is insightful, engaging … and wildly entertaining.

His latest effort is “The Arrest,” a post-apocalyptic tale that offers a glimpse at one possible ending for civilization as we know it. Neithe
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Or How We Got Along After The Wifi Went Down. The Arrest is an ambiguous utopia/dystopia in which advanced technology - from the internet to cars and guns - has all stopped working. At its simplest this is Lethem’s entry into the crowded canon of The Road, Station Eleven, Oryx and Crake and so on. As an avowed scifi reader Lethem also gives strong callbacks to post-apocalyptic classics such as Philip K. Dick’s Dr Bloodmoney and Walter M. Miller’s Canticle for Leibowitz.

Unlike the irradiated hell
Nov 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Let me begin by noting that Jonathan Lethem is one of my favorite living American writers. (I have a lot of favorite dead American writers.) Lethem’s stylistic flexibility and off-kilter imagination always astonish me. He has written genre novels and literary novels, has edited Philip K. Dick for the Library of America, penned essays, criticism, and short stories: he does it all. My favorite American novel is Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance, based on his experiences at a utopian communal farm ...more
Harry Jahnke
Sep 28, 2020 rated it liked it
You know, I've been really divulging on dystopian future books recently since we live in a dystopian future novel at the moment but this one left me a little hungry.

The Arrest is about a future in which every electronic device decides to spontaneously melt and humanity is forced to revert to a simpler way of life; farming, trapping animals, and relying on small communities for safety. Our hero, Journeyman, is a former script writer who is trying to find his place in this new society. All of the
Steve Koyasako
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
I received a free uncorrected proof of The Arrest from Ecco in a giveaway, and I have mixed feelings about the book. The Arrest is a kind of weird dystopian story about a world where modern technology simply stops working, for an inexplicable reason. Somehow, it all gets tied to a TV series screenplay that the protagonist -- Alexander Duplessis, aka Sandy, aka Journeyman (script writer/gofer)-- was working on with Peter Todbaum (producer/mover/shaker) in Hollywood. Part of the concept is also co ...more
Joseph Willis
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have long been a fan of Jonathan Lethem, in particular his way of playing with genre (As She Climbed Across the Table, Gun with Occasional Music). The arrival is another one of those great mixes. It has some dystopia, some post-apocalypse, a bit of utopia, and Lethem pulls it all off wonderfully. The world here isn’t overrun by some evil creature, there isn’t starvation or fanatical death waiting for the people in Tinderwick, the apocalypse was more everything stopping, screens going dead, and ...more
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Jonathan Allen Lethem (born February 19, 1964) is an American novelist, essayist and short story writer.

His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a genre work that mixed elements of science fiction and detective fiction, was published in 1994. It was followed by three more science fiction novels. In 1999, Lethem published Motherless Brooklyn, a National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novel t

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“THE OLD GROWTH, THE MAPLES, turned first. They rusted one leaf at a time, where ocean breezes bruised them, late in August. Paulo, the tree warden, once told Journeyman that the first trees to change reveal a map of damage. The earliest turning were those once sickened or lightning-struck. So Journeyman saw the season as a theater of succumbing. The wind’s bite called each tree to solidarity with the weakest. Only the evergreens were refuseniks. Primordial trees, dinosaur trees—in their gummy hearts, they were deader than the trees that turned.” 0 likes
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