17-year-old Piper is faithful to Father. After all, he is the chosen one. He knows best, and he’s just trying to protect his family from the war that will bring the end of the world. But then Piper is taken away from her family in a government raid. Now, it’s up to her to escape from the Outside and return to the place she knows is completely safe… isn’t it?
**Thank you to Edelweiss+ for providing me with a free e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review!**
The cover was the first thing that drew me to this book. It was enough to give me chills while also assuring me that it wasn’t going to be like the other thrillers I’ve been tearing through. No, the horrors of this book lie in the main character’s home and state of mind: Piper and her family have been brainwashed into following this cult.
A year or so ago, I watched a TEDx Talk about a girl who grew up in a cult. It was very fascinating, and above all, heartbreaking. Watching this woman describe the events that happened to her throughout her childhood and how it affected her made me want to hug her for being so strong. I recommend anybody to watch the video, as it’s an interesting inside look into what feels like another world.
This book was easy to fall into quickly, much like what I’ve heard of cults themselves. The story was engaging and interesting enough to keep me turning pages quickly. I had so many questions! I enjoyed the way we were left in the dark, just like the main character, but still left us room to make our own educated guesses. The story is told through different timelines, Before and After, that allow us to watch Piper’s journey unfold.
The characters were likable enough, though perhaps that’s not the term I’d use for most of them. For the most part, they were a bit forgettable, especially Caspian, but they leave enough of an impression on the reader to care about what happens to them. Piper could be quite frustrating and mean at times in the After parts, but it was understandable given what she’d been through, and the author makes sure to show us bit by bit just what that entails. Her brainwashing runs deep, and I found myself shocked at times to see how distrustful she had become as a result of her time in the cult. I loved the little touches put in to show Piper’s disconnect from the rest of the world, like her usage of words like “groovy” and “far-out” as a result of only being allowed to watch 70s sitcoms.
Despite the fast-paced and thrilling aspects of the novel, there were times that I felt it was moving too fast. Time jumps made certain parts jarring and took me away from the story for a bit. In addition, while I did care for the characters in relation to Piper, I didn’t care much for them on their own, and it resulted in me feeling slightly disconnected from the story once I finished the book.
Still, this book was quite an enjoyable read, with gentleness and love making their way into the holes created in the main character’s life. If you’re looking to read a detailed fictional account of a cult, this might not be the book for you; if you’re looking for a fun, fast-paced story of a girl finding her strength as she unravels the truths denied her for years, I would definitely recommend it!
Have you read any books about cults? If so, are there any in particular you’d recommend?