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Eden West

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  684 ratings  ·  133 reviews
A world within a world…

Twelve square miles of paradise, surrounded by an eight-foot-high chain-link fence: this is Nodd, the land of the Grace. It is all Jacob knows. Beyond the fence lies the World, a wicked, terrible place, doomed to destruction. Only the Grace will be spared.

But something is rotten in paradise. A wolf invades Nodd, slaughtering the Grace's sheep. A new
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Candlewick Press
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Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  684 ratings  ·  133 reviews

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Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, galleys
I have to start by admitting that this book was not quite what I expected after reading the summary. I’m not really sure why, because the book delivers on everything the summary promises, but somehow I anticipated something a little more otherworldly and dystopian. What Hautman delivers is the dystopian otherworldliness of a modern day religious compound.

Seventeen-year old Brother Jacob is a member of the Grace living in Nodd, a compound sandwiched between the “godless” Fort Landreau Indian Res
Willow Hadley
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this! To be honest, the summary kind of confused me. So I really didn't have much clue as to what this was about when I started it. But it was interesting and a little bit creepy. Sometimes it is hard to imagine that these types of cults really exist around us. Anyways, this was extremely well-written and I definitely recommend it! ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
This review originally appeared on my blog,


I’ve read quite a few young adult and adult books, fiction and nonfiction, about life in religious cults, so EDEN WEST wasn’t anything new for me. Before I started the book, I thought it would be a fresh take on the subject, especially as it’s written from the perspective of a boy, seventeen-year-old Jacob.

But EDEN WEST was just an average book. There’s a lot of focus on themes and symbols, such as the wolf slaughtering the sheep. There’s
Kaethe Douglas
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What's the difference between a cult and a religion? Mostly time, I think, but sheer numbers probably have something to do with it. Hautman manages to give a balanced and fair report on life within a tiny religious community in the West. Jacob meets a girl from the outside world, Lynnie, and gains perspective, and she, too, learns. Jacob's relationship with his parents is nuanced. Every religion has elements that sound bizarre to outsiders, but also provides something, perhaps many things, to it ...more
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was very enjoyable. One thing I loved the most was how, even though I didn't agree with everything these people believed in, I still felt sympathy for everything they were going through. The characters weren't all very deep, but they were interesting enough to keep it moving. I liked the writing, mostly, although there was one word I wished he'd changed in the second or third chapter (personal preference). Anyway, all in all, if you like books about religion, family, or coming of age, ...more
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There are people who won't like this book, people who will think the main character (whose name I am already blanking on) is a little empty, and those who are unsatisfied with its pacing -- some parts seem sped up while the book as a whole is pretty slow.

But this book spoke to me and stuck with me -- I am fascinated by new religious movements (cults) and the surrounding academic literature that studies them. I found this book to be sensitive and honest to the lifestyle of a religious movement wh
Leah (Jane Speare)
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Pete Hautman really knows how to create an engaging story. In Eden West we glimpse the inside of an insular cult through the eyes of a boy called Jacob. As Jacob slowly starts to question his faith and lifestyle through a series of trials life throws at him, his story becomes more complex and basic at the same time. He's just trying to find his place in the world. This book fascinated me to no end and it brings out questions of all sorts. Highly recommend and especially good for a discussion! ...more
Sep 27, 2015 rated it liked it
I don't read much contemporary books but this book intrigued me so much. Great start but the pace was so so slow and it became predictable. If you like coming of age books or good hearted books this book might be a good pick for you. ...more
Nov 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, ya
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, young-adult
"Are you saying the only way we can be friends is if I join your . . . group?"

"If you do not, you will be destroyed."

Lynna bites her lip and shakes her head slowly. I see tears in her eyes.

"Oh, Jacob, can you even hear yourself?"

