Escape from Eden
Author: Elisa Nader
Publication Date: August 18th 2013
Genre: Thriller, Young Adult
(Available on Kindle at the Promo price of $1.99 until Jan 31st)
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?
When I first started reading Escape from Eden, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. It didn't really feel like something that I would enjoy. For once, I was very glad to be wrong. This book definitely took me by surprise. It actually reminds me of a book I had to read during my undergrad called The Rapture of Canaan, about another teenage girl trapped in a fanatical religious compound with distinct "cult-like" behaviors and ideals. Both took me a few pages to get into. Jumping into a world like that is definitely a shock, so it was one of those books that took me a little while to know that I liked it and was going to continue reading it.
Unlike everyone else in the compound, Mia has a mind of her own and begins questioning the life she is living - the life her mother forced her into when she was ten years old and not old enough to make her own decisions. Everyone else seems to be content - happy even - to live the lives that the "good" Reverend has set out for them. Doing assigned chores/jobs, wearing a set uniform, and not questioning a word that comes out of the reverend's mouth. Mia just can't do that, though. When Gabriel arrives, Mia is drawn to him. The discontent he proudly shows mirrors the feelings in her heart. He is also very attractive, which Mia doesn't know what to do with, not used to being attracted to anyone. Both have longings to escape. Neither could fathom the despicable-ness of the man that is supposed to be leading and protecting his flock. Just escaping suddenly isn't worth it. They've got to completely stop him.
Elisa Nader did a wonderful job setting up this isolated community inside the world of her novel. It felt like a real place, with real, all-too-trusting people who just wanted someone and something to believe in. Things like this have definitely happened in the world, so Nader tapped into something that had the potential o go too far, but she want just far enough. I wanted to jump into the book and punch the revered myself. It was obvious from the beginning that there was something wrong in that compound. Thriller it definitely was.
There were a few spots I had problems understanding what was going on, but those were part where Mia was having problems understanding too. Otherwise, I didn't have any problems with this book - unless you count wanting to slap a bunch of the characters for the ways they treated Mia and the others.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read, a thriller that keeps you guessing, or just a good YA novel to read.