Review: Essence by Lisa Ann O’Kane

Essence-144dpiAutumn escaped a cult, but now she realizes she’s fallen into another.
Growing up in San Francisco’s Centrist Movement, sixteen year-old Autumn Grace has always believed emotions—adrenaline, endorphins, even happiness—drain your Essence and lead to an early death. But her younger brother’s passing and a run-in with a group of Outsiders casts her faith into question.
Ryder Stone, the sexy, rebellious leader of the Outsiders, claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic — and he can prove it.
Autumn follows Ryder to his Community of adrenaline junkies and free spirits in Yosemite National Park, and they introduce her to a life of adventure, romance, sex, drugs and freedom. But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community’s perfect exterior, she realizes the more she risks in search of the perfect rush, the further she has to fall. 
review1Some of the Goodreads reviews on Essence are harsh, and I really don’t understand why. This is a good book. Essence is a fast, but fulfilling read. It is entertaining and thought provoking – unexpected, yet plausible.

Autumn flees a cult in San Francisco cult only to enter another in Yosemite. She is originally a member of the Centrist Movement. Through a course of events, Autumn leaves that life behind to live with a group dedicated to proving the Centrists wrong. Along the way, she second guesses herself often, not knowing to whom she should be loyal: her family, her new friends, or herself.

The depiction of life in 2038 America is vivid and alarmingly realistic. The “Great Quake” has changed the landscape and infrastructure of the country, and it was interesting to have famous landmarks in ruins as Autumn travels around California.

3halfThe inside access to an urban cult and a nature commune was fascinating. The two cults are polar opposites, and it is a good depiction of how two extremes claiming to be truth miss the mark completely. Autumn must discover the middle ground for herself, but can she live there?

I really liked the secondary characters. Both camps have people you love and love to hate. They are an excellent support cast as Autumn comes of age. Javi makes the trip with Autumn, and I liked how they have different experiences on the same journey.

LisaAnnOKaneLisa Ann O’Kane is a young adult author and former vagabond who once camped out in Yosemite National Park for an entire summer, an experience that inspired her debut novel ESSENCE. Her background is in zookeeping and environmental education, and she has been kicked, cornered, bitten and chased by nearly every animal she has ever loved. She currently resides in Florida, and she is now a huge fan of shooting stars, indoor plumbing and keeping both her feet planted firmly on the trail.

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