A Better World: A Novel (Hardcover)

A Better World: A Novel By Sarah Langan Cover Image

A Better World: A Novel (Hardcover)

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A cunning, outside-the-box satirical thriller about a family’s odyssey into an exclusive enclave for the wealthy that might not be as ideal as it seems.

You’ll be safe here. That’s what the tour guide tells the Farmer-Bowens when they visit Plymouth Valley, a walled-off company town with clean air, pantries that never go empty, and blue-ribbon schools. On a very trial basis, the company offers to hire Linda Farmer’s hus­band, Russell, a numbers genius, and relocate her whole family to this bucolic paradise for the .0001 percent. Though Linda will have to sacrifice her medical career back home, the family jumps at the opportunity. They’d be crazy not to take it. With the outside world falling apart, this might be the Farmer-Bowens’ last chance.

But fitting in takes work. The pampered locals distrust outsiders, snubbing Linda, Russell, and their teen twins. And the residents fervently adhere to a group of customs and beliefs called Hollow...but what exactly is Hollow?

It’s Linda who brokers acceptance, by volunteering her medical skills to the most influential people in town through their pet charity, ActHollow. In the months afterward, everything seems fine. Sure, Russell starts hyper­ventilating through a paper bag in the middle of the night, and the kids have become secretive, but living in Plymouth Valley is worth sacrificing their family’s closeness, isn’t it? At least they’ll survive. The trouble is, the locals never say what they think. They seem scared. And Hollow’s ominous culminating event, the Plymouth Valley Winter Festival, is coming.

Linda is warned by her husband and her powerful new friends to stop asking questions. But the more she learns, the more frightened she becomes. Should the Farmer-Bowens be fighting to stay, or fighting to get out?

Sarah Langan’s latest novel, A Better World, is gleefully ruthless in its dissection of wealth, power, and privilege, timely in its depiction of a self-destructing world—and it is a prescient warning to us all.
Sarah Langan, a Columbia MFA graduate and three-time recipient of the Bram Stoker Award, is the author of several novels including A Better World and Good Neighbors. She grew up on Long Island and she currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughters. Find out more at SarahLangan.com.
Product Details ISBN: 9781982191061
ISBN-10: 1982191066
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: April 9th, 2024
Pages: 368
Language: English
“Sarah Langan never ceases to amaze: A Better World is terrifying, shocking, sinister . . . and yet heartfelt and often hilarious. Langan has created a United States of the future that feels darkly recognizable—a depository of our current fears about environment, government, health. Her bright, shiny, twisted little town of tomorrow, Plymouth Valley, is a dark, thrilling indictment on the choices we make today.” —Gillian Flynn

"A Better World is truly fantastic. A moving portrait of a woman trying to save her family in a poisoned world. Mordant wit, insightful social commentary, and so much heart, Sarah Langan has written a gloriously humane novel."—Victor LaValle

"A five-minutes-into-the-future dystopian satire that’s so sharp and bloodthirsty you might think of Harvest Home as reimagined by Ira Levin. But the wit and empathy and thrumming cosmic dread are all pure Sarah Langan. It is, indeed, a better world with books like this out there."—Nat Cassidy, bestselling author of Nestlings and Mary: An Awakening of Terror

"When my sister asked me to recommend a novel for her to read at the hospital while she was giving birth, I suggested a book by Sarah Langan. While her dark, unsettling novels rooted in familial and community dysfunction might not seem like the most obvious choice of reading material for an expectant mother, her books are compelling enough to distract you from everything going on around you (including labor pains!) and, at the same time, so sensitively attuned to the delicacies of character that they leave you with a deeper understanding of the relationships in your life that matter most. A Better World is a fearless, frightening, yet strangely reassuring book that takes a pitiless look at the world we're building for our children—and then introduces us to a family doing its best to navigate that terrifying world with love, compassion, creativity, and humor. I loved it, and if my sister decides to bring another child into this rapidly disintegrating planet, I know exactly what book I'll recommend she take with her to the delivery room."—Kristen Roupenian, author of Cat Person and Other Stories

"A woman in a troubled marriage moves to a perfect town riddled with secrets, and starts to question everything. Part dystopian horror, part domestic thriller, with a core of wry social commentary, A Better World is gripping literary fiction at its finest." —Sarah Pinborough, New York Times bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes

“Suspenseful, scathing, simultaneously deeply disturbing and wildly funny. . . . A delicious skewering of the Anthropocene and our desperation for ‘beautification’ at whatever cost. I couldn’t put it down.”—Julia Fine, author of Maddalena and the Dark and The Upstairs House

“A chilling, heartbreaking exploration of our modern psyche. Sarah Langan has never been better or more insightful. There’s more than one way to sell your soul, and Langan knows them all.”—Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Road of Bones and The House of Last Resort

"Perfectly constructed social horror with emotional heft. A Rorschach test of all our modern fears anchored by the honest, human, heroic characters at the heart of it. A brilliant piece of writing."—Alma Katsu, author of The Fervor

"An apocalyptic thriller that becomes more terrifying with every turn of the page."Booklist, starred review

“In the near-future world where Bram Stoker Award winner Langan sets this ambitious thriller, climate disaster and rampant crime have transformed life into a struggle for survival […] Blending suspense, tragedy, and flashes of comedy, Langan keeps her cards close to the vest as the Farmer-Bowens’ perfect escape morphs into a sinister trap. This deeply disturbing tale will keep readers up at night."—Publishers Weekly

