Escape from Eden by Elisa Nader landed on my lap because the (awesome, incredible, book-loving) manager of my library’s Programming Division was in contact with Nader about a possible YA author’s panel program at my library. As any programming librarian (especially those who work with youth) knows, you can’t just say “Yeah, sure!” to every author who wants to visit the library (no matter how much you want to). Time and meeting room space aside, publicly promoting a book you have never read can have bad consequences. So my boss-lady and I decided that we would consider the program only after reading the book. Nader gave us 5 copies of the book, and I cannot wait to meet with the teens who picked up a copy so we can discuss this book! Awesome division manager, move forward with booking her!
Mia is 16 and has lived in Eden – a small religious community set in a fictional South America town – for six years. She has never really liked it, not necessarily hoping for her old life, but just not feeling comfortable or safe as the others do. Then Gabriel and his parents join Eden, and he opens Mia’s eyes to all of the things that aren’t quite right. She sees things she cannot forget, and her desire to get away turns into a desperate need. But she grapples with leaving behind her mother and little brother, and everyone else she loves and wants to protect.
The action scenes are longer than in most YA novels, but I didn’t find myself skipping them. Nader really packed a lot of punch into each scene, especially the ones that got Mia’s heart racing. The more passionate scenes definitely made me a little warm in the neck, but it is tame enough for a YA novel. It was done tastefully, which I appreciate. The chemistry between the two teens as well as Gabriel’s perfect mix of wit and gruff is really what drives the novel. I liked his depth.
Teen girls and adult women who read YA will be happy they read this. It has the sinister cult leader and his team of bad guys, passion that is always right on the precipice, and a lot of action. I think teen boys may appreciate Mia’s determination and heroics, as well. I’d consider recommending this to the right teen boy.
This has a Hunger Games and YA dystopic thing going on, without being set in a different world. Cults have been around for a while, and this is quite reminiscent of the Jonestown massacre of 1978. I watched a documentary on Jonestown a few years ago and thinking of it still gives me chills. I think I’ll forever link that doc with this novel.