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You Feel It Just Below the Ribs

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A fictional autobiography in an alternate twentieth century that chronicles one woman’s unusual life, including the price she pays to survive and the cost her choices hold for the society she is trying to save. Born at the end of the old world, Miriam grows up during The Great Reckoning, a sprawling, decades-long war that nearly decimates humanity and strips her of friends A fictional autobiography in an alternate twentieth century that chronicles one woman’s unusual life, including the price she pays to survive and the cost her choices hold for the society she is trying to save. Born at the end of the old world, Miriam grows up during The Great Reckoning, a sprawling, decades-long war that nearly decimates humanity and strips her of friends and family. Devastated by grief and loneliness, she emotionally exiles herself, avoiding relationships or allegiances, and throws herself into her work—disengagement that serves her when the war finally ends, and The New Society arises. To ensure a lasting peace, The New Society forbids anything that may cause tribal loyalties, including traditional families. Suddenly, everyone must live as Miriam has chosen to—disconnected and unattached. A researcher at heart, Miriam becomes involved in implementing this detachment process. She does not know it is the beginning of a darkly sinister program that will transform this new world and the lives of everyone in it. Eventually, the harmful effects of her research become too much for Miriam, and she devises a secret plan to destroy the system from within, endangering her own life. But is her “confession” honest—or is it a fabrication riddled with lies meant to conceal the truth?


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A fictional autobiography in an alternate twentieth century that chronicles one woman’s unusual life, including the price she pays to survive and the cost her choices hold for the society she is trying to save. Born at the end of the old world, Miriam grows up during The Great Reckoning, a sprawling, decades-long war that nearly decimates humanity and strips her of friends A fictional autobiography in an alternate twentieth century that chronicles one woman’s unusual life, including the price she pays to survive and the cost her choices hold for the society she is trying to save. Born at the end of the old world, Miriam grows up during The Great Reckoning, a sprawling, decades-long war that nearly decimates humanity and strips her of friends and family. Devastated by grief and loneliness, she emotionally exiles herself, avoiding relationships or allegiances, and throws herself into her work—disengagement that serves her when the war finally ends, and The New Society arises. To ensure a lasting peace, The New Society forbids anything that may cause tribal loyalties, including traditional families. Suddenly, everyone must live as Miriam has chosen to—disconnected and unattached. A researcher at heart, Miriam becomes involved in implementing this detachment process. She does not know it is the beginning of a darkly sinister program that will transform this new world and the lives of everyone in it. Eventually, the harmful effects of her research become too much for Miriam, and she devises a secret plan to destroy the system from within, endangering her own life. But is her “confession” honest—or is it a fabrication riddled with lies meant to conceal the truth?

30 review for You Feel It Just Below the Ribs

  1. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    Every book is a construction, to some degree, between the author(s) and their reader; it’s part of why we react so strongly when the movie adaptations get things “wrong.” You Feel It Just Below The Ribs is a beautiful example of how just the right amount of ambiguity can pull the reader into engaging more completely with the story. It starts almost simply; the introduction explains that we’re reading the autobiography of Dr. Miriam Gregory, mind behind some of the core tenets of the somewhat omin Every book is a construction, to some degree, between the author(s) and their reader; it’s part of why we react so strongly when the movie adaptations get things “wrong.” You Feel It Just Below The Ribs is a beautiful example of how just the right amount of ambiguity can pull the reader into engaging more completely with the story. It starts almost simply; the introduction explains that we’re reading the autobiography of Dr. Miriam Gregory, mind behind some of the core tenets of the somewhat ominously named New Society. There are frequent footnotes accompanying the text, explaining concepts or providing further context on locations and people. But it’s not too long before all the familiar frames start to slip – the cities have the same names as we’re familiar with in reality, but it’s clear history took a different course; the academic footnotes turn defensive, critical, even outright mocking at times; and the narrator herself seems to be telling us only parts of what’s going on. Through it all, however, there is the consistency provided by some beautiful writing – not flowery, straightforward, but still containing some sentences that just felt like simple perfection. Readers already familiar with the authors’ works, or the Within the Wires podcast which created the universe this novel is based in, won’t be too surprised by that. Deceptively deep simplicity – backed by moments of horror both existential and plausible – is a trademark of both Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson; working together seems to bring out the very best in both of them. If you’re not up to date, or completely new to their podcast, you won’t need to be current to get into this book; I went in deliberately blind and had no problem keeping up. You Feel It Just Below The Ribs is thought-provoking, more than a little melancholy, and ultimately one of the most intriguing novels I’ve read this year. What a quietly wonderful book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    A dystopian novel about family, memory, grief. Some of it was a bit so long and some was a bit brushed over but overall a quick and fascinating sci-fi read. (It takes place in the Within the Wires podcast universe but you don't really need to listen to it to read the book.) A dystopian novel about family, memory, grief. Some of it was a bit so long and some was a bit brushed over but overall a quick and fascinating sci-fi read. (It takes place in the Within the Wires podcast universe but you don't really need to listen to it to read the book.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Toria

