Cover Image: The New Naturals

The New Naturals

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I had high hopes for this one but as much as I wanted to love it, it just felt a little disjointed and oddly one-dimensional, despite how much potential I felt it had. didn't hate, just didn't love. probably around 3.5 stars rounded down.

thanks for the arc!

Was this review helpful?

I really dug Gabriel Bump's debut novel, Everywhere You Don't Belong, so I figured I'd give this a try. His voice/storytelling immediately drew me in! Smart, skillful character observations, and I love the premise of the utopia they're seeking. Read this if you're looking for a Millenial voice in conversation with Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower and Toni Morrison's Paradise.

Was this review helpful?

I really wanted to love The New Naturals, which has such an intriguing premise. A group of people disappointed in society try to build a utopian community and forge a better future. What’s not to love about that?

Unfortunately, the execution fell a little flat for me. The characters spend much of the book journeying towards the utopia, and I was wishing for more of the details of them building it. The ending of the book also felt anticlimactic and I wish it had expanded a little more. I thought this was a great effort, but unfortunately it didn’t hit the mark for me.

Thanks to the publisher and to NetGalley for an early copy of this book.

Was this review helpful?

This premise of exploring a utopian society had me intrigued. And being a character-driven reader, I thought I'd enjoy this more as much of the story tells why the characters want to join the underground society - their losses hardships, and suffering.

But the way the book is set up - it jumps around quite a bit, and I felt it lost its focus, even its punch.
It does have some strong and important statements at its heart about discrimination and prejudice. Overall, it is a unique literary read.

Thank you @algonquinbooks for this gifted copy.

Was this review helpful?

Really relevant literary fiction - grateful for the DRC. The New Naturals reminded me of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (especially Elting and Buchanan), I Keep My Exoskelotons to Myself ("dystopian," but very much grounded in reality; made to feel like a voyeur peeking in), and the movie Downsizing in tone and content. While I was moved by all the characters' stories, I did find it disjointed at times. I think the book would have worked better for me as a physical copy or audiobook, and I've requested it from my library to test that out!

Was this review helpful?

What a debut! The juxtaposition of the uptopia and our main characters got under my skin. Learning about why each person wanted to join did get a little tiresome, but I was ultimately very moved by this book. I look forward to what else Gabriel Bump produces!

Was this review helpful?

• Existential crises
• Feeling hopeless at the state of the world
• Snappy, yet meandering conversations

A novel with an interesting premise that falls short in execution. After a shocking tragedy, Rio and Gibraltar throw themselves into creating a new, perfect community inside a mountain. We follow four different people, each trying to find purpose and happiness in their lives, who are drawn toward this mysterious and intriguing "utopian" society.

First of all, I assumed that the main focus of this book would be on this strange utopia underground. It's what first made me want to read this book. It's very much so not the focus. Instead, we spend most of our time following four lost souls who are making their way toward the utopia. While that isn't necessarily a bad thing, I felt a little misled by the marketing synopsis.

Unfortunately, this journey toward happiness and purpose that all the characters in this novel undergo fizzles out for most of them, leaving me struggling to find the pay out for spending so much time with them. Our lack of insight into the day-to-day of the utopian community also makes it feel doomed from the start, making it's unraveling anticlimactic.

Despite all this, I appreciate Bump trying to tackle the existential dread that many of us feel when we open our news feeds. With violence, wars, pollution, and sadness at every turn, it's all too easy to feel that society as we know it is doomed. But this novel shows us that the answer to this isn't to withdraw into an underground bunker. Rather, it's about finding strength and solace in the relationships you have with the people that you love.

Was this review helpful?

There are a lot of voices in The New Naturals. Gabriel Bump tries to connect them all, but they just miss the mark for me.

The most compelling story is the origin story of Rio and Gibraltar. Their story is one I can relate to as I know people who have gone through a similar process of thought to include thinking of moving into a mountain.

I didn’t connect with the other characters with the exception of Bounce. I wish their story hadn’t been told so quickly and all over the place. I had to reread it several times to make sure I placed all of the characters involved in Bounce’s life and their impacts correctly.

The process of The New Naturals is a familiar one. It’s the characters that make it worth reading. I wish I had had more of Rio and Gibraltar in the middle stages. It would have made the ending have more feeling than it did.

This book is a quick read and escape.

Was this review helpful?

Know that this is less about the building of and living in a new utopia than about the people who want to be there. Gibraltar and Rio, academics who suffer a great loss, find a benefactor who will fund Rio's dream of a utopia in western Massachusetts. Then there are those who are seeking solace - two homeless men, a soccer player, a journalist- and their stories. Everyone has faced challenges and despair but is Rio's dream the answer? It's not the answer to others. There's a certain amount of satire here and at times the message is blunt. That said it's an interesting take on the genre. Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. For fans of literary fiction.

Was this review helpful?

If you want to read about people building a utopian society underground, that's not really what this is...

To set proper expectations - 85% of the story tells why each character wants to join the underground society. (Spoiler alert, they are unhappy, suffered great loss, searching for connection, feel lost, etc..) 5% details the physical journey each person takes to find the society. The final 10% discusses how the society is set up and what it's actually like to live there.

Also important to know - it's told in a very stream of consciousness way. You're often in each person's head jumping around within loosely connected thoughts. It doesn't always make sense. There's not much plot or action. It's sad, and in my opinion, not particularly hopeful. Some characters were just way too spoiled and/or angsty to really inspire my empathy so I spent a lot of my time annoyed. (Like, I think there's a billionaire who is bored of being rich)

I'm giving it three stars because it's not a bad story, or poorly written. It definitely tries to say things. I just wanted the focus to be on building and living within the society, and not how sad everyone was. I feel the synopsis could do a better job of setting the right expectations so that it makes it into the hands of people who are looking for this type of book.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for giving me a free eARC of this book to read in exchange for my review!

