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3.84  ·  Rating details ·  110 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Autumn 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 St
Kindle Edition, 243 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Strange Chemistry (first published May 23rd 2014)
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  110 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Ashley Ferguson
May 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
*I received this book from Strange Chemistry on NetGalley in echange for an honest review*

When I went into this book, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. Cults, some romance, and a lot of adventure, sure. But what I got was SO much more than that. I wasn't prepared for the roller coaster that was this book, and I'm still trying to recover from it. I loved every second of Essence, and as soon as I finished it I wanted to start reading it all over again. And I still probably will.

Essence takes
May 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Some 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 gues
I’m at a loss for words because Lisa Ann O’Kane’s “Essence” is little more than a contemporary YA romance with love triangle and coming of age leanings wrapped in a futuristic dystopian package. It really isn’t a dystopian title in any means because it literally does little – if anything – to play up the environment or even the future in which it takes place. When you take away those parts of it, there’s very little holding it together at all, and much of it comes across as ludicrous and puerile ...more
Jennifer Bement
Nov 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! I read it on my phone and couldn't put it down (except when driving, of course!) The characters were interesting and relatable despite living in a far different world from our own. Autumn was an unlikely heroine, but following her through her journey of self-actualization was a fun trip. The descriptions of Yellowstone made me want to visit - especially during mooonbow time, as it sounds absolutely magical.

The relationships, while between young adults, didn't portray the "I'm
Britt Coon
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! The day I purchased it, I was only planning to read a few chapters. I couldn't put it down until I finished it. The story kept pulling me back to find out what happens next. This is a fast paced story with many twists and turns following the journey of a young woman experiencing life outside the her cult's boundaries for the first time.
Through these new experiences, the main character grows leaps and bounds. The author does a fantastic job painting the scenery, putting the rea
A. Rolland
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I flew through this one. Essence is a dystopian that doesn’t quite feel dystopian because there aren’t heavy hits of background or an emphasis on world destruction; it wouldn’t have fit the tone of the book. However, intrigue isn’t lacking due to the societies (cults). The MC is born into bland society where stimulation and emotion are forbidden. Following the death of her brother, Autumn (MC) discovers a new extreme, a group who live to charge their adrenaline. She wakes up to experience life w ...more
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
This YA debut author knows how to paint a scenery. Vivid descriptions helped me visualize Yosemite, despite the fact that I've never been there. Unlike many of the new YA dystopian novels, it is not overly violent, and all conflicts serve a purpose in the overall plot. Between the imagery and Autumn & Ryder's chemistry, it's a perfect rainy day read.
Melissa (The Reader & The Chef)
*This review is also at The Reader and The Chef. Big thanks to Strange Chemistry and Netgalley for the eARC.*

I can't believe this book won't be a series anymore. WHY?

I think Essence is an awesome, well written book that's different from other dystopian books out there. I liked how instead of focusing on the state of the whole world, it focuses on two small societies, or rather cults, where the people living in them think that's all there is to life.

The story begins in San Francisco, CA. with Aut
Joe Kovacs
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read. Suspenseful with characters who evolve throughout the story as circumstances develop. Nimble, gripping reading with fantastic scene-setting at Yosemite National Park. An all-around examination into the forces that create idealism and those that motivate community and friendship. Lisa O'Kane is to be commended for penning such a worthwhile story.
Precy Larkins
Feb 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the kind of book that will leave your palms sweaty and your heart rate elevated while reading, especially if you’re afraid of heights. That cover alone makes me want to cling to my bed post and never step down. Highlining over hundreds of feet of just air?! I can’t even imagine.

The Centrist movement is essentially a cult lead by a man named Cedar, who insists that every person has a quantifiable amount of Essence that can be drained if people let their emotions rule them. Hence the sayi
Mark Stevens
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I don’t read much YA or speculative fiction, but “Essence” drew me right along. Set in San Francisco and northern California (around Yosemite), this novel is a dash of gentle sci-fi mixed with a dash of romance. The coming-of-age awakening for protagonist Autumn Grace starts in eerie fashion. She’s stuck in a cult—the Centrist Movement—that believes in minimizing self-expression in order to not expend too much of each person’s set quantity of “essence.” Outbursts—of all kinds—shorten life. (An I ...more
Isa Lavinia

arc provided by Strange Chemistry through Netgalley

I... don't even know what to write about this book.

This is really weird, because I tend to love Strange Chemistry's books, I don't understand how they decided to publish this... but other people seem to have liked it, so...

This book has one of the most annoying and tstl heroines I've come across recently. Honestly, I spent my time going, "Girl, don't do it! Oh my God."
Add to that a nonsensical plot, no character development, no worldbuilding,
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This story held my attention so tightly, I could barely put it down. In the beginning, it's intriguing, but as you go, it's more and more intense. I read 85% of it in about 24 hrs. because I could NOT put it down. It also makes me want to go to Yosemite now. :)
Nichole Marshall
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! Felt connected with the characters, wanted to hang out in Yosemite with them. Would love a sequel to see how the two lovebirds would handle their own 'movement'
Kristin Taggart
I don't use star ratings, so please read my review!

(Description nicked from B&

“Neutrality is the key to longevity. This motto has governed 16 year-old Autumn's life in the mid-21st century Centrist cult, which believes that expressing emotions leads to Essence drain and premature death.

But Autumn's younger brother’s death casts her faith into question.

