(Review): The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson

(Review): The Boundless Sublime by Lili WilkinsonThe Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson

Published by Allen & Unwin on July 27th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Family, Fiction, General, Realistic Fiction, Social Issues, Suspense, Thrillers, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Click here to buy the book from AmazonBooktopiaBook DepositoryAngus and Robertson
Ruby Jane Galbraith is empty. Her family has been torn apart and it's all her fault.The only thing that makes sense to her is Fox - a gentle new friend who is wise, soulful and clever, yet oddly naive about the ways of the world. He understands what she's going through and he offers her a chance to find peace. Fox belongs to a group called the Institute of the Boundless Sublime - and Ruby can't stay away from him. So she is also drawn into what she discovers is a terrifying, secretive community that is far from the ideal world she expected.Can Ruby find the courage to escape? Is there any way she can save Fox too? And is there ever an escape from the far-reaching influence of the Institute of the Boundless Sublime?A gripping YA novel about an ordinary girl who is seduced into a modern-day cult.'A brilliant, searing trip into the world of cults and brainwashing. Her best book yet.' - Justine Larbalestier

This is my review for Lili Wilkinson’s newest novel, The Boundless Sublime. It’s a creepy and captivating read which will keep you hooked right up until the last page.

If you want to learn more about this fantastic book, please check out the guest post I posted as part of the Boundless Sublime blog tour where Lili shares with us some of the inspiration behind the novel. 

Ruby’s family fell apart and she blames herself. When she meets Fox, there’s an instant connection. He seems to see her when everyone else sees right though her. He’s not like anyone else she knows. He is childlishly naive about so many things and yet has a wisdom beyond his years. He offers Ruby a chance to get to know him better and introduces her to The Institute – a commune of sorts. As Ruby starts to spend more time with Fox’s family, she also gets to know more about how he lives. Are things how they seem on the surface or is there something more sinister and dangerous about The Institute?

I’ve read a few books about cults in the past. Robin Klein’s Someone Might Hear You was one of my favourite books as a teen and I more recently read and adored The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes.

The Boundless Sublime blows those other books out of the water.

What sets this book apart is how it shows the entire journey. Where other books show you people desperate to leave these sects, The Boundless Sublime explores why someone might find themselves drawn into such a society.

Ruby is hurting and very angry at the beginning of the book. Her mother has checked out of reality and her family is in pieces. Then she meets Fox. He represents so much of what she wants. He has a family and wants her to join it. And the Institute does appear to have good values on the surface. Clean living, a lack of dependence on possessions and forgiveness for past sins. Ruby isn’t entirely naive to what the Institute may be either. Her best friend tries to tell her she thinks the secretive community may be a cult (complete with yoga and “weird sex stuff”). When Ruby makes the decision to spend more time with Fox and his family at the Institute, she knows what she’s giving up but she is captivated by the Institute’s offer of a better and happier way of living.

The Boundless Sublime is a beguiling and frightening novel. It was scary in just how realistic Ruby’s story was. Her seduction by the Institute was believable and made complete sense – which just made it all the more creepy. The choices Ruby made and her journey felt right even with the foreboding sense that something terrible was going to happen to her. There are twists and turns along the way which keep me guessing right up until the end. It’s a compelling read you won’t want to put down and it will make you look at seemingly harmless things in a completely new light.

Many thanks to Allen and Unwin for the review copy. 



  1. So she ends up at the Institute of the Boundless Sublime, where a man who likes everyone to call him Daddy and claims he s thousands of years old gives her a new name and tells her she s extraordinary.

    • Essentially yes. But if you break any story down to the bare minimal it can sound ridiculous. As cliched as the saying it’s the journey not the destination which counts – that’s true in this case for me. The whole cult thing was a red flag from the very beginning but I think the beauty of this novel is how even knowing how badly things would turn out I felt I understood why she made the choices she did.

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