I always find it interesting to note how quickly a book captures my interest and whether that interest is maintained throughout the entire story. I’ve read books where the first few pages grabbed me in a vice grip but by Chapter 4 I was ho-humming over the story progression. There are a whole other list of books where I was moderately engaged the whole time, enjoyed the story, but would never have given up my own writing time or sleep to finish the book. Then there are books like Escape from Eden where the first couple of chapters were just okay but then all of a sudden the book just takes off like a whirlwind and I can’t think, don’t want to work, and don’t want to do anything else but read.
So I admit it. I wasn’t hooked until I got about 10-15% into this book. Oh I enjoyed it. The writing is excellent and I had vague hints that the story was really going to get interesting soon, but I wasn’t hooked. But then there’s the cookie scene and Mia gets an invitation to prayer circle and it was like the heavens opened and the rain just poured out in a deluge (which actually happened in the book as well on her way to prayer circle) and all of a sudden I HAD TO KNOW HOW IT ENDED RIGHT NOW.
But, backing up a bit. Eden is really Edenton, a commune in the tropics. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. Commune. Cult. Jim Jones. Well, you wouldn’t be totally wrong. This is definitely a cult. You see the evil cult leader (the Reverend) from the first few pages and you just know that this guy is a bad, bad man. That fact is confirmed pretty quickly too. There are all of the standard religious zealotish behaviors that you would expect from a cult along with a few things you wouldn’t expect.
Mia and Gabriel are the main characters. Mia has been in Edenton for years after her mother moves her there. Gabriel is a new resident. But as a new resident, he still remembers the outside world. He’s significantly more jaded than Mia, has practical experience (such as driving a car) and is under no delusions at all that Edenton is a good, safe, and happy place right from the get-go.
The story follows the horrendous events that transpire as Mia and Gabriel discover their connection and eventually try to “Escape from Eden”.
There isn’t a lot I can say about the details of the story without giving spoilers, so let’s talk about why you should (or potentially shouldn’t) read this book. I’ll start with the latter.
This book is marketed as YA in many places that I found online. Well, Mia and Gabriel may be teenagers, but the themes in this book are often mature and disturbing. The themes could be triggers for some survivors of abuse. That isn’t to say that I found the scenes to be overly graphic, but they are definitely mature. Be aware. The Reverend is a very, very bad man. Have I mentioned that before? Yes? Well, it bears repeating.
That said, this book is completely believable. The dialog is believable. The action sequences are believable. The events are totally and completely plausible. In my mind, this makes the story even more disturbing. I truly believe that this could happen.
Now, let’s get back to the good stuff. The writing is fantastic. Editing, fantastic. Pacing, fantastic. Once the action starts, it doesn’t stop. I loved seeing the relationship between Gabriel and Mia develop. They are fighting for their lives, so their romance almost goes unnoticed at times, which I think is how it should be. I may be a romance author myself, but I find the “oh we just met and all of a sudden we’re totally and completely in love” plot point hard to swallow unless you’re going to explain it with some sort of paranormal bent to the characters. With Mia and Gabriel, it grew naturally, a little bit at a time, and never took over from the dramatic elements of the plot.
The reactions of the other characters in the book were also spot on. At one point (no spoilers), one person is away from the compound. She’s spent almost her entire life there and though she’s just been slapped in the face with the evilness of it all, she wants to go back. Why wouldn’t she? Edenton is all she knows.
Details like that really sell the story.
5 of 5 stars, but be aware, Escape from Eden may not be suitable for sensitive readers or those under the age of 16.
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