While sprinting through a park in violation of Centrist teachings, she encounters Ryder Stone, an Outsider who claims Essence drain is
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Originally posted on my blog

Note: A copy was provided to me by the publisher, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cults are one of the most unsettling things to read about, and I felt unsettled for the entirety of the book, which I think just goes to show how well O’Kane wrote this book. It felt real, or that it could be real. People fall into cults all the time and you can’t help but feel sorry for the kids born into them.
Autumn is part of a
Heather Duff
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
So I am tired today, this is due to the fact that I had to find out how this amazing book finished, so please forgive my grumpiness, but it is all worth it as Essence was unlike anything I have read before.

Set in San Francisco in our near future, earthquakes have hit and the city is rebuilding itself but out of the chaos comes a movement, The Centrists led by Cedar, a man who believes that when we are born our bodies have a finite amount of "essence" or what we would refer to as emotions, the me
Brandon Cooke
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Only took a few days to breeze through the discriptive text that continually beckons your natual man into the wilderness with Autumn and Ryder. The characters are easy to identify with and their struggle for acceptance both internally and externally is one that reverberates with not only seekers and wanderers but with intellectuals and mainstream thinkers alike. Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your heart and taking us on this exciting adventure.

'...the sound melted through my entire body until I f
Lisa O'Kane
Sep 19, 2013 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: my-books
I hope you enjoy my debut novel ESSENCE. It was inspired by the summer I spent living and working in Yosemite National Park--as well as the crews of adrenaline junkies I have fallen into and out of through the years. If you have any questions or would like to connect with me on social media, please visit my website for more information. I look forward to hearing from you!

-Lisa Ann

Hallie Dodds
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
AMAZING!! I could not put ESSENCE down! It was thrilling and breathtaking. Every tiny detail that was put into writing this book, even to the intricate details of location blew my mind!
I would highly recommend this book to all of my friends, and I will!
I cannot wait to read more from Lisa Ann O'Kane!!
How about a squeal?!
Jeff Morrow
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great debut that leaves you wanting more!

Essence is a wonderful example of storytelling, great character development and vivid environmental descriptions!! If this book doesn't make you want to travel out West, I'm not sure what is wrong with you...
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
One thing I've learned about reviewing a book: Do it immediately after reading it because it's hard to make it later especially when it's so not special like this one. I think I've forgotten about this already. Hmm. Let's see.

My eyebrows were pretty much raised while reading this story.

I mean, what's the difference between the Centrist movement and the movement with Ryder? it's so obvious that it's just another cult.

The heroine is so annoying! Ugh.

I wrote these notes while reading:

-I totally di
Christa  Seeley
May 25, 2014 rated it liked it
This review originally posted at More Than Just Magic

Cults are fascinating. They’re horrible and frightening as well but as an outsider looking in you can’t help but be intrigued. How did it start? What convinced people to join? And more importantly what makes them stay. But despite the curiosity around them I’ve only ever read one other YA novel – Escape From Eden – that takes the reader inside a cult.

Essence is an interesting approach to the cult narrative because it tackles two significant el
Chrissy (The Every Free Chance Reader)
Did I enjoy this book: I'm conflicted.

I liked it (finished it in two days, actually), but I’m not sure if I like it because O’Kane’s written a good book, or if it’s because Essence reminds me a lot (and I mean A LOT) of Divergent. It’s nearly the same plot — girl leaves one culty-type lifestyle and joins another, only to find out things aren’t exactly what she expected. She falls in love with the lead hottie, makes some bad choices, and ultimately figures things out. The details are different —
May 05, 2014 rated it did not like it
A girl growing up in a cult that believes emotions drain your lifeforce begins to question her faith after her brother’s death. That part was kinda interesting, but when she leaves and is scooped up by opposite-cult of adrenaline junkies, it looses steam.

I was frustrated by how little she examines her new community, their motives and the obvious secrets. And I hated how the adults encourage teens in reckless and even deadly behavior, as well as her icky "romance" with the cult-leader's son (hey
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Essence," Lisa O'Kane's debut novel, is fun and fast and incredibly descriptive. The story and writing are strong (her depiction of how a character feels after a sexual encounter is sensitive and very real). Yosemite comes to life and even serves as another character in O'Kane's writing. And once you are in the story, it moves you to keep turning and find out how Autumn survives--or more. I really enjoyed reading this YA even though I'm a bit older than that now. Her descriptions of the adrenal ...more
Shallee McArthur
Sep 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So. This book. This book is lush. It's adventurous. It's a little heartbreaking. And it's a haunting look into the mind of a girl raised in a cult who doesn't know how to escape the lifestyle, even when she tries. I loved it so much. Autumn was not just a great character, but a look into the mind of someone who really doesn't understand what life can be outside of someone else's control. I loved her arc, her mistakes, and her discoveries. I loved her wonder and her bravery. I just loved this boo ...more
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
What a fun, fast-paced, adrenaline filled read! I was really fascinated by the inside look at the two cults Autumn found herself in, and then by the way she pulled herself out. The love story component was fresh and unique, and like Autumn, at first I found myself NOT digging Ryder, but by the end I was a goner for him. I want to know what happens next!
Jennifer Kilmurray
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wow! What a great ride! I've never been to Yellowstone but I sure feel like I've been there now. The imagery and freshness of the writing was perfect for the subject matter and brought to life with Autumn and Ryder's wild romance. I'm very disappointed this won't be a series. I sincerely hope this author considers creating a novella or blog post series. I can't wait to see what she'll write next!
Katie Morrow
Sep 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was a wonderful read that instantly sucked me into the drama and internal struggle of leaving one's home. A fast but captivating read that left me wanting more from this author.
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Lisa 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
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