    The blurb, the cover and the title intrigued me a lot to pick it up and I'm very glad that I wasn't disappointed. Had a few duds but this wasn't one of them. An intriguing story that was exciting to listen to and never got dull. The blurb, the cover and the title intrigued me a lot to pick it up and I'm very glad that I wasn't disappointed. Had a few duds but this wasn't one of them. An intriguing story that was exciting to listen to and never got dull.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Miya

    I liked this one, but I felt like it was a bit slow getting into it. The ending felt rushed, but with that being said I did enjoy it. It will be one that sticks with me for a while. Dystopian fans should like it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sami Hunter

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I'll start with what I liked about the book. First of all, it is beautifully written. The authors are obviously masters at both storytelling and prose. It was a little slow going at first, but I was soon hooked and couldn't put the book down. I applaud their attempt at formatting a story as a nonfiction manuscript, complete with footnotes and interludes from the publisher. Whether or not it is successful, I'll dive into later. I also loved how all of the main characters in the novel are women. It' I'll start with what I liked about the book. First of all, it is beautifully written. The authors are obviously masters at both storytelling and prose. It was a little slow going at first, but I was soon hooked and couldn't put the book down. I applaud their attempt at formatting a story as a nonfiction manuscript, complete with footnotes and interludes from the publisher. Whether or not it is successful, I'll dive into later. I also loved how all of the main characters in the novel are women. It's something I didn't consciously notice until nearly the end of the book, but it was very refreshing. Any and all men and boys are there to further the plot, a tactic typically switched in most stories, so it was interesting to see the roles reversed. My major complaint with the book is that, though at the end of the novel it is mentioned that this takes place in the same world as the authors' podcast Within the Wires and claims you do not have to have listened to the podcast to fully grasp the book, I found that to be false. I took notes along the way detailing my confusion, and I feel a lot of it would have been clearer had I listened to the podcast first. I'm familiar with Jeffrey Cranor's work in Welcome to Night Vale, and once I read the explanation of the podcast at the end of the book I remembered having listened to a few sample episodes of Within the Wires posted to Nightvale. But again, I feel like I would have grasped the full tone, breadth, and theme of the book better having listened to the podcast. My next chief complaint is that the book's message or theme is very unclear. Part of that is on me: I must have skimmed over the part in the Introduction establishing that the footnotes and interludes are written by who they claim to be a third party Publisher (name escapes me at the moment). However, I read all the footnotes and Interludes from the perspective of this world's government, the New Society. I felt like I was constantly flip flopping between which was the more reliable narrator, Dr. Gregory or the Publisher. Obviously, with the book being written from Dr. Gregory's perspective, the reader tends to want to trust her, especially in that almost all books set in a dystopian/utopian society, "Big Brother" is typically the bad guy. Even if the authors are trying to relay the message that both the author and the publisher are not completely reliable, they cannot ignored the decades of dystopian novels (Ayn Rand's Anthem, George Orwell's 1984, Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games, to name a few) that have influenced readers to expect to see the government as the "bad guy." That being said, I was extremely dismayed at the book's message on nationalism, families, and surrogacy. As stated before, despite Dr. Gregory not being a perfect character, the reader tends to want to favor her over what is being said in the footnotes. A big example of my issue with the book is how the character of Rosemary/Dr. Rose Hartstock is handled. Though the footnotes say they might not be the same person (an unnecessary addition in a book supposed to be fictional: ie who cares if there's doubt to them being the same person when you're implying they are?), Dr. Gregory obviously paints her as the villain of the story, having manipulated both Dr. Gregory and many powerful people into giving Dr. Hatstock access to perform torturous experiments on both children and adults. However, the footnotes claim that none of this is true, as Dr. Hartstock began numerous mental health institutions and trauma centers all over the world. To me, this is implying that either Dr. Gregory is completely unreliable (which we know she isn't, otherwise why write this book?), Dr. Hartstock used what she learned by her torture methods to create ethical and moral mental health centers (ie the ends justify the means, similar to horrendous experiments taken out on Jews in the Holocaust and black women throughout history, but without which we wouldn't know as much about health and medicine that we do today), or that all of these mental health institutions are more of the same of what Dr. Hartstock established with Dr. Gregory: torture chambers disguised as mental health facilities. Either way, the message I interpreted from this is that mental health centers are not to be trusted. It feels to me the message the authors are trying to communicate, one of the themes of the novel, is that any government-run institution with the intention of improving the mental health of it's citizens is untrustworthy and ultimately bad. Though the real world went through a period of time where this was true, this message seems incredibly tone deaf for the world we live in today. Now more than ever the world desperately needs government funded mental health institutions for all things from drug addiction, poverty, homelessness, to unpacking toxic masculinity and trauma instilled from generations of culture based from a puritanical Christian society. This is not the message the world needs right now. We don't need any more reasons for society to doubt doctors and medicine. Another theme the book seems to communicate is this "slippery slope" mentality. This book kept making me think of Ayn Rand's Anthem, much to my dismay. The message of both of these books seems to be that there can be no in-between, no gray areas, in which society can live. We either have families, and the eventually breeds nationalism and war, or we live in a society where all familial connections are forcibly severed by a higher, governmental power. Again, in a time where our current real-world circumstances are in such strife, I feel this is a very tone deaf message. We're living in a world where parents are refusing to vaccinate their children against a pandemic for fear of nonexistent side effects, while being okay with putting other families at risk by this decision. We live in a world horribly overpopulated, diseased, and polluted, while people continue to grow their families either because they don't believe the science, or don't care as long as they get a child who can satisfy their personal wishes, while dooming their children to deal with a world in an even worse shape than the one their parents had to grow up in. I don't see why these books always swing to extremes, instead of preaching a world where perhaps families can exist while having empathy for other families as well, from all over the globe. Finally, I was disturbed at the implications of emotional turmoil a biological parent must go through when giving up a child. The sequences when Teresa falls into depression after giving up her surrogate child seemed tone deaf to the millions of surrogate parents who agree to give up their biological children every year. It also establishes an archaic attitude towards biological linkages between families. There are millions of families brought together by adoption that have the same, if not stronger, bonds than those connected by blood. I understand post partum depression exists, but the lengths Teresa is described as going to in naming one of her surrogate children I find offensive towards real surrogate parents. The book also ended in an extremely disappointing way. I know they establish from the beginning the lack of hope there is for the future, but I was hoping for some kind of resolution more satisfying than what we got. If the authors continue to further the story in their podcast, I'm disappointed that this whole novel seems to be one big advertisement for said podcast. The book also needs a typo pass. There were many misspellings and repeated or missing words that were fairly distracting. All in all, the book was fairly entertaining, and perhaps I'm off base with my assumptions on the theme, tone, and message of this story. Perhaps I need to have listened to the podcast to better get the "point". But I feel if that is the case, readers need to be forewarned that this is an addendum to a story and world set up by the podcast. I appreciate what the book was trying to attempt in formatting it as a nonfictional, historical piece, but in trying to equally display two conflicting accounts in Dr. Gregory's story and the publisher's footnotes, I feel they canceled each other out, muddying the overall message. TL;DR: An entertaining but ultimately confusing and disappointing read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kim Lockhart

