Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Today I will be reviewing Escape from Eden, by Elisa Nader, followed by an interview.
Thanks for stopping by!
Escape from EdenCategory: Young Adult
Publisher: Merit Press
Publication Date: 8/18/13
Format: eARC
Pages: 272
Source: Received from publisher for review
Rating: 4 stars
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?

I want to quickly point out that, for those who do not like books about religion, Escape from Eden is not a religious book. Yes, it does take place in a religious cult, but the story is essentially about two teens who are desperate to escape, are faced with shocking revelations, and are faced with the ultimate choice.
I've always been a bit fascinated with cults. I know that sound weird, right? The Jonestown Massacre happened a few months after I was born, so I obviously don't remember that, but it's an event that I remember being mentioned from a young age. Then there was the Branch Davidian tragedy that was also heavily covered by media. Then take into consideration that I had the poo scared out of me when I went to a church service with a friend that felt more like the beginnings of a horror movie. With the promise of a better life to attract people into joining, cults are kind of the ultimate dystopian tale. There is no huge cataclysmic event or war to change the world and cause the shift, just the ravings and promises of a lunatic.
Escape to Eden was a heavy-topic story, but didn't read like a heavy book. This may seem confusing or contradictory, but that is the best way I could think to describe it. From the outside, the issues faced in the book, about freedom of choice, slavery, sacrifice, make Escape to Eden seem like a really heavy, draining read. The author, though, did a great job of presenting the story in a way that evenly revealed the disturbing conditions of Edenton, and the people in power, so that I was able to absorb the revelations without feeling overwhelmed.
Escape to Eden read like a movie. The author did an excellent job of describing the Edenton compound, the jungle surrounding it, the people who inhabit it. I could imagine everything so clearly. The began with Mia's thoughts of escape, wanting a life of choice. Once she meets Gabriel, then becomes part of a horrific event, the pace quickly speeds up. Revelation after revelation is thrown at Mia and Gabriel, never giving me a chance to lose interest. I liked that despite the obvious attraction between Mia and Gabriel, and that she does have thoughts about him at times, the focus is always on escape.
Escape to Eden was a truly interesting story filled with action, sorrow, and hope.
Favorite Quote:

  "You know, Gabriel," Juanita said, "the word 'bridge' isn't in the Bible."
  "It's not?" Gabriel asked and I couldn't help feeling he was humoring us. "And why is that?"
  Juanita's face fell as she remembered one of the Reverend's sermons.
  "Because," I said, reciting what I could recall. "God's people must pass through the dangerous currents of suffering and death, not simply ride over them."
  "Suffering and death for God's people, huh?" Gabriel peered down into the ditch. "I guess if I was going to fly my atheist flag, now would be the time."   ~eARC, 44%

  "Excuse me," Gabriel said in English, raising his hand. "The Ugly American here. Do you plan on subtitling this conversation or should I go ahead and make up a story in my head? Because my version includes a hot shower, about fourteen hours of sleep, and fried chicken."   ~eARC, 52%

Author Interview

What inspired you to write a story that dealt with cults?
  Cults are fascinating. In the seventies, people were so afraid of cults there was a special congressional session on “the Cult Phenomenon.” People thought cults were the most dangerous threat to our country. I think that’s when the mythos of traditional cults really hit the height of infamy. 

 I knew about the most famous cults: the Moonies, the Manson Family, and, of course, The People’s Temple — a church that created a commune in Jonestown, Guyana, South America. That cult was the inspiration for ESCAPE FROM EDEN.

I would imagine you learned many interesting facts while researching for the book. Can you tell us about one?
  Before the research, I was more familiar with cults that were self-destructive, (Jonestown, Order of the Solar Temple, Heaven’s Gate), but there are a number of cults that have attacked the general public: Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh founded several communities in Oregon in the eighties and, allegedly, the cult poisoned hundreds with Salmonella to rig elections in the cult’s favor and Aum Shinrokyo, a cult originating in Japan, attacked Tokyo’s subway system with Sarin gas in 1995, killing twelve and injuring 5,000 (the cult has now been listed as a terrorist organization).
Did you ever suffer from writer's block while writing this book?
  A little. This story seemed to flow out of me fairly quickly. I made major revisions after the first draft but there wasn’t a time where I was staring at a blank screen for hours weeping silently into a glass of wine. The only way I recover from writer’s block is to write through it (which I tell myself while weeping silently into a glass of wine).

