Eden West by Pete Hautman

Title:Eden West
Author: Pete Hautman
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date:April 14th 2015
Source: ARC received from publisher at ALAMW
Summary from Goodreads:
Tackling faith, doubt, and transformation, National Book Award winner Pete Hautman explores a boy’s unraveling allegiance to an insular cult.

Twelve square miles of paradise, surrounded by an eight-foot-high chain-link fence: this is Nodd, the land of the Grace. It is all seventeen-year-old Jacob knows. Beyond the fence lies the World, a wicked, terrible place, doomed to destruction. When the Archangel Zerachiel descends from Heaven, only the Grace will be spared the horrors of the Apocalypse. But something is rotten in paradise. A wolf invades Nodd, slaughtering the Grace’s sheep. A new boy arrives from outside, and his scorn and disdain threaten to tarnish Jacob’s contentment. Then, while patrolling the borders of Nodd, Jacob meets Lynna, a girl from the adjoining ranch, who tempts him to sample the forbidden Worldly pleasures that lie beyond the fence. Jacob’s faith, his devotion, and his grip on reality are tested as his feelings for Lynna blossom into something greater and the End Days grow ever closer. Eden West is the story of two worlds, two hearts, the power of faith, and the resilience of the human spirit.


For some reason cults fascinate me, so I was excited to dive into Eden West.  This is only the second book I have read where cults are a central focal point of the book.  Unfortunately, it felt like both books shared very similar plots, both books having one of the main characters in a cult and the second main character as the temptation outside the cult.  While it is still an interesting concept/premise I was hoping for something a little different.

Eden West is a strong character driven story.  It is told from the point of view of Jacob, as he grows to doubt the cult teachings the reader gains more insight into the daily rituals and beliefs of the cult. The cult has a very different and extreme set of beliefs which perfectly match the cult's rigid way of life.  This was one of my favorite aspects of the book.

The plot felt slow at times, while it may be in part due to the fact that its focal point is Jacob's doubt and not romance or action, it just seemed to teeter on the edge of losing my interest.  Eden West is focuses on coming to terms with your doubt and moving forward from that point.  The secondary characters are a function of the plot and merely facilitate the main character's personal growth.

Overall, I would say the book is worth picking up if you are in the mood for a male narrator's story on his unique upbringing and how he questions everything he knows.  Eden West has some interesting cult aspects but other than that the book just fell a just a bit flat, not reaching its full potential.

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