    Whew! This book is seriously creepy and effective psychological horror. The authors make wry observations about human character and society along the way. The book also made me consider the concept of memory more closely. They say a trick of memory is that we aren't remembering the event, but rather we are remembering the first time we remembered. The mind is tricky. After especially hard times, we remember time passing more quickly than it did, with more solid beginnings and endings than actual Whew! This book is seriously creepy and effective psychological horror. The authors make wry observations about human character and society along the way. The book also made me consider the concept of memory more closely. They say a trick of memory is that we aren't remembering the event, but rather we are remembering the first time we remembered. The mind is tricky. After especially hard times, we remember time passing more quickly than it did, with more solid beginnings and endings than actual fluid reality.  These concepts are key in this fictional autobiography in an alternate 20th century reality.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie | stephonashelf

    4.5 🌟 I was instantly captivated and drawn in by this book. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. An apocalyptic society set during the time when WWI and WWII would of taken place. Typically dystopian books happen in the future and not the past, so this story had a unique premise from the start. Written as a discovered autobiography with annotations, the reader is given conflicting portrayals of events that may or may not have happened. This book had smart writing, subtle humor, romance, sci-fi 4.5 🌟 I was instantly captivated and drawn in by this book. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. An apocalyptic society set during the time when WWI and WWII would of taken place. Typically dystopian books happen in the future and not the past, so this story had a unique premise from the start. Written as a discovered autobiography with annotations, the reader is given conflicting portrayals of events that may or may not have happened. This book had smart writing, subtle humor, romance, sci-fi elements, dystopian themes, all rounded out with a thriller’s edge. Certain things are never left answered and it’s all up to you to decide what was real and what wasn’t. I’m sure that was the authors intent, but I WANTED TO KNOW! 😂 This new book is a must read for fans of Station Eleven, and dystopian fiction fans.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Wagner

