I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.Down From The Mountain by Elizabeth Fixmer
Published by Abrams on March 1, 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Eva just wants to be a good disciple of the Righteous Path. She grew up knowing that she and her mother are among the chosen few to be saved from Armageddon. Lately, though, being saved feels awfully treacherous. Ever since they moved to the compound in Colorado, their food supplies have dwindled even while their leader, Ezekial, has stockpiled weapons. The only money comes from the jewelry Eva makes and sells down in Boulder--a purpose she'll serve until she becomes one of Ezekial's wives. But a college student named Trevor and the other "heathens" she meets on her trips beyond the compound are different from what she's been led to believe.
Cults, for lack of a better word, have been in the news a lot the last few decades. Mostly, the ones that we hear about, are in the public eye because of their dangerously charismatic leaders and practices that lead to great tragedy. The Righteous Path could have been patterned after any of those, although I kept think of the Branch Davidians (who are mentioned in this book). Brother Ezekiel is seen as a leader and a prophet, but to the reader, I think he will really be nothing more than a megalomaniac and child predator. Frustratingly, we see everyone, including Eva, try their best to serve him and submit to his increasingly insane demands. As Eva starts to quietly question what is happening, it turns into more of a thriller with a ‘will she escape or won’t she?’ question hanging in the air. I found some of the set-ups to her time in Boulder a little too convenient, but her transformation of belief hinges on her time amongst the “heathens”, so it served a purpose in the story.
I can’t say that there was anything wrong with the story, per say, but it just didn’t do anything to distinguish itself. In a genre full of situations where girls are trapped and looking to escape, I would have liked a little more introspection and more dimension to all of the characters. The conclusion really needed more fleshing out, as well, especially considering the events that preceded it. This was really just your typical hostage story, in may ways. While it was entertaining, since there were moments that were full of suspense, I just wanted a little more. I do think this book, while it broaches some uncomfortable subjects, did it in a way that would be ok for all ages of YA readers. Down From The Mountain wasn’t a win for me, but others may find the world of the Righteous Path to be fascinating and worth a read.