Saturday, March 28, 2015

Unbreakable: Let's Talk About Cults & YA

Cults in YA? Yep, I found a few books that will curb your appetite for more Kimmy Schmidt for now, until we can get season 2.

I don't know about you, but I've been obsessed with The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Tina Fey's new Netflix comedy. Not only is it hilarious because I'm loving that Indiana is becoming the center of everyone's shows, but I have just moved to New York as well, so I'm identifying a lot with Kimmy as she tries to navigate her way through the big city.  Of course, I wasn't held hostage in a bunker. If you're not watching this show, you should be.

[It's also got one of the greatest opening credits in the history of television shows, as a song-ified newsreel clip. "Females are STRONG AS HELL"]

Since I finished the first season last week (a downside to releasing all the episodes at once is I can't control myself), I wanted to see what kind of YA was out there that I could read that would be similar. I knew of No Parking At End Times because it's going to be released pretty soon and I received an ARC in the mail, but I wanted to find another one as well. Luckily, I came across Searching for Sky on my Kindle (downloaded from NetGalley forever ago), and I was ready to go with a fun-filled weekend of reading about cults.

Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Pages: 288
Keywords: cults, ocean, family
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley
Goodreads | IndieBound

The thing about this book is that I was captivated by the general idea of what was happening. She was suffering from (unknown, at least to her) Stockholm Syndrome. Her mother ran away with a cult leader to an island (there's more to the story, and it involves a lot more people than those who ended up on the island) when she was barely two, and it's all she's ever known. She had literally no idea there were other humans in the entire world. Her world was fishing, hunting, and being in nature with her mother and River, Helmut's (cult leader) son. It was pretty interesting to see her assimilation into Californian culture after not knowing that anything else existed. She didn't know what jeans were or why people were obsessed with makeup or what a stove was. I liked seeing my very familiar world from that point of view, and it made me think about all the things I take for granted in my every day life.

However, it wasn't one of my favorite books I've read. Once I got through the first 30%, the novelty kind of wore off, and the story didn't seem to move anywhere after that until I hit the last few pages. By the end, everything seemed extremely dramatic, and every possible outcome was happening all at once. There were way too many things happening that none of them became believable. It was very soap-opera-like, and that frustrated me. For such an interesting topic to explore, I was a bit disappointed with the delivery.

No Parking at the End Times by Brian Bliss
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 272
Keywords: cults, family, moving
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Goodreads | IndieBound

This book follows the opposite track. A family that is used to the modern and cushy life loses everything — that is, the kids lose everything. Their father lost his job, joined a church (turns out it's a doomsday cult), sold their house and belongings, and packed up a van to move his family cross-country for their new leader, whom they also give all their cash to in order to "keep up the church."
I enjoyed experiencing the struggling nature of this family. Abigal tries desperately to patch her family up amid their move and loss of everything, and her brother wants nothing to do with it. Her mom is sneaking her a few ice cream dollars, and her dad is only focused on attending mass. This was an extraordinarily complicated family and situation, and I loved being involved in their lives. I wanted more of their experience though. Much of it revolved around Abigail trying to figure her brother out, and there didn't seem to be too much in-betweens with the family. It was confusion and then redeemed. Abigail had such a great voice that I wanted desperately to care more about the family and get more information from them. This was a great story about faith—not necessarily the religious kind—but faith in your family and in yourself, and that message was really important. I just wanted more plot to back that great message up.

Have you read any other books with cults in them?
Let me know!
I'm still sad I don't have new Kimmy episodes to watch!
Do you watch the show?

Let's discuss in the comments!


  1. Oh my gosh! You're in luck. Cults are HUGE in YA right now.

    Vivian Apple at the End of the World stands out to me. It's more cult-y + end of the world. I really enjoyed it. Then there's Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu, which is less cult, more fundamental Christian family like a mini cult. Still has quite a cult vibe to it and I seriously LOVED it. And Down from the Mountain. It was very crazy cult-ish plus an extra heap of crazy just for kicks. I think I rated it 3 stars, but it will definitely fit the bill of wanting to read about a crazy cult.

    I really need to get around to watching Kimmy. Given my slight obsession with cults, I know I'll love it. I'm adding No Parking at the End Times to my TBR, too. Hadn't heard of it before, but I'm all about that!

    1. WOW! this is a gold mine! Thank you!
      I will definitely have to check these out soon! And Kimmy is just so funny because it's after she's been kept in a bunker for like 11 years, so she makes super old references and has no clue how to function and I love it!!


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