    This is familiar and yet effective dystopian storytelling. Truths about our current world are revealed here, via an alternative history about a novel flu virus that spread beginning in 1916 during the Great War. Think Handmaid's Tale but with less rape and more apocalypse. The prose is powerfully written. The musings of the narrator have the resounding wisdom of deep reflection, and the perspective that comes with having survived disaster and moved on. All of the following are sentences I copied This is familiar and yet effective dystopian storytelling. Truths about our current world are revealed here, via an alternative history about a novel flu virus that spread beginning in 1916 during the Great War. Think Handmaid's Tale but with less rape and more apocalypse. The prose is powerfully written. The musings of the narrator have the resounding wisdom of deep reflection, and the perspective that comes with having survived disaster and moved on. All of the following are sentences I copied from the text because I thought they were profound and meaningful: I grew up at the end of the world, and all that mattered was what was for dinner...The end of the world comes with neither whimper nor bang. It unfurls its blossom slowly, majestically, one moist black petal at a time... The idea of an apocalypse is a comfort, because it makes death seem like something we can all experience together, in a single moment, a colorful firework burst. But mostly death is something you keep to yourself. In reality, the apocalypse is most likely to be you, alone in a room with the flu...I have known death all my life. I fear it, of course. But it is familiar. Death is a stray dog I have taken in and fed--not because I love it but because I don't want it biting me out of hunger. Sometimes, for some people, the amount of labor it takes to accrue the supplies you need to live through a day outweighs the value of the day itself. You spend each day working, striving, fighting to live--only to wake up faced with another day you have to survive. The world was ending, so what good were values? What good was neighborly sentiment?...You do the best you can, and the only morality you have to cling to is the knowledge that you didn't choose to be there. Once you believe that the end of the world has begun, you are complicit in its destruction. It is one of the universe's deepest and cruelest jokes that it takes a lifetime to learn the lessons you need in order to live. Traditions, custom, the ways of the world--they really are little more than everything we have taken for granted since our own childhood. Everything can change within one or two generations. Unfortunately this book is riddled with footnotes, editorial expository commentary, as this is framed as found written testimony. I hated these and found them distracting--the authors could have left it all for the end, like Margaret Atwood did in Handmaid's Tale. The purpose of the voice in the footnotes seems to be gaslighting from a place of academic or governmental authority, years into the future. The manuscript purports to be lived experience, but the footnotes directly contradict what's in the "primary text". Criticism of the new Society's decisions is defined as treason, for instance, when the narrator is clearly just trying to navigate her own life and help those around her, not necessarily change the world at large. Then she wonders: "What if I could remove painful memories entirely?" Uh oh. I saw The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Removing memories intentionally is a bad idea. And in the next chapter one of the footnotes mentions a "state sanctioned process that all children go through at the age of ten...the culmination and advancement of her work". Uh oh. The narrator thinks of this as a "method for separating people from their trauma...Was I not right to try to heal trauma?" Dr. Gabor Maté advocates for the wisdom and importance of trauma. Yes, we should move through it, but it informs us and makes us more compassionate. Equanimity is a pillar of Zen, but unfortunately in the book's universe, the government has decided, according to the increasingly condescending, dismissive footnotes: "Our world was almost destroyed by violence caused by inherited hatred and prejudice. By removing the ability to inherit, we have achieved a truly peaceful and equal world...Ultimately, it was decided that almost any interpersonal relationship has the potential to lead to conflict. We fight for our friends as well as our lovers. However...relationships between peers do not have the same inherited prejudices and fears of those between connected generations." In short, parents and children are made to forget each other. What happens next begs -- something. It gets pretty wild, and the details are scarce. The opaqueness of it all is what generates more psychological horror than if it were clearly described, I think. I did end up with some unanswered questions, but nothing for which I couldn't suspend disbelief. As the story's claims get wilder and wilder the footnote commentary protests more and more strongly, using words like "obviously ridiculous". (view spoiler)[The last page F**KED ME UP. It made me smile like the cat that got the canary. THE FOOTNOTES WERE SUBVERSIVE ALL ALONG!! (hide spoiler)] Since the Covid pandemic I've been thinking differently about numbers. A single baby down a well is heart-rending and inconceivable, but hundreds of thousands dead from coronavirus is just daily news, to be ignored in favor of looking at Travis and Kourtney's engagement photos or whatever. We've tolerated some pretty bad evils in our society and the matters in this book are thought provoking. This calls attention to the corruption of something so tender, so sacred as the mother-child bond. What is tribalism? What are its effects? What is society FOR? Then to find out there's a podcast set in the same universe? I'm intrigued, but with six seasons I'm a bit intimidated. I'll leave that alone, but this book was EXCELLENT!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    TraceyL