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher's for this Advanced Readers Copy of The New Naturals by Gabriel Bump!

Was this review helpful?

This novel addresses mental health from a number of different angles while still being propulsive and entertaining: a couple mourning the loss of their baby white trying to found a new society, a pair of twenty-somethings suffering from depression, and people who are experiencing homelessness because of their mental health conditions.

Was this review helpful?

Can you build a utopia where everyone is welcome and can live without prejudice and discrimination and find peace and hope? Gibraltar and Rio, college professors, have lost their child. In her despair, post partum depression, Rio sees a mountain and decides she wants to create an underground oasis where people can unite in their hope for a society where people are equal and all can belong. She spreads the word. People dismiss her idea except for a Benefactor who wants her billions to do some good. She forms a Board and allows Rio to build her vision.

We meet Ethling who seems to have a “normal” life with a wife and kids until he brings home kittens to his allergic kids. She leaves and the we find him as a derelict and drunk living under an underpass with his new best friend, also a drunk with emotional problems. They hear about the sanctuary and decide to join a group headed to Massachusetts.

The author introduces us to Sojourner, a disillusioned journalist and essayist, who cannot find her way. She is sad, depressed and fed up with life. Drinking her troubles away she meets Bounce, a bi-polar ex-soccer player who also is carrying a lifetime of regrets. With minimal financial means they see no hope.

While this book excellently explores life’s struggles, mental illness and a hope for a better world, it drops the ball in other areas. The only characters fleshed out are broken in some way. While there may be people there without such crushing issues, you have to wonder, is this a place for broken people or all people? Additionally, two of the characters never meet the rest. Their story is well written and thought provoking. They are searching for utopia but like the rest of us they never succeed. People strive to feel a sense of belonging. Utopia, as a character, felt neglected. I

Was this review helpful?

Move over dystopian book, utopian novels are here and they are INTERESTING. This book is set into motion with one of the most heartbreaking stories I've read this year and as Bump's characters seek to rebuild after a tragic loss, I was captivated by the world they build for themselves. At times, the disconnected plot lines and POVs felt a little scattered, but once things began to come together, I was all in.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with this book for review.

"The New Naturals" by Gabriel Bump takes readers on a thought-provoking journey into a world where hope and despair collide in the pursuit of a new beginning. Set against the backdrop of an abandoned restaurant in Western Massachusetts, the story centers around Rio, a young Black woman who, devastated by the loss of her newborn child, seeks solace and purpose in the creation of an underground society.

What starts as a seemingly simple idea transforms into a utopian experiment with the potential to offer sanctuary, acceptance, and equality to those who join. Bump introduces a diverse cast of characters, each driven by their own motivations, who come together in pursuit of a shared dream. Two unhoused men embark on a journey from Chicago, a disillusioned journalist seeks to be a part of this unconventional society, and a former soccer player looking for a fresh start agrees to investigate this intriguing venture.

At its core, "The New Naturals" delves deep into the yearning for meaning and belonging, as well as the desire to escape the existential challenges of life on the surface. Bump skillfully weaves together the narratives of these characters, exploring their hopes, fears, and the complexities of human nature. Readers are invited to ponder the fundamental question: can this utopian experiment truly succeed in providing the solace and equality its members seek?

Bump's writing is both engaging and thought-provoking, addressing themes of community, belonging, and the human condition. The novel challenges readers to consider the feasibility of creating a society that can provide genuine refuge from the struggles of the world above. As the story unfolds, tensions rise, and the characters must grapple with the potential consequences of their choices.

"The New Naturals" is a compelling exploration of human resilience, the pursuit of a better life, and the intricate dynamics of community. Gabriel Bump's narrative captivates with its blend of social commentary, character-driven storytelling, and its ability to provoke introspection. This novel is a powerful reminder that even in the face of adversity, the quest for a better world and a sense of belonging remains a timeless and universal aspiration.

Was this review helpful?

I enjoyed this book, but was left wanting more in a good way. It really opens your eyes to the climate issues and how we all just want a community to belong to.

Was this review helpful?

I enjoyed Bump's debut Everywhere You Don't Belong. It wasn't a perfect book, but it showed so much potential that when I saw the author's sophomore effort was on the way, I had to snag a copy.

The premise of a young Black couple starting an isolated utopian community really pulled me in. Like Everywhere You Don't Belong, The New Naturals highlights Bump's knack for language, clever turns of phrases tucked between melodic prose that consistently move the story forward. One of my favorite things about Bump's debut was the characters. Unfortunately, none of these characters stuck with me the way that Nugget, Paul, or Claude's grandmother did, but that's not to say that these characters are not also well-crafted. They just can't compare to their predecessors.

The New Naturals is a novel that seems to brush against something wonderful, but never really digs down into it. Perhaps this just comes with the satirical nature of the writing, but even the satire seems underdeveloped in this story. I feel like there's a nugget of brilliance here that doesn't quite develop. This is most evident, in my opinion, in all the various threads that are introduced and just seem to dangle loosely--entire storylines that just end, connections that aren't quite made.

Though I didn't love The New Naturals, I see some of that same potential I saw in Everywhere.... I'm hopeful that the next book will be the one that really brings all the magic together.

Was this review helpful?

It’s not hard to imagine how the main characters move from ‘regular fears’ to the need for a bunker. With climate change, massive pandemics and political turmoil this type of decisions may become more commonplace. The central question the book asks, is when do we create our own prisons? Worth the read.

Was this review helpful?