Title: Escape from Eden
Author: Elisa Nader
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Publisher: Merit PressElise
Publication Date: 18th August 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis (from goodreads):
Since the age of ten, Mia has lived under the iron fist of the fundamentalist preacher who lured her mother away to join his fanatical family of followers. In Edenton, a supposed “Garden of Eden” deep in the South American jungle, everyone follows the Reverend’s strict but arbitrary rules—even the mandate of whom they can marry. Now sixteen, Mia dreams of slipping away from the armed guards who keep the faithful in, and the curious out. When the rebellious and sexy Gabriel, a new boy, arrives with his family, Mia sees a chance to escape.
But the scandalous secrets the two discover beyond the compound’s façade are more shocking than anything they ever imagined. While Gabriel has his own terrible secrets, he and Mia bond together, more than friends and freedom fighters. But is there time to think of each other as they race to stop the Reverend’s paranoid plan to free his flock from the corrupt world? Can two teenagers crush a criminal mastermind? And who will die in the fight to save the ones they love from a madman who’s only concerned about his own secrets?
Despite living in Edenton since she was ten, Mia longs to know what’s outside the perimeter. She misses the freedom of drawing and the memories she has of her father. Now she’s sixteen and things are changing inside the commune. There’s a new mysterious boy, Gabriel, who has his own plans of escaping. And there’s the prayer circle that girls are chosen to join but the details of are never discussed, When blind faith in the Edenton’s way of life is tested – Mia feels like she can’t be a part of a this way of living anymore.
I haven’t read many books which are about people being stuck within a cult before – and I think that’s a word that many would apply to Edenton. I commend Nader on the way she managed to describe the day-to-day living and the commitment her citizens of Edenton have in God and the Reverend. This is a scary place – their whole-hearted belief in the Reverend and his decisions is something that I find revolting and yet – I liked how Nader had her citizens following him passionately and yet without question.
Mia is a great character. She’s been so sheltered within the Edenton community that she seems to be naive but she’s questioning. I liked her innocence and how despite her lack of street smarts, she wasn’t stupid. And Gabriel was great comic relief at the start but he has his own share of secrets. I love characters who evolve over the course of a novel and both Mia and Gabriel did. Action wise – things progressed at a great rate. There was enough drama and adventure along with catastrophic events to keep things interesting but they felt natural in the way they unfolded.
This is a book that contains some fairly heavy issues. The compound which seems idyllic and paradise at first is hiding some incredible – and not in a good way – secrets. I can imagine that some of the actions that take place within its razorwire fences would make some readers upset and feel uncomfortable reading about them. For me – I was impressed that Nader dared to go there. She really impressed upon me as a reader just how bad the commune was and just why Mia was going to sacrifice her mother and everything else to free herself from the Reverend’s grasp.
I enjoyed Escape From Eden. It’s a great first novel dealing with tough issues and featuring some interesting and endearing characters.
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About the Author
Hi. I’m Elisa. I like cheese and reading and TV show marathons. Writing is scary, but not as scary as, say, Civil War amputations. I’m an Aquarius. Uh… let’s see… I’m not very good at writing my own biography. Or autobiography. I guess this is reading more like a slightly incoherent personal ad.
There’s also a tour wide giveaway which is open internationally. Look at the prizes! I love that there is a notebook just like the one Mia would have used to sketch in!
(2) Sets of Moleskine Sketchbook, set of Le Pen colored fine tip pens, a copy of Otherkin and Othermoon by Elisa’s crit partner Nina Berry, and a personalized copy of Escape from Eden