    A unique take on the importance of family and relationships. In post-war Europe after a devastating war was started by fighting families, society as a whole decides that the family unit as a concept needs to be destroyed, and children should be taken away at birth and raised to forget their parents. I loved the format of this book. It's an autobiography told by an unreliable narrator, and notes have been written by scholars years later. At first the notes add clarity to the story (and give the r A unique take on the importance of family and relationships. In post-war Europe after a devastating war was started by fighting families, society as a whole decides that the family unit as a concept needs to be destroyed, and children should be taken away at birth and raised to forget their parents. I loved the format of this book. It's an autobiography told by an unreliable narrator, and notes have been written by scholars years later. At first the notes add clarity to the story (and give the reader more context of the world without info-dumping at the start), but they become more and more irritated with the original author as the story goes on, and will point out things that absolutely did not happen (at least as far as the scholars are concerned). It's left up to the reader to decide how much of the story is true, and what the purpose of the book was. I honestly do not feel like I fully understood the story or got everything from it that I was supposed to, so I'm worried that as time goes on I'm going to forget this book all together. Hopefully once I have some time to really think about it I'll make some more connections. For now I'm rounding up my rating to a 4.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    4,5 stars There is no need to listen to the podcast before reading the book! Myself I didn’t even realise they were set in the same universe before I’d read half the book. Thought provoking and scary. Probably an excellent book for a book club because it’s filled with moral dilemmas!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bridget Anne

    So I don't often write reviews because I have a hard time articulating what I like or don't like about a book. It's just what it is. But this book really struck me, so here we are. Before I start, some disclaimers: 1. At this point I will read/listen to anything Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Mathewson do. They created the Within the Wires podcast, and this novel is set in that world. So I am biased to enjoy this. 2. I listened to this as an audiobook but the only option Goodreads would give me for tha So I don't often write reviews because I have a hard time articulating what I like or don't like about a book. It's just what it is. But this book really struck me, so here we are. Before I start, some disclaimers: 1. At this point I will read/listen to anything Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Mathewson do. They created the Within the Wires podcast, and this novel is set in that world. So I am biased to enjoy this. 2. I listened to this as an audiobook but the only option Goodreads would give me for that is Audible, which I did not use. I purchased through Libro.fm which helped my local bookstore. The narrators - Kirsten Potter and Adepero Oduye - were excellent.; they should read all the things. So, on to an actual review. I love an unreliable narrator. I've listened to the podcast that started this world (though you really don't need to in order to read this book) so I've got some opinions on which of the two narrators is truly unreliable, and I'll leave it at that to avoid spoilers. The picture this book paints of an alternate 20th century, ravaged by war and disease and disaster, with a new world order rising from it is pretty fantastic. I really felt like I was listening to a memoir. Be warned - there are some parts of this that are not for the faint of heart, particularly if you're listening to the audiobook, but I don't find them gratuitous. Overall, I think Cranor and Matthewson do a great job of showing us who Dr. Gregory is, and via her observations, what has happened to her world. You should read this.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    I am 50/50 on this one. I absolutely loved the autobiographical style and footnotes that told much of the “true” history of the alternate reality and disputed much of the story. However, I did find it slower moving than I would’ve liked for not much of a payoff at the end. It was definitely different and I am now intrigued enough to want to listen to the authors podcast.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie Huxley-Jones

