A Thrilling, Timely Look at a Religious Cult | BookishFirst

A Thrilling, Timely Look at a Religious Cult

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The best way that I can describe this book is a mash-up of Jonestown and Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix. It has all of the urgency of Haddix's book and the same feel of isolation combined with the charismatic and dangerous leader of the real-life Jonestown.

New Jerusalem is an oasis in the middle of the desert (although we don't find out WHICH desert until much later in the book). It is a self-sufficient religious commune where everyone does their part and "Keeps Faithful" in exchange for entrance into Paradise. New Jerusalem is led by a man named Daniel, a self-proclaimed profit of God who maintains order, interprets dreams, and speaks to God. The women of New Jerusalem are told to hold their tongues and submit to the will of their fathers, their husbands, and, above all, Daniel.

Peace and order have been maintained in New Jerusalem for a generation, ever since the Elders followed Daniel into the desert to found the colony. The men and women were paired off during the first Matrimony and proceeded to procreate. Now the eldest children of the second generation have reached a marriageable age. It is time for the second Matrimony. The young men of New Jerusalem are supposed to have dreams of their future wives as a sign that the union is ordained by God. Miriam knows that she and Caleb are meant to be together; Caleb has dreamt of her. She is sure she knows her future, but then something goes terribly wrong at the Matrimony and the dark past of New Jerusalem, hidden like the caves upon which the colony is built, comes to light.

This book is incredibly well written and captivating. The narrative switches between the characters of Miriam and Caleb so the reader gets to experience events from two perspectives. It is particularly interesting to hear the inner thoughts of the two characters and how each comes to grips with the knowledge that the place they were born and the man they were raised to believe was a prophet may not be all they assumed he was.