"A potent cocktail of horror, suspense and thriller, A Better World is a cautionary tale of a family’s sacrifice gone wrong and a high-water mark in the career of a novelist who’s already won three Bram Stoker Awards. My only warning: Don’t start this book on a school night. Beware the sacrifice!"—LA Times

Praise for Good Neighbors 

"Ah, sinkholes. So random, so terrifying, they turn neighborhoods into 'oozing wounds'—especially when grievances fester angrily underneath the surface. Sarah Langan plumbs these literal and metaphorical depths as they rip apart a once-bucolic suburb in her disturbing and mordantly funny new novel, Good Neighbors, a departure and an extension of her early horror fiction." —Sarah WeinmanNew York Times Book Review

"One of the creepiest, most unnerving deconstructions of American suburbia I've ever read. Langan cuts to the heart of upper middle class lives like a skilled surgeon." —NPR

"A modern-day Crucible, Good Neighbors brilliantly explores the ease with which a careless word can wreak havoc and the terrifying power of mob mentality. Beneath the surface of a suburban utopia, madness lurks. The veneer of civility among close neighbors disguises hypocrisy, envy, and hatred. Langan deftly unveils the psychology behind her character’s actions with blistering prose and spot-on depictions. She is a writer to watch!" —Liv Constantine, bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish

"Good Neighbors is a wickedly funny, unnerving puzzle box of a novel. Sarah Langan has a delightfully twisted sensibility." —Dan Chaon, author of Ill Will

"In Sarah Langan's amazing, riveting Good Neighbors, we sift through the wreckage of a neighborhood, trying to make sense of the violence and hidden darkness of a small community in the aftermath of disaster. Langan is an inventive, confident writer, with such a sharp sense of humor, and she so deftly handles the complex ways in which we find ourselves inextricably linked to each other, how little it takes to push us over the edge. A chilling, compulsively readable novel that looks toward the future in order to help us understand how we live now." —Kevin Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Nothing to See Here

“Sarah Langan is a phenomenal talent with a wicked sense of wry humor. Good Neighbors knocked me out. Like Shirley Jackson's novels, Langan's work blends a bleak streak with an underlying sense of the humane that wrung my heart." —Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling

"Good Neighbors was such a fun read—fun in a brilliant, twisted, dark, compulsive-reading kind of way! I loved the structure of it, with the little hints Langan threw my way about the Maple Street Murders—I just had to keep reading, because I had to know what happened. She is so good at showing how the idle gossip of suburbia can turn darker, malevolent, and downright dangerous. Wonderful stuff!" —Claire Fuller, author of Bitter Orange

“You have to read Good Neighbors. Through Langan's gift for mood and setting, I was absolutely transported to Maple Street—I feel like I lived in this book, walked in it, dreamed in it. The characters were strikingly real and I was utterly invested in their individual journeys. All of it—the characters, the setting, the sinkhole, the heat—made this book the masterpiece that it is. Real and sad and almost painfully moving, Good Neighbors is a novel I will never forget.” —Sally Hepworth, bestselling author of The Mother-in-Law

"Good Neighbors is a riveting critique of American suburbia. Langan deftly confronts social mores and beliefs as she tears all the ugliness down to make something dangerous and beautiful. The monsters of Maple Street have never been so us.” —Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World

"In the wonderfully inventive Good Neighbors, Sarah Langan takes her readers on a wild ride through suburbia. As sinkholes open and rumors rise, I couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out what new terrible event would befall these fascinating characters, each with a secret sorrow. A gripping read." —Margot Livesey, New York Times bestselling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy and The Boy in the Field

"A brilliant story. I was completely absorbed by the world Sarah Langan created. The interspersing of the media excerpts was inspired and my interest was piqued and then my assumptions were blown away by the end. I even felt a little sorry for the monster that is Rhea. Clever, arresting and thought-provoking, Good Neighbors gripped hold of me like the best kind of thriller." —Melanie Golding, author of Little Darlings

"There's a monster in each of us, in all of us, and there's a sinkhole in our hearts, too. Good Neighbors will walk you right up to the lip of that cavity, and make you look in, at your own monstrousness." —Stephen Graham Jones, acclaimed author of The Only Good Indians

"A creepy standout for readers who want an extra kick to their suburban dramas." Booklist (starred review)

"An incredibly dark (and surprisingly fun) page-turner." —Kirkus Reviews

"Where the hell has Sarah Langan been? Because she suddenly pops up again after being MIA for eleven years and shotguns everyone in the face with an all-American horror novel about friendships—deep, shallow, toxic, true—that's unpredictable enough to make every page-turn stomach-crampingly stressful." —Grady Hendrix, New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

"Witty dialogue abounds, and Langan sets up an ambitious structure by incorporating tabloid excerpts of the Wildes’ past and studies of the sinkhole published in the future. This sharp, propulsive novel pulls off a maximalist variation on suburban gossip gone wrong." —Publishers Weekly

"[A] mesmerizing novel. . . . A must-read from the Bram Stoker Award-winning author (she's known for her horror stories) that offers both page-turning suspense and brilliant social commentary." AARP: "Winter Fiction Preview: 20 Novels for 2021"

"Langan weaves interviews and news clips into her tightly written, fast-paced narrative, conveying the infectious spread and mutation of stories goaded by media sensationalism and attention-seeking neighbors. As gossip and rumors swell and proliferate, the stakes grow exponentially as well. The richly complex main characters reveal flawed pasts and duplicitous natures as the story transforms into a witch hunt. . . . Intricate and edgy, Good Neighbors is a descent into depraved suburban drama, perfect for fans of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Stephen King-style thrills." —BookPage