    I have been exceedingly lucky with proofs this month, one of which is the new novel from Janina Matthewson and Jeffrey Cranor, the writers of the found audio podcast series Within the Wires.⁠ ⁠ And oh my god is You Feel It Just Below the Ribs good. In short, it is a fictional found memoir, published by a small press, set in an alternate 20th century that challenges the foundation of society, and plays with truth, history and suppression in astonishing ways.⁠ ⁠ Miriam grows up during the Great Reckon I have been exceedingly lucky with proofs this month, one of which is the new novel from Janina Matthewson and Jeffrey Cranor, the writers of the found audio podcast series Within the Wires.⁠ ⁠ And oh my god is You Feel It Just Below the Ribs good. In short, it is a fictional found memoir, published by a small press, set in an alternate 20th century that challenges the foundation of society, and plays with truth, history and suppression in astonishing ways.⁠ ⁠ Miriam grows up during the Great Reckoning, during which she discovers a kind of meditation that can not only produce an important and much needed sense of calm, but it can change and challenge trauma. And even remove memories. As Miri’s work grows into a foundation of the New Society, she starts to question if her research, and what she unleashed on the world, has gone too far.⁠ ⁠ I love the interplay between Miriam’s memoir and the editorial additions in footnotes by the Yuritian Press who decide to distribute it after the New Society decides it’s better left unpublished due to its supposed spurious and unsubstantiated claims. A dialogue arises between them, which makes you question who is the true holder of the truth. ⁠ ⁠ This book pulls the rug out from under you in such subtle quick gestures, culminating in a truly eerie final section as Miriam challenges everything she’s built. I am very unsettled!!!⁠ ⁠ If you have also listened to Within the Wires, you will be familiar with the world within which this novel is set, but you could genuinely approach either first, prior knowledge not needed, but I do recommend exploring both either way round.⁠ ⁠ The wonderful gang at Portal Bookshop in York have it available to preorder online, which is where I've preordered my hardcover edition from. It's out on November the 16th!⁠

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susan Ballard

    Are you familiar with the War of the Worlds radio broadcast where people began to believe it was actually happening? I felt a little like those listeners when reading this book. Written in an autobiographical format, we follow Dr. Miram Gregory’s life during the Great Reckoning. She writes of her trials through the First World War, the influenza pandemic, and even being imprisoned as a child. From all these travesties throughout Europe, The New Society arises. It believes that any attachment to t Are you familiar with the War of the Worlds radio broadcast where people began to believe it was actually happening? I felt a little like those listeners when reading this book. Written in an autobiographical format, we follow Dr. Miram Gregory’s life during the Great Reckoning. She writes of her trials through the First World War, the influenza pandemic, and even being imprisoned as a child. From all these travesties throughout Europe, The New Society arises. It believes that any attachment to tribal and traditional families must be forbidden for lasting peace. Dr. Gregory is not opposed, as she likens herself a researcher in the meditative detachment method called the Watercolor Quiet.  As Dr. Gregory gets more involved in implementing this psychological detachment, she realizes something much darker at play here than she ever intended. She plans to expose the system and the truth, but did any of it ever really happen? Okay, so the way this book is formatted, with Miriam’s story said to be discovered as a manuscript, and with added footnotes for clarification, it really makes you feel like you are reading an actual autobiography. If you enjoy alternative realities and dystopian societies, this one will get you thinking. Thank you to @harperperennial for this gifted copy.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    DNF 150 pages in. This felt like a misguided attempt to rip off experimental fiction like House of Leaves, JJ Abrams’ S, etc.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ann Marie

