Downloadable Audiobook - 2013
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Seventeen-year-old Lyla feels ambivalent when the charismatic leader of her isolated suburban community is told that the end of the world is near and when it arrives they must all be ready to defend themselves against the unchosen.
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2013]
ISBN: 9780804123303
Branch Call Number: eAudiobook
Characteristics: 1 sound file : digital
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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Jan 15, 2018

Good book but kind of dull and full of teenage girl dialog but does and effective job of transporting you out of normal living into the carefully and totally controlled world of the cult. Does a good job of making the cult seem like a safe haven controlled by Pioneer the cult leader who has everyone's best interest in mind (or so he says). As I write this I still have good memories of the story and the characters.

Nov 16, 2015

If you've ever read about a cult and thought "how could people be so gullible/stupid to buy into that crap?", reading this book will chill you to the bones. Because, basically, it answers that question in a fleshed-out way. The combination of a charismatic leader spreading fear (of the outside world) and compliments (to his flock, to curry favor) is effective. And although we know from the start that Pioneer is not to be trusted, it's easy to see how he manipulates characters in the book, especially ones we like and may relate to.

The thriller part of this contemporary-set YA comes into play when the main character, Lyla, starts breaking away from the cult. And I have to say, my favorite part is the realism with which that's tackled. This is not some sudden come-to-Jesus moment of epiphany and then she's on the run (see: bad Hollywood blockbusters), it's a slow game of do-I-trust-him-or-myself. And even while I was yelling at Lyla to do the self-preserving thing, the author did an excellent job of reminding me she's a naive girl who has had her entire life dictated by this leader. Peppered into the chapter headers are fictional quotes from Pioneer, as well as real-life quotes from real-life cult leaders Charles Manson and Jim Jones, making it all the more chilling.

Although in places the pacing flagged, overall I found this story frighteningly believable. The side characters were trope-defying, which is always a breath of fresh air with contemporary YA stories: the rules-breaking/rules-following best friend; the wonderfully smitten boyfriend whose actions have no bearing on Lyla's feelings (i.e. just because he's nice doesn't mean you owe him romance); the fear-paralyzed mother; the father who is ashamed but trying his best.

It bears noting that the audiobook was well done. I love when a narrator sounds age-appropriate and uses subtle changes in pitch and tone to differentiate characters. Also, when Lyla was yelling dialogue, so did the narrator- it made for a more engaging experience, but be warned, it can be startling.


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