After the Fire by Will Hill

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Gripping realistic fiction for young adults!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review After the Fire by Will Hill! The story opens during an attack and the main character, Moonbeam, is running for her life. She’s a resident of a community made up of fellow followers of The Legion and their leader is Father John. The fenced in community is under attack by the Government. Eventually, the attack is over and Moonbeam is at a rehabilitation center for mental and physical healing and also to learn to return to what she knows as the Outside. Moonbeam tells her story and the story of her fellow community members, Legionmates, through her interviews with a therapist and a government agent. The whole time I was reading this book, I kept thinking about the Waco Siege and its similarities to the Legion community. As I read the author’s note at the end of the book, he explains his reasoning for writing about the fictional character of Moonbeam and I was impressed with how delicately and respectfully he dealt with the similarities to Karesh’s religious community near Waco, Texas and how he honors the followers. The idea of one person gripping so many people and convincing them to sacrifice everything for that leader is curious and interesting and very sad. Will Hill handles this content well and breathes life into the characters and the tragic events that they lived or didn’t live through. 5 stars for this gripping realistic fiction story for young adults!

The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson

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Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read and review The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson. Ruby and her mother are barely surviving after the loss of Anton, Ruby’s brother. Their grief is overwhelming and Ruby blames herself for what happened to Anton. She meets a unique young man and meets his “family”. His name is Fox and he lives in a sort of commune. Ruby goes with Fox to the Outreach building and she decides that she wants to learn more, so she attends the secret Institute and gets more than she bargained for. Any disobedience and you’re thrown in a cell-type room with no food or water for days until you are “elutriated” according to the leader who claims he’s the Daddy of all. Boundless Sublime frightens with its suspense and feelings of entrapment. As the synopsis states, this book is an “immersive thriller”, eye-opening as well as heartbreaking, with its tale of manipulation and a cult-like community led by a charlatan. 5 stars for a book I couldn’t put down!

Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Books for the opportunity to read and review Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg. The prologue starts with past events that will be explained later by the narrator. The prologue also gives the reader a glimpse into the past, present and future lives of some of the characters. The story is told in parts – Part One “Green”(past), Part Two “Jess” (present), Part Three “Green” (past). Green and Jess are different names for the same person and she is the narrator of the story. The people that live at Foxlowe all have two names; their Outside name that they came to Foxlowe with and their new name that they were given when they arrived at Foxlowe. The people that reside at Foxlowe are a cult type of society with initiation that causes injury. This initiation is also used as enlightenment, which I see as punishment and it involves stabbing your skin with multiple nails until bleeding occurs. The controlling leaders are strange and have insecurity issues and possible psychological issues. The details of the story are vague at some points and, as a reader, I am not sure how the people came to Foxlowe and how they keep getting members, such as Blue (the infant that shows up in the story). The author’s prose is beautiful and descriptive with the characters’ attributes and the surroundings of Foxlowe, but the point of the lifestyle was never explained. The tone is dark and abusive and I am sure more evil occurred behind the scenes due to the way the leaders treated the children. The Epilogue was a nice conclusion showing the future of Green and how Foxlowe had become a tourist spot. Beautiful writing but a very odd story- 3.5 stars.