Escape From Eden by Elisa Nader

image Title: Escape From Eden
Author: Elisa Nader
Publisher: Merit Press
Format: Electronic ARC
Source: From Publisher, For Review (via Netgalley)
Overall: 3/5 

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?

My Review:

When Mia was 10 years old, she lost her father… And her life would never be the same. The loss of her father lead Mia and her family to financial and economic struggles and their eventual introduction to the Reverend. The Reverend is the religious leader of the mysterious Edenton, where 16 year old Mia and over 200 other people – referred to as the Flock – now reside, deep in the jungles of South America. Originally developed as a utopia in which its people could live simply, without concerns of finance and modern technology, Edenton is no longer the safe haven that it was years prior. Members of the Flock are selectively invited to the mysterious Prayer Circle, which harbours secrets that Mia and her companions could never have possibly imagined.

Enter the newest members of Edenton, who bring with them a troublesome 17 year old boy with a past that he is desperate to forget. Gabriel is beautiful and intriguing, and he finds in Mia something that he has lacked for years – a person who truly understands him. As the two bond, they begin to unravel the secrets of Edenton. The pair come to the same conclusion… they both desperately want out of Edenton, and back into the outside world. Escaping Edenton will prove to be dangerous and lifethreatening, and Mia and Gabriel will realize that their decision will affect not only themselves, but the lives of the rest of their Flock in the process.

Escape From Eden was a very interesting read for me. I have always had a strong interest in real-life cults and I think that Nader approached this topic very well. With groups such as cults, it is very important for a leader (or group of leaders) to maintain control over their followers, as well as make it seem as though it is for their own good in the process. Nader’s Reverend does this wonderfully. Edenton is a land that grew out of dedication and love among its members, and this dedication and love is what keeps leaders such as the Reverend in control of Edenton and its people. Escape From Eden is a clear example of how easily a good thing can be tainted and ruined – Edenton was developed out of good intentions before its leaders became money and power hungry beings. The Flock see the Reverend in a way that is irrational, they see him as their true leader, the one who has the honour of deciding what is right from wrong. It is a story of a cult. And how differently members can be affected by the same powers. It is a very good story – separate from the romance.

I was not convinced at all of the romance between Mia and Gabriel. I felt it was forced and Mia’s story could have easily been told without it. Gabriel’s character was not strongly written – I had no general attachment to him, and his on-and-off romancing of Mia just left me a bit annoyed and irritated. I hoped to learn more about the other members of Edenton. Mia and Gabriel were not the only ones affected by their attempts to escape. It would have been nice to have some back stories with Mia’s family and friends, as these were the people that she had grown up with.

Nader’s style of writing is very distinct, and I think that with further novels and stories that her writing will only improve. I do hope that Escape From Eden stays as a standalone novel, but I do see the possibilities of a sequel considering its ending. I will keep this in mind should Elisa Nader release a follow-up to this story.

In Escape From Eden, Elisa Nader enters a land in which its people have been brainwashed and mistreated. A land in which power is held by only a few and its members are taken advantage of and used. A story of a 16 year old girl who has yearned for her old life, the life she had before Edenton. And the acts that she will attempt in order to get it back. Escape From Eden was definitely a worthy read, and I think that readers who do have an interest in cults will find a story worth learning in it.


Worth Reading!

**Please Note: This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it.**
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