“This is an extraordinary and dazzlingly original work from one of our most gifted and interesting writers.”
Emily St. John Mandel
Part domestic thriller, part speculative fiction, part psychological drama, The Need is a novel about Molly, a scientist and mother of two young children. When a masked intruder appears in her home and demonstrates an eerie familiarity with the inner workings of her life, Molly falls down a mind-bending rabbit hole. The evolving tension of the threat from the intruder is matched by mounting drama at Molly’s workplace. She is a paleobotanist who has recently uncovered an array of peculiar artifacts at her fossil quarry. When Molly learns the true identity of the intruder, her personal and professional crises collide, forcing her to confront an almost impossible moral decision with far-reaching repercussions for her children. The book explores maternal love, loss, and what one human can be asked to do for another.
"This book held me hostage, invaded my dreams and my waking thoughts, and readjusted my brain; 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."
author of The Great Believers
“The Need is a spellbinding novel, both unsettling and irresistible. The best fiction finds the uncanny within the familiar; it makes us feel the fantastical undercurrent of our embodied lives. With exquisite economy and evocative prose, Phillips manifests the surreal, terrifying, and visceral experience of motherhood.”
author of Innocents and Others
“The Need is a profound meditation on the nature of reality, a fearless examination of parenthood, and also somehow a thriller. This is an extraordinary and dazzlingly original work from one of our most gifted and interesting writers.”
Emily St. John Mandel
author of Station Eleven
“Phillips, as careful with language as she is bold with structure, captures many small sharp truths … Everyday life, here, is both tedious and fascinating, grotesque and lovely, familiar and tremendously strange. Molly — worrying about the person she is becoming, and whether that person can adequately meet a family’s needs, let alone her own — is finally alive to it all, to its terrors but also, on those rare occasions when everyone is happy (or asleep), to its incandescent joys.”
New York Times Book Review
“The Need is a chilling novel from a blazing talent. It’s also very hard to write about without spoilers, because in addition to being a cerebral meditation on motherhood at its most elemental – fierce, beatific, sanity-thieving – it’s an adroitly executed thriller with a quasi-sci-fi twist … A bracingly singular achievement, it’s surreal, blackly comic and ultimately generous.”
“This is a book about the biggest things you can imagine--the dreadful potentiality of life, the fierceness of love, and the terrifying and exhilarating mystery of motherhood. Helen Phillips writes at the nexus of science fiction and psychological realism, conjuring a narrative so mind-bending and immersive that it'll change what you see as real. She is an author at the height of her power, and we are so lucky to be living in her moment.”
author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
"Helen Phillips has created an existential page-turner that captures, with perfect sharpness, the fierce delirium of motherhood, the longing to understand the workings of our universe, and the wondrous and terrifying mystery that is time. The Need is a brain-bending heartbreaker of a novel, and definitive proof that Helen Phillips is one of the most spellbindingly original writers working today."
Laura van den Berg
author of The Third Hotel
“From the opening sentence, The Need sucked me in (I read it in one sitting) and then spat me out at the end, feeling dazed and slightly off-kilter in the best and most pleasurable way. Phillips evokes with astoundingly masterful prose the lengths to which a mother will go for her children. At once a fast-paced thriller and psychologically astute literary novel, the intensity of the plot is leavened with moments of startling tenderness.”
author of The Last Cruise and The Great Man
“Suspenseful and mysterious, insightful and tender, Phillips’ new thriller cements her standing as a deservedly celebrated author with a singular sense of story and style.”
Kirkus Starred Review
"An unforgettable tour de force that melds nonstop suspense, intriguing speculation, and perfectly crafted prose...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."
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“The Need, the eerily gorgeous new novel by Helen Phillips, fills the void, offering up the perfect, insightful look into the way motherhood warps the world around you … Phillips brilliantly captures the dissonant dualities of being a mother: the ways strength is matched with fragility, tenderness with ferocity, nurturing with palpable, almost riotous need.”