Agnes loves her home of Red Creek–its quiet, sunny mornings, its dusty roads, and its God. There, she cares tirelessly for her younger siblings and follows the town’s strict laws. What she doesn’t know is that Red Creek is a cult, controlled by a madman who calls himself a prophet. Then Agnes meets Danny, an Outsider boy, and begins to question what is and isn’t a sin. Her younger brother, Ezekiel, will die without the insulin she barters for once a month, even though medicine is considered outlawed. Is she a sinner for saving him? Is her sister, Beth, a sinner for dreaming of the world beyond Red Creek? As the Prophet grows more dangerous, Agnes realizes she must escape with Ezekiel and leave everyone else, including Beth, behind. But it isn’t safe Outside, either: A viral pandemic is burning through the population at a terrifying rate. As Agnes ventures forth, a mysterious connection grows between her and the Virus. But in a world where faith, miracles, and cruelty have long been indistinguishable, will Agnes be able to choose between saving her family and saving the world?
I found out that this book was about cults and was ready to give it a try. After reading and loving The Project, I was ready to see how this cult book could terrify or horrify me or make me feel any other kind of emotion. Then, I found out one my friends had absolutely loved it and that made me even more eager to read it. Trigger warnings: blood, sexism, gore, cults
I feel like this book evokes more of a feeling and any hardcore thoughts from me. And that feeling is slippery and hard to describe. Nevertheless, I did like this book. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but that didn’t lessen its impact in any way.
Going into this book, I was expecting it to lean more towards the contemporary, though fantasy elements were woven in their. It feels a bit weird to call it fantasy though, since those elements are so faith based. And faith can do weird and wondrous things.
First off, this was an extremely weird book to read during a pandemic. Mostly because this book features a pandemic of its own. The reflections of real world society and the society in this book were very, very similar. It was so weird to read and it freaked me out a tad, but the Virus in this book was so fascinating that everything evened out.
This book also has truly terrifying moments. Moments of fear so completely full and moments of pain that were incredibly potent. This book was a lot darker than I expected to be, but those dark moments were so incredibly well written. They were horrifying, but the kind of horrifying where I couldn’t look away.
Speaking of well written, this entire book was well written. I felt like emotion was being sucked out of me at times. The complicated relationships and the horror of changing worlds were so clear and so filled with just everything.
Really, this was a book of complicated relationships. Complicated relationships with family, with friends, with faith, with emotions, with the characters themselves. It’s a book about figuring out what world you want to exist in, how to figure out how you fit into the world, and how you’re going to define your relationship with everything in your life. Sometimes it’s hard, but there are also moments of hope and love.
And now, five reasons you should pick up this book!
1. The most adorable little boy who finds out about superheros for the first time and loves Mac & Cheese.
2. Complicated familial relationships, but also ones filled with love.
3. A Virus that is as fascinating as it as terrifying.
4. Found family.
5. Scenes so potently horrifying that I can’t give them enough praise.
This is a book about figuring out faith and a world that’s changing. Two sisters fighting their own battles, who are so different, but still reflect each other and love each other so much.