Escape from Eden
by Nader, Elisa

Sixteen-year-old Mia longs to escape from Reverend Eden's cult, of which she has been a member for six years, and finds support from new arrival Gabriel, but their investigation into the group's inner workings yields disturbing discoveries.

Elisa Nader is a writer and UX designer living near Washington, D.C., with her husband and daughter. When she's not writing or designing, she's avoiding putting away laundry.Escape from Eden is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter @elisanader.

At 16, Mia is disenchanted with Edenton, the religious cult compound in the South American jungle where she has lived for six years. She learns to hide her disloyal thoughts from the Reverend and his potential spies, but it is difficult to avoid Edenton's subtle influence on her mind. Only when Mia is called to the community's "Prayer Circle"-actually a forced prostitution scheme perpetrated by the so-called spiritual leader-does she grasp the truth about their commune. With help from Gabriel, a rebellious 17-year-old newcomer, Mia struggles to find a way to save herself and those she loves. In her first novel, Nader handles pacing with finesse. The story builds dramatic tension very effectively as the stakes are raised with new revelations, violent confrontations, and tough choices. The brutal, horrific climactic scene is far less credible as those building up to it. Still, many readers will find Mia's first-person narrative a riveting read, from the slow burn of her growing sexual awareness to the many fast-paced action scenes. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

In a harrowing and often disturbing adventure, two teen members of an exploitative cult try fleeing to safety. The Flock, under the leadership of the Rev. Elias Eden, lives in Edenton, an isolated community surrounded by jungle. Mia, 16, has lived there for six years and longs to leave, unlike her more pious peers. When Mia is asked to help make cookies that later turn out to fatally poison 11 Flock members, she is both guilt-ridden and horrified. Along with Gabriel, a smart-mouthed recent arrival from New York, Mia begins to investigate the inner workings of Edenton and to attempt an escape. Nader, a first-time novelist, pulls no punches in her high-stakes action scenes; setbacks and casualties are many, and readers will wonder until the very end whether Mia or any of her loved ones will make it out alive. The chemistry between Mia and Gabriel is palpable in their teasing dialogue and sizzling moments of physical connection. What with mass poisonings, child abuse, sex trafficking and a Hunger Games–esque fight to the death, Mia's story is not for the faint of heart. Its rewards, however, are many: fast-moving action, a capable heroine and a resolution that leaves plenty of room for a sequel. Gripping. (Fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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