    Special thanks to Harper Publishing for the physical ARC of this book coming out November 21st. I'm giving it a 5 star rating because I appreciate the physical book although I believe I should check out a podcast before reading which doesn't excite me too much but why not? I got that idea about the podcast from another review on Goodreads. The book is a fictional autobiography. It sounds interesting to me because its about a woman named Miriam who grows up during The Great Reckoning, which is a v Special thanks to Harper Publishing for the physical ARC of this book coming out November 21st. I'm giving it a 5 star rating because I appreciate the physical book although I believe I should check out a podcast before reading which doesn't excite me too much but why not? I got that idea about the podcast from another review on Goodreads. The book is a fictional autobiography. It sounds interesting to me because its about a woman named Miriam who grows up during The Great Reckoning, which is a very long war that decimates humanity and people are to grow up in exile, without friends, family, and basically any social attachments. When the war ends, a New Society rises forbidding any loyalties to anyone, including family. Everyone must live as Miriam has...exiled. Miriam is a researcher at heart and she becomes involved in the process of detachment of people from their relationships, but what she doesn't know is that its a dark program with harmful affects. Miriam has a plan though....is it to expose the truth and destroy the detachment program from within or not? Its supposedly a book of loss and trauma, which sounds similar to something I know about. Should be interesting.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Thanks so much to @netgalley and @harperperennial for the digital arc of You Feel It Just Below The Ribs 🖤 I enjoyed this so much! This story was such an interesting and unique take on a dystopian/post-apocalyptic storyline (and it also felt totally plausible). I think it was SO well thought out. The society Miriam (the main character) lived in, the way she thought about things, Miri herself as a character, the watercolor quiet, it was all so thought provoking! I loved the autobiographical style Thanks so much to @netgalley and @harperperennial for the digital arc of You Feel It Just Below The Ribs 🖤 I enjoyed this so much! This story was such an interesting and unique take on a dystopian/post-apocalyptic storyline (and it also felt totally plausible). I think it was SO well thought out. The society Miriam (the main character) lived in, the way she thought about things, Miri herself as a character, the watercolor quiet, it was all so thought provoking! I loved the autobiographical style to the novel, it was done so fantastically. Miriam sounded like a real person just telling her story. There were quirks to the writing that made her feel real and her words flowed like real speech; I could practically hear her voice talking to me. (This would make a fantastic audiobook!) I thought the interjections from the “publishers” throughout the novel added something really interesting as well. This book was a bit of a slow burn for me but I didn’t really mind it. I’m down if it’s a great story and this totally was for me. Loved it! I for sure will be checking out more from these authors in the future. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Miriam grows up during a time called The Great Reckoning, a war so long and devastating she is left with nothing. She is forced to learn to live by herself and for herself, detached from everything she once knew. After the war is over, The New Society needs to ensure that connections cease to exist. Traditional families are torn apart and everyone is required to live alone. Now an adult, Miriam helps the society by using her processes of detachment and forgetting. But even she is wary of this ne Miriam grows up during a time called The Great Reckoning, a war so long and devastating she is left with nothing. She is forced to learn to live by herself and for herself, detached from everything she once knew. After the war is over, The New Society needs to ensure that connections cease to exist. Traditional families are torn apart and everyone is required to live alone. Now an adult, Miriam helps the society by using her processes of detachment and forgetting. But even she is wary of this new way of living. This has to be one of the most unique books I've ever read. It reminds me of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Handmaids Tale put together in one very interesting story. I really enjoyed how it was written as Miriam's manuscript, complete with edits and footnotes to add context into this time period. Thank you so much to Harper Perennial for the advance reading copy!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mallory (onmalsshelf) Bartel

    Thanks to Harper Perennial and NetGalley for this ARC. A quick, dystopian read with an interesting premise - a fictional autobiography of Miriam, a woman who came of age during the Great Reckoning (approx the time of WW1 and the Spanish Influenza) While this was a quick read and very interesting, I found some parts dragged a bit and seemed repetitive. Also, I found it hard to figure out the age of the person at the center of the biography. We were only really told her age up between 20-30s and the Thanks to Harper Perennial and NetGalley for this ARC. A quick, dystopian read with an interesting premise - a fictional autobiography of Miriam, a woman who came of age during the Great Reckoning (approx the time of WW1 and the Spanish Influenza) While this was a quick read and very interesting, I found some parts dragged a bit and seemed repetitive. Also, I found it hard to figure out the age of the person at the center of the biography. We were only really told her age up between 20-30s and then later when she’s 80. If the “editors” of the found autobiography added plenty of footnotes throughout for clarity but it’s hard to follow along when you don’t know how old the person is. I also would’ve liked to have seen a map so I could get general idea of locations as the world lost the deceptions we use during the Great Reckoning. Definitely recommend to sci-fi readers and anyone looking to get into the genre with a lighter dystopian.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emma Reid

    I loved the premise of this book! In a post-apocalyptic society that has begun to rebuild, we examine an expansion of a meditation technique - the watercolor quiet. Journeying into this world, one can rewire their neural pathways. To take things further, people begin to adopt this practice... and abuse it. But if you know me, you know that I hate footnotes... For this book, I almost tolerated it. But I don't think it worked. Presented with an unreliable narrator, I knew from the get-go that we c I loved the premise of this book! In a post-apocalyptic society that has begun to rebuild, we examine an expansion of a meditation technique - the watercolor quiet. Journeying into this world, one can rewire their neural pathways. To take things further, people begin to adopt this practice... and abuse it. But if you know me, you know that I hate footnotes... For this book, I almost tolerated it. But I don't think it worked. Presented with an unreliable narrator, I knew from the get-go that we could only trust so much of what she said. I felt like the interludes from the "publisher" were more useful in introducing the conflicting accounts. But if footnotes are for you, definitely try this one on for size. *Thank you to Harper Perennial and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review*