Jacob has lived in Nodd, a strict and secretive religious community, since he was a young boy. Now, at almost eighteen years old, he spends his days praying for forgiveness, and patrolling the fence surrounding the compound. It's there he meets a "worldly" girl, and
Cricket Muse
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jacob has lived his life on a religious compound for most of his seventeen years, and is totally immersed into the lifestyle invented by a man who has three wives and a small following of believers.
When three new converts arrive, the placid existence changes for Jacob’s community. The teen convert, Tobias, has come unwillingly and brings destruction to Jacob’s world.
A slow corrosion develops as Jacob begins a friendship with Lynna, a teen girl who lives on the other side of the fence. Even thou
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura (booksnob)
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Eden West by Pete Hautman

Jacob is 17 and has lived in the land of Nodd since he was a young boy. Nodd is a 12 mile secluded religious community in Montana which is surrounded by an 8 foott tall chain link fence. Jacob is not allowed to leave the protection and safety of Nodd because the world is a dangerous, terrible place. Everyone who lives outside the fence is doomed for all eternity. Only the people are the inside will be saved when Archangel Zarachiel arrives with an Arc to bring them to pa
John Clark
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
How do you, as a teen, assess the world when your parents hauled you off to live in a cult at age five? If you're isolated from the rest of the world and have had twelve years of constant preaching and training that the Archangel Zerachiel is arriving soon when the apocalypse happens. You work doing whatever is necessary to support the brethren of Nodd and you pray at the foot of the holy tree—a lot.
This is Jacob's reality. He has a few faint memories of the time before his family came to Nodd,
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: not-graphic, life, ya, voice
I know that the World is a terrible place, filled with wild animals and evil men and wicked women.

So begins Jacob's narration. Like any seventeen-year-old, Jacob trusts what his parents and respected authorities have always taught him about the world and his place in it. Like any seventeen-year-old, he questions what he has always been taught and yearns to discover the world for himself so he can fully take ownership of his identity, to decide for himself who he will be. As is common, religion p
Jenni Frencham
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Hautman, Pete. Eden West. Candlewick Press, 2015.

Jacob and his family moved to Nodd, a religious compound in the middle of Montana, when he was just 5 years old. This world is almost all he has ever known. He does not question his beliefs or his role in the world, until one day when he speaks with a girl through the fence surrounding Eden West. Her experiences make Jacob question everything he's ever believed in. Is his faith strong enough to keep him inside the compound?

This book had a bit of a
Andrea Mullarkey
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness - I loved this book so much! It is rare for me to find a teen book (my audience) that fits so squarely in literary fiction (my genre) so I am always excited when I do. And this book is definitely teen literary fiction. Really good teen literary fiction. With a cult. And a harsh western landscape. And spare prose. And a strong young woman in a pivotal role. But it's not primarily Lynna's story. No, it's the story of Jacob, a young man coming of age among the Grace who live in Nodd, ...more
Suzanne Dix
Seventeen-year old Jacob has lived in a cult in a remote area of Montana since the age of five. His parents joined Grace Ministries while grieving the loss of Jacob’s four-day old brother. While Jacob can recall glimpses of his young life (television, fast food, toys) he is fully invested in his life serving the Archangel Zerachiel and working hard on the land to support his fellow Brothers and Sisters. Never once has Jacob doubted his faith until he meets two Worldly, and therefore wicked, teen ...more
Jessica Woodbury
May 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, best-of-2015, religion, bff
Lots of people leave their religion as they grow up. It can be a simple step or a very traumatic and difficult one. But hardly anyone faces the challenges that Jacob faces in Eden West. Jacob has been brought up among a small religious group (the kind we'd easily classify as a cult) where they live off the land and don't interact with the outside world. It is not an easy life, but it is full of faith. And while the group certainly has its outdated practices, they aren't nearly as horrifying as s ...more
I am not sure how this book is garnering so many stars. I can only see handing this book to someone who complains of insomnia and needs to be put to sleep. The pacing is brutally slow, and the plot is weak. I found the premise of the cult to be ludicrous.

