ARC: Down from the Mountain by Elizabeth Fixmer

Posted on 02/16/2015 in Book Review / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC:  Down from the Mountain by Elizabeth FixmerDown from the Mountain by Elizabeth Fixmer
Published by Albert Whitman and Company on 3/1/2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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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.\r\nBut 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. Now Eva do

Down from the Mountain gets 3.5 stars for a multitude of reasons.  It’s very compelling, and seeing the inside of a religious cult with first person POV is riveting.  Here is a bulleted list of the things I liked, as well as some of the things I didn’t.

Liked

  • It’s compelling.  As someone who doesn’t have a religion, but believes in God, I find the idea of followers being sucked into a religious cult fascinating.  My questions circle around the whys and the hows, and this book highlights a lot of those reasons.
  • Her discovery of the outside world, as she does work for Righteous Path (the cult), is delightful and I found her confusion about what she had been taught versus what she was experiencing, sad and happy.
  • Eva’s bravery as she challenges her own way of thinking and everything she has ever been taught.
  • Trevor.  Goodness, I loved everything about him.  Caring and kind and every other sweet adjective you can think of, he truly cared what happened to the members of the cult.
  • Fixmer made Ezekial an obvious villain.  Normally, I hate that, but it really works in Down from the Mountain, because, hey, cults are bad, amirite?
  • The descriptions of complacence and obedience are well done.

Down from the Mountain by Elizabeth Fixmer

Disliked

  • The writing is somewhat simple.  Perhaps this is a side-effect of writing from the POV of a girl who has had little formal education.  If that’s the case, then I understand it.
  • It was relatively predictable; I kind of saw where it was heading about 35% of the way through the story.  I knew who would defect first, I sort of had figured out who would die.  Really, the only thing that took me by surprise was the lack of relationship development with Jacob.
  • I found the reasons that Mother Martha joined the Righteous Path to be forced and not at all believable.  While I can get behind Martha giving her money and earthly possessions over to the Reverend Ezekial, I just don’t think her reasoning was convincing.
  • There are small discrepancies within the story, such as:
    • Annie, the 11-year-old follower, sounded too old for her age.  Now, I realize that this does happen to some people, especially those who have experienced traumatic events, but if Fixmer didn’t give her age away in the book, I’d have guessed she was in her early twenties.  That’s a broad difference from 11.
    • How did Eva get a library card without a photo ID?
  • Where the hell was the media when she was found?  Her disappearance was in the papers, but where were they when she was found?  I’ve seen far too many stories like this one to believe that it didn’t happen, and it disappointed me that we don’t get to experience the fallout of the ending.
  • There is no intensity in the ending.  I felt no emotion behind the words on the pages.  It was kinda like, “Okay, so I did this, and this, and this, and they came and this happened and now I’m here.”  It happens incredibly fast, especially considering how long Eva had been with the cult.

Down from the Mountain by Elizabeth Fixmer

Verdict

Despite its flaws, Down from the Mountain really is a great book to read, especially if you have an interest in the heavy subject matter.  The story is quite disheartening, because it happens in the real world, but Fixmer rewards you for your internal suffering in the end.   *Thank you to Albert Whitman & Company for my review copy.

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Jennifer is both a book nerd and professional photographer. That means she lives in the fantasy world all the time, whether of her making, or someone else's. She collects books like the Duggar family collects kids, and began waiting for her Hogwarts letter at the tender age of 33.

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