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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
In Obedience, when we meet Emma and the only parents she knows, she calls her father by the odd moniker of “Leader”. Our first question is why? The woman she knows as her mother is the icy Monique. Emma is on constant tenterhooks around both of them as she is trained to “learn, grow and obey”. She does attend school but has no friends. She and her “siblings” participate in social functions with their parents but each child is given a mission to fulfill at these events. Lying or disobedience is harshly punished, but the children are being brainwashed to believe it’s all for their own good. Of course, while Emma complies out of fear, anger and the desire for freedom are raging within her. When a persistent young suitor offers escape, the resulting conflict within her and with the family brings everything to a head with catastrophic results in unexpected ways for both Emma and the reader. What will happen next? That we will find out as Nichole M. Willden writes the continuation of the “Guild” series.
As a victim of childhood abuse, I am incessantly drawn to books, both fiction and nonfiction, that depict the psychological effects on growing children of harsh discipline, curtailed freedoms, unfair parental expectations, and constant activity monitoring. Obedience by Nichole M. Willden explores all these aspects in a cult-type setting, and the result is a tension-filled tale that keeps readers perplexed and glued to its pages. Though a long book, Obedience is well-crafted. The plot is engaging, the characters captivating in their uniqueness. Willden has aimed her story at young adults who will quickly identify with the emotions and pastimes of the teens in this story while being somewhat “freaked out” by the circumstances of Emma’s home life. I was intrigued enough by Obedience to check out Nichole M. Willden’s bio. It explains everything about what prompted her to write this engrossing story. The seeds of her novel are rooted in her upbringing. You can learn more about that on the author's website.