  21. 4 out of 5

    John

    A found memoir from a dystopian alternate 20th century (similar in framing structure, though not content, of The Handmaid's Tale) where WW1 continued on long past 1918 and became something known as the Great Reckoning, this novel told a compelling story within a framing device/meta-commentary that leads the reader unsure who, if anyone, to fully believe. The "publisher footnotes" feel less trustworthy with time, and by the closing section it becomes difficult to discern the true in-universe beli A found memoir from a dystopian alternate 20th century (similar in framing structure, though not content, of The Handmaid's Tale) where WW1 continued on long past 1918 and became something known as the Great Reckoning, this novel told a compelling story within a framing device/meta-commentary that leads the reader unsure who, if anyone, to fully believe. The "publisher footnotes" feel less trustworthy with time, and by the closing section it becomes difficult to discern the true in-universe beliefs of the commentator/publisher at all. The action accelerates in a way that makes sense given the structure but left me wanting to have spent more time in the latter half than I did; it could have added 100 pages and had a richer end but at the same time it wasn't too rapid to be satisfying or anything. I got this book because I'm a fan of Welcome to Night Vale, and if you like the earlier, more mysterious era of that podcast I think you'd like this too. This is set in the same universe as Within the Wires, which is not a podcast I've listened to before but I plan to pick it up now because of this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emily Smith

    I’m 90% certain that Within The Wires is my favorite Night Vale Presents podcast. I’m 100% certain that this is my favorite Night Vale Presents novel. Having studied the Society and the Great Reckoning (and the Cradle) closely, composing two collegiate papers/presentations on their roles as utopian societies and connections to historical utopian themes, this world is something I fold into easily. The writing style pulls me in in a manner that is both comforting and exciting. This is going at the I’m 90% certain that Within The Wires is my favorite Night Vale Presents podcast. I’m 100% certain that this is my favorite Night Vale Presents novel. Having studied the Society and the Great Reckoning (and the Cradle) closely, composing two collegiate papers/presentations on their roles as utopian societies and connections to historical utopian themes, this world is something I fold into easily. The writing style pulls me in in a manner that is both comforting and exciting. This is going at the top of my book rec list, especially to my former literature professors.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mandie McGlynn

    Very intense. If you’ve listened to the podcast Within the Wires, you’ll recognize the universe (but not the characters, for the most part. This is set during The Reckoning). This book is memoir-style, with a frame of it being set in a much later post-Reckoning time period, with occasional footnotes thrown in by the archivist. Still, it’s compelling, and an interesting take on the Universe that can, I think?, stand along, but if you’ve been through the first four seasons of WTW, it will be even Very intense. If you’ve listened to the podcast Within the Wires, you’ll recognize the universe (but not the characters, for the most part. This is set during The Reckoning). This book is memoir-style, with a frame of it being set in a much later post-Reckoning time period, with occasional footnotes thrown in by the archivist. Still, it’s compelling, and an interesting take on the Universe that can, I think?, stand along, but if you’ve been through the first four seasons of WTW, it will be even richer.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Beauregard

    Most of this was just okay, but I really didn't care for the last quarter of the book, especially the ending. Maybe I would've liked it more if I'd listened to the authors' podcast based in the same universe as this book? I didn't realize that that was the situation before I read it. If nothing else it is an interesting practice in trying to read a text with two clear and conflicting agendas: the one of the author, Miriam, and the publisher, through their many footnotes. Most of this was just okay, but I really didn't care for the last quarter of the book, especially the ending. Maybe I would've liked it more if I'd listened to the authors' podcast based in the same universe as this book? I didn't realize that that was the situation before I read it. If nothing else it is an interesting practice in trying to read a text with two clear and conflicting agendas: the one of the author, Miriam, and the publisher, through their many footnotes.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cassi

    I want to describe this book as “quiet,” but that would be misleading because I don’t mean “peaceful.” This book was quiet like the way your ears hum before a catastrophe you know is coming, one where you can see the outcome isn’t going to be good no matter what you do. It was quiet and compelling and sad, and perfectly written for the story it was telling.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tory

    This one will get you just below the ribs. "When you look back, you see the magnitude. You don't see the detail. The everyday, gray detail. You don't know how something can be deeply traumatic and yet somehow incredibly boring. This interminable stretch of disaster." This one will get you just below the ribs. "When you look back, you see the magnitude. You don't see the detail. The everyday, gray detail. You don't know how something can be deeply traumatic and yet somehow incredibly boring. This interminable stretch of disaster."

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kirk

    “Not everyone comes of age during the apocalypse.” My favorite quote. Interesting alternative history fiction autobiography with unique footnotes. I have never listened to the authors podcast. 3.5 stars

  28. 5 out of 5

    Grace W

    Deeply interesting and addictive to read. This alternative history book is perfect for spooky season, with echoes of our own reality playing like shadows in the background

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    3.5 stars this was a slow start, but wow did it get interesting at the halfway mark and the footnotes!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shea

    1. Pages show signs of water damage. Need to relisten to Within The Wires season one asap

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