Saturday, 2 November 2013

Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader

Title: Escape from Eden
Author: Elisa Nader 
Publisher: Merit Press
Released: July 18th 2013
Pages: 272 (eBook)

Since the age of ten, Mia has rebelled against the iron fist of a fundamentalist preacher who lured her mother away to join a fanatical family of followers. At "Edenton," a supposed Garden of Eden deep in the South American jungle, everyone follows the reverend's strict and arbitrary rules--even about whom they can marry. Mia dreams of slipping away from the armed guards who keep the faithful in and the curious out. 

When the rebellious Gabe, a new boy, arrives with his family, Mia sees her chance to escape and to free her family. But the scandalous secrets the two discover beyond the compound's facade are more shocking than anything they imagined. While Gabe has his own terrible secrets, he and Mia bond together, more than friend and freedom fighters. But there's no time to think about love as they race against time to stop the reverend's paranoid plan to free his flock--but not himself--from this corrupt world. 

Can two kids crush a criminal mastermind? And who will die in the fight to save the ones they love from a madman whose only concern is his own secrets?

Oh my days, what an emotional rollercoaster! When I first read the Escape from Eden synopsis, I was intrigued. Although I don't really like books that have a heavily religious aspect, I was happily surprised by the fact that although it talks about religion, the book is about a lot more than that. Nader has created a unique idea - a paradise in the modern world where struggling people seek to find refuge under the guidance of the Reverand. However, the reality of this "Eden" is far from what the Bible promised, and the main character, Mia, alongside rebel Gabriel are about to find out what temptations lurk beneath the façade.

The idea of a man attempting to gain control and make this perfect Eden isn't something that hasn't been done before in humanity's past. In fact, when it was attempted before it did backfire, which kind of set the grounds for what was going to happen in this scenario. A group of people being brainwashed by a fascist is something that's extremely controversial in our society, mostly because it rests far too close to home in our history. It was interesting to see Nader's interpretation, and what she would do to try and change the outcome.

Mia was a pretty awesome protagonist - she didn't take nonsense from anyone! Nader characterised her to be a believable teenage girl in such an extreme environment, allowing the reader to be transported into the story alongside her. She was courageous, feisty, and she wanted to get to the bottom of her question she had, meaning that we, too, were able to have all of our questions answered.

I think Gabriel was a brilliant counter-part to Mia's personality. Their quirks bounced off one another, creating an intense chemistry between the two, whilst making their exchanges relateable and believable. I also liked the fact that despite the situation they were in, aspects of teen angst crept in every now and then, reinforcing the idea that essentially, they are just like us.

This is Nader's debut novel, yet she has already set the bar high. At this stage I wouldn't have expected such a rich, deep storyline, but that's exactly what we got. I couldn't put Escape from Eden down - there was always another cliffhanger, another question to be answered, another trick just around the corner. To create a story so addictive is an amazing writing tool, and I'm definitely going to look out for Nader's books in the future.

Overall, Escape from Eden was pretty amazing. No, it wasn't perfect, and I think certain scenes could have been made a bigger deal of. However, the build-up, the writing, and the characters were all brilliant and at such a high standard already. If you love dystopian, go and pick this up as soon as possible.
Rating: 4/5

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