Author: Elisa Nader
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Merit Press
Publication Date: August 18, 2013
Recipe Variables: Profanity, sex, nudity
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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 their undeniable attraction to 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?
A really sharp chick named Judith Viorst once said, “Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands—and then eat just one of the pieces.” Yeah, that’s pretty much how I felt after reading Elisa Nader’s novel, Escape From Eden because after I finished the final page, I went to reach for the next piece…and there was none to be had. Nooooooooooooooooooooo!
Nader’s novel starts in the thick of things, like a dense South American jungle, as our unwitting protagonist, Mia, sits through a raging sermon by the utopian leader, Ethan Eden. From there, I learned the basics of the theology of this society, but thankfully (praise baby Jesus!) nothing too deep that would catapult this reader into a snore fest. Instead, I delved into the rebellious thoughts of Mia, and how she is jonesing for the opportunity to fly the coop, only to discover the pen is literally lined with razor wire. She is briefly distracted by the arrival of hot and saucy Gabriel, who willing leads her around the fence for a taste of what’s beyond her reach.
Be warned, the content of this young adult novel added plenty of spice to the original YA dystopian recipe. There are bare butts, brutal blood-shed, and SPOILER ALERT…a sex trafficking scandal, not to mention our hottie’s potty mouth. Would I give the stamp of approval to a teen to read this novel? Abso-friggin’-lutely. There’s nothing in these pages that a kids hasn’t heard in the halls of a modern-day high school or seen depicted on the silver (or small) screen with a PG-13 rating.
Nader’s writing is strong, and her banter between characters is quick, witty, and humorous in places where the reader needs a break from clenching her butt cheeks together during the adrenaline-filled close calls Mia and Gabriel are constantly battling. As far as I know, there isn’t a sequel; thankfully, the ending was strong enough to leave this chick satisfied, yet testing Viorst’s theory to the strength of eating only one of the four pieces of chocolate. Truth, sista. It took strength, indeed.