What would you say is the overall message of Escape to Eden?
  Ask questions, be curious, and don’t take what people tell you as fact. Think for yourself, and knowledge is better than blind acceptance.

Is there a particular book/author that has inspired you?
  I’ve always admired Michael Grant. His writing is so smart and gutsy. He’ll take a reader crazy, twisted places. When he agreed to blurb ESCAPE FROM EDEN I almost fainted. Then when I read his blurb, I was floored. What an incredible honor.

Laini Taylor’s voice in all her books makes me weepy with love and appreciation for the written word. 

Can you tell us about a current or future project?
:  I’m working on a project inspired by the wonderful eighties movie The Legend of Billie Jean. Rent it. You won’t be disappointed.

**Thanks to Elisa for stopping by** 

Purchase Escape to Eden

Connect with Elisa Nader
Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook



  1. This sounds really good...I'm fascinated by cults too!

  2. I'm not religious at all, but for me, cults are exciting to read about, too. I don't know why, maybe it's because it seems like such a brainwash or something. Oooh, it read like a movie? That's interesting. I think the topic itself suits ell for a movie script though. Oh, and a female MC who doesn't put love before her goals? That's AWESOME! So glad you enjoyed it:)

  3. I haven't seen this book around but I must say that I'm really curious. Cults are something never lived here as my country is old-fashioned when it comes to the religion. The main character sounds really kick-ass, and I love that. Thanks for stopping by :)

  4. This definitely sounds like a different kind of book and you have me very curious. Great review and great interview.

  5. Hm. You know, I might not pick this one up, but it does sound interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I signed up for the tour of this book and I'm looking forward to reading it.
    I read a book about a cult a few weeks ago and was surprised by how much I enjoy it. I can tell that this is one that I will enjoy as well because it seems really interesting. It sounds like it's action-packed as well!
    Great review, Andrea!

  7. This sounds really interesting. I don't think I have heard of it before. Cults are intriguing to me also. Fabulous review hon!!

  8. Wow! I grew up in church and I'm still fascinated by cults. Great review, I'm gonna look into this one

  9. This book sounds really good! I've always been fascinated by cults too, and wondered how people so easily give up their free will. Your review was really thorough, and I love the questions that you asked the author! Very Insightful :)

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

  10. I love the premise of this book plus the fact that it reads like a movie is amazing! This is my kind of contemporary guilty pleasure read. I really respond well to these kinds of books plus cults are fascinating. The leaders are phenomenal brain washers, curious to see how that will work out here.


  11. I am fine with religion being in a book if it fits the story and doesn't preach. This sounds interesting and am curious after reading your review...thanks Andrea!

  12. The cult is such an interesting premise and glad this was well done

  13. I find cults very interesting as well, Andrea. Escape from Eden is a book that I have on my radar for this reason. And after reading your review, I think I'll enjoy it. Especially since you said it reads like a movie. :)

    Thanks for the fab review and for the author interview as well. The research she did is interesting. And I like that she was trying to impart a message - particularly not believing everything people say. AND it's so cool Michael Grant agreed to read her book! :)

  14. WOW...this book actually does sound intriguing! Ever since I started watching The Following, I have been fascinated with cults and their inner workings, so I can see why Elisa would choose to write about such a topic. It really is fascinating. Its not a topic I've read in books before, so it'll be very cool to see how it works out. Plus, Mia and Gabriel sound like great characters. I'm glad you enjoyed this! Thanks for the great review and interview, Andrea! :D

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

  15. I did hesitate when I read about this one. Glad you liked it, pal.

  16. What an interesting interview and your review is so informative. I have been really curious and somewhat hesitant about this, but I am convinced I need to check it out. Thanks!


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