Adrianne Finlay previews “Cut Off” in Thursday reading

LAUREN MCGUILL

The Final Thursday Reading Series had its first reading this past Thursday on August 27th at the Hearsts Center for the Arts in Cedar Falls. While the series is typically hosted indoors, because of COVID-19, members had to improvise. Instead the reading was held in the beautiful backyard of the Hearst Center. While the heat was a bit overpowering, the peaceful atmosphere, stunning greenery and the excitement of those who attended made up for the lack of air conditioning.

The evening opened up with a speech from Jim O’Loughlin welcoming everyone back, and informing the audience of his new book, “The Last Caucus in Iowa,” which details the story of O’Loughlin seeing as many presidential candidates who visited Iowa within the last year. The book will be available later this year. O’Loughlin then read his short piece, “What the Pandemic Taught Me About Soup.  O’Loughlin’s piece shared a humorous yet heartfelt stout about making soup with leftovers from the various meals he and his family made while stuck at home, and finding ways to work day by day.

The reading’s feature speaker was Young Adult author Adrianne Finley. Finley talked about her new YA book, “Cut Off”. The book tells the story of a new virtual reality show, where contestants have to survive in the wild on their own before “tapping out.” But things take a drastic turn when the four final contestants realize that no one is coming to save them, regardless if they “tap out” or not. Finley’s book mixes science fiction, romance and mystery that will keep readers questioning until the very end. Finley shared the prologue to her story and answered questions, along with sharing her inspiration for the book.

Finley shared how she watched the show “Alone” on the History Channel, a reality tv show where contestants have to survive in the wild for as long as they can until they give up and call for help. “I thought, ‘well wouldn’t it just be awful if no one answered?’ That’s the story I wanted to end up writing,” Finley said.

After the reading, Finley had “Cut Off” and her previous book, “Your One and Only” available for signing. The book is available now, and the next Final Thursday will be in September.