Spoiler Alert*****************
Really? All these people follow this guy because he has found a new tree of life and it's a crabapple tree?? No one recognizes this or are they just that astoundingly stupid? I am never sold on the charisma of the
Feb 19, 2016 rated it liked it
there were so many parts of this book that dragged. So much walking through nature and quiet that I have to admit I was bored most of the time.
the characters were not fleshed out in the slightest. I would say this could be because this book takes place on a compound where everyone wears the same clothes and speaks politely to one another in meaningless, superficial pleasantries, however, I'm noticing this a lot more in YA. that most every character is kind of blah and cardboard-y. which is why
Ann Valdez
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a unique read! At first I thought I would not like it, but then enter the world of a teenager living in an isolated community! This book captivated my interest for so many reasons. Now I am curious about what the high school students will think of it.
I have read a couple of Pete Hautman's books, and I will read Rush next (as soon as the boy who checked it out today returns it.) Blank Confession is also good. Hautman knows how to write and develop creative stories not like the other YA book
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
What an amazing "coming of age" tale! I am so impressed by this author and this novel -- that he was able to imagine this young man's life and thoughts so vividly, so deeply. I kept forgetting I was not reading a memoir! How much imagination and creativity it must have taken to craft this tale of a young man growing up in what he considers an ordinary way, when in reality his life as a member of a far-from-mainstream cult is truly extraordinary! And yet, the truly beautiful part of it is that on ...more
This is an excellent book. The story was beautifully and expertly told.

The story is told by Jacob, almost 18, who has lived in Nodd with his parents for most of his life. Nodd is a religious commune in Montana, lead by Father Grace. Jacob is, for all intents and purposes, happy and content with his life in Nodd until things happen to make him question his faith and the only world he has known.

I felt that the author gave so much grace and beauty to both worlds, and amazingly did not fall into t
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Jacob lives with about 80 others on a religious compound in Montana. On one of his biweekly patrols of the fence, he encounters Lynna, a Worldly girl living next to the compound. She and Jacob become friends, though their every interaction tests Jacob's faith. As a long, hard winter drags on, Jacob's doubts take up more space in his soul. By the time spring finally arrives, Jacob is not the same boy he was--and Eden West is not the same place.

Mixed feelings. I liked the dystopian feel to this, m
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
It wasn't that there was anything terrible about this book but when I finished I just felt like there should have been more. The ending was predictable and frankly anticlimactic and most of the plot was just the main character walking through nature which got boring after a while. I felt like there were deeper messages here but I was just so bored I didn't really care. And while I know the main character was a seventeen year old boy I don't feel so many references to his penis were necessary. Oh ...more
Ms. B
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Is the community of Nodd a cult or not? Jacob has lived within the boundaries of Nodd since he was five years old. In his seventeenth year of life, things begin to change. He meets Lynna, the girl who lives on the ranch that borders the community and Tobias, who arrives at Nodd with his mother and sister. Jacob's beliefs about faith, the tree of life and the end times are tested in this coming of age story.
For those who are just looking for a good story or for those who like books about cults an
Jami Sailor
This is the third new book I've read this year about a teenager involved in a cult. This one was a little different in that it was told from the POV of a 16 year old boy as opposed to the other two which had girl narrators. It dealt with some of the same topics of isolation, sexual a is within the cult, how difference is dealt with inside the cult, and an awakening happening after contact with the "outside world." Eden West dealt with some tough topics on top of that including self harm. ...more
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This book was a page turner! The characters were really interesting and I found myself drawn into both Jacob and Lynna's stories. The details about the cult and its different members helped the book to flow well. I really enjoyed the heartwarming ending too.

I won this on goodreads first reads giveaway.
Hannah (The Curiouser & Curiouser)
May 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
DNF by first few pages, and that's really saying something. Usually, I'll give a book a hefty go, and try to get at least 50% through before tossing it aside. But this. Yeah, I knew from the first paragraph this just wasn't going to happen.

It's one of those types of books that reading it is tedious and unfulfilling.

Frankly, this girl just ain't got time for that.
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Pete Hautman is the author of Godless, which won the National Book Award, and many other critically acclaimed books for teens and adults, including Blank Confession, All-In, Rash, No Limit, and Invisible. Mr. Was was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Pete lives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Visit him at

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“I know that the World is a terrible place, filled with wild animals and evil men and wicked woman.” 1 likes
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