Escape From Eden – Elisa Nader
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?
Review: If you’ve paid creepily close attention to my reviews, you probably know that I have a thing for cult books. I’ve read a lot of them. Like, a lot of them. Unfortunately, Escape from Eden wasn’t one of my favorites.
Sixteen-year-old Mia lives in a Jonestown-like community deep in the South American rainforest. She dreams of escaping from her life of constant backbreaking labor, but she has no idea how to go about doing it. Then she meets the rebellious (and unbearably sexy) Gabriel. Together, they uncover the secrets of their community and use them to defeat the corrupt Reverend.
If you love romance and thrillers, you’ll probably like this book a lot more than I did. Mia falls in insta-lust with Gabriel within the first few pages. Then the plot takes off and doesn’t slow down. This book is intense. If you like action, then you’ll love it.
My problem is that I don’t believe the action. The characters make decisions that don’t seem logical to me. The book starts with the Reverend murdering eleven people in front of the entire community. Nobody reacts to this. Most people don’t seem to care at all. People in cults aren’t brainless robots, so I have an issue with this mass non-reaction to murder.
Then there’s the whole escape thing. Escaping from the community seems pretty straightforward to me. There’s a road that connects the community to the nearest town, which Mia knows is 10 miles away. Mia and Gabriel have snuck past the guards before. Why is it so hard to figure out how to escape? Start walking and don’t stop.
I also had a hard time believing the personality-altering injection thing. And the ending . . . just . . . no. We all adore The Hunger Games, but . . . no. The plot is too farfetched for my tastes.
I did love that the book is Jonestown inspired. At first, I thought that would make the story predictable, but it isn’t predictable at all. Despite the believability issues, I appreciate that the author deviates from the real-life script.
The writing isn’t great. I actually got confused during one of the action scenes, but the dialogue is where this novel shines. The banter between Gabriel and Mia is kind of hilarious. I like both main characters and wanted them to live happily ever after.
“We're hiding in a tree with people chasing us. Do you really think this is an appropriate time to make suggestive comments?” – Escape from Eden
This isn’t my favorite cult novel, but I’m not the right audience for it. You’d probably love it if you like romance and action. And if you don’t mind books that push the boundaries of believability.
“‘What is the matter with you?’
‘You want an alphabetical list?’” – Escape from Eden