Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan is described as a cross between Celeste Ng and Shirley Jackson, all about the darkness that can lurk behind the veneer of an all-American suburbia.
When a sinkhole opens up in the middle of Maple Street (a typical American neighborhood), a young girl accidentally falls in. This sets in motion a hysteria that spirals out of control. The Wildes, a newer family on the block, have never quite fit in. They just want to live a normal, middle class life in a nice neighborhood. But they’re about to realize a place like Maple Street can be more dangerous than they thought.
*I received this book for free from the publisher (Atria Books) in exchange for an honest review.
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Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan: My Thoughts
I would describe this as a literary thriller with a light sci-fi element. It’s strange, almost surreal, but also somewhat normalized by its suburbia setting.
This was a pretty heavy read. Almost every character has gone through (or is currently going through) some sort of trauma, whether it’s abuse, addiction, illness, or something else. I’ve read a lot of ‘dark’ books, but I feel like there are usually a few light moments to balance it out, and I would have liked a little more of that here. I had to watch The Great British Baking Show in between reading this to lift my spirits. 😂
The characters are extremely flawed, and many very unlikeable (one in particular – you’ll know who if you read it!). There’s a large cast of characters, but Langan did a good job making them mostly stand out. Many of them had individual quirks, despite the mob mentality that permeated the neighborhood.
There’s also a constant sense of dread – especially in the way it was structured with the newspaper articles and interviews peppered throughout. I really liked how it was framed in that way.
The writing is strong. I did see a slight resemblance to Shirley Jackson. I also think this draws inspiration from an episode of The Twilight Zone, which makes sense since that’s what it feels like. The sinkhole aspect of the story was fascinating!
While Good Neighbors did feel a bit over-the-top for me at times, overall it’s a tense and quirky read that’s hard to put down!
Rating: 3.75 (out of 5) stars
Release date: February 2nd, 2021