Out of Eden

Out of Eden

by Peter Johnson

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In the time since his parents' divorce, Stony hasn't had much to say to his father. It's not just the embarrassing things his father does in public, like picking fights with strangers on the golf course, needling his ex-wife about the car she drives, and asking girls whether they're attracted to Stony. It's also that his father hasn't talked with him--even once--about…  See more details below


In the time since his parents' divorce, Stony hasn't had much to say to his father. It's not just the embarrassing things his father does in public, like picking fights with strangers on the golf course, needling his ex-wife about the car she drives, and asking girls whether they're attracted to Stony. It's also that his father hasn't talked with him--even once--about his taste in books or girls, or about the painful stuff that has happened, like his grandmother being murdered, "inexplicably," as Stony's psychiatrist says.

Then it's summer, and whatever their relationship issues, Stony is headed for a New Hampshire vacation with his father, his sister, Molly, and his father's girlfriend, Sally. They plan to hike, watch movies at the condo, and visit the local caves. But at their very first stop to get a burger along the turnpike, Stony's father gets into an argument with a creepy-looking skinny guy and his huge friend. Sally calms Stony's father down, and the four of them drive away from the rest area--but not, it turns out, from the skinny guy and his friend.

OUT OF EDEN is not just about the loss of innocence, it's about coming face-to-face with evil.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Johnson (Loserville) explores the human capacity for evil in this story of a family being stalked by a coldblooded murderer named Leopold, and his accomplice, Abraham. Seventeen-year-old Stony has been obsessed with the nature of evil ever since his grandmother was inexplicably murdered years earlier, and he gets a chance to see evil up close during a road trip from upstate New York to a New Hampshire condo with his divorced father, 15-year-old sister, and his father’s girlfriend. At a rest stop, Stony’s boorish father provokes Leopold and Abraham, who (unbeknownst to him) have already zeroed in on Stony as their next victim. The great majority of the narrative belongs to Stony, though occasional passages in italics give a glimpse inside Leopold’s twisted thoughts, upping the dramatic irony and overall tension. Johnson opts for a slow build (while the family has several run-ins with the killers, most of the action takes place in the final chapters), and his unwillingness to provide simple answers for Leopold’s actions leaves readers to contemplate the horror of meaningless violence. Ages 14–up. (Feb.)
Voya Reviews, April 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 1) - Suzanne Osman
At once a cautionary tale (when a crazed stranger provokes you, think twice about fighting back), a psychological case study of evil, and a chilling survival story, Out Of Eden begins by introducing its readers to a reticent teenage boy named Stony struggling with his parents’ divorce, the murder of his grandmother, and the typical angst of growing up. Soon enough, he embarks on a summer vacation with his brainy little sister Molly, his formidable father who has been diagnosed with anger management issues, and his father’s charming girlfriend, Sally. What begins as a pleasant trip promising idyllic wilderness walks and natural cave explorations, however, quickly turns into a harrowing nightmare when the family accidentally meets two psychopathic killers. Feeling wronged by Stony’s father’s aggression at a local burger joint in town, these two creepily sadistic men set out to make him pay for his rudeness by capturing and torturing the whole family. While not likely suitable for at-risk readers or adrenaline junkies due to sporadic passages of lengthy description, character analysis, and abrupt shifts in point of view, suggest this to more patient and capable readers who relish the horror of Neal Shusterman, Scott Westerfeld, and Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games trilogy). Reviewer: Suzanne Osman; Ages 15 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
A family vacation goes asunder amid notes of Deliverance, religious delusions and frighteningly plausible violence. Seventeen-year-old Stony and his sister, Molly, have been roped into a road trip to New Hampshire with their father and his live-in girlfriend. The siblings commiserate about the trip and their clueless father's teasing and hotheaded machismo. At a rest stop en route to their vacation rental, their father has a confrontation with two derelict characters, Leopold and Abraham. Abraham is a simple brute, but Leopold is a complex religious zealot who fancies himself an angel of death, chosen to exterminate those undeserving of life. After the tense and foreboding run-in, Stony and his family are marked and subsequently hunted by Leopold and Abraham. Stony's calm strength and extensive knowledge of psychoses (his grandmother's murder catapulted him into thorough studies of warped human minds) counteract the rash, hasty temper of his well-intending father. Though the majority of the novella is told in third person from Stony's point of view, there are brief, rambling and frightening glimpses into the mind of Leopold as he calculates with Bible-based fervor why and how his victims should die. At one point, Stony's father says, "How can you explain something so cruel and pointless?" It's the inexplicability of cruelty that makes this horrifying page-turner so effective. A compelling portrayal of inevitable, realistic violence and evil personified. (Thriller. 14 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—In this unsettling tale of seemingly random violence, Stony and his family are stalked and attacked by two drifters. Following his parents' divorce and his grandmother's murder, Stony has withdrawn from his blustering, aggressive father, Arthur. When Arthur asks Stony and Stony's sister, Molly, to take a weeklong New Hampshire vacation with him and his new girlfriend, Sally, the teens comply. At a roadside rest area, they encounter two drifters, Leopold and Abraham, who are traveling with a distraught woman. A confrontation between Arthur and the drifters ensues and soon the police are called. Later, while hiking, the family is ambushed by the same men. Sally is raped "off-stage," Molly is traumatized, and both Stony and Arthur are badly beaten. Without notifying the police, Arthur finds Abraham and Leopold, and, with Stony's help, gets retribution. Woven into this fast-moving, suspenseful story are the sporadic, hallucinatory musings of Leopold who has been stalking Stony and his father. Breezy dialogue, vivid characters, and the rugged White Mountain landscape add compelling realism to this sinister tale. There are some unanswered questions that may leave readers stumped: Sally, a school guidance counselor, leaves her rape unreported, while Stony and Molly decide not to talk about what happened. Oddly resigned to their fate and resistant to professional help, the adults decide not to involve the authorities. Although Stony feels more connected to his father after their shared trauma, readers may wonder how Stony's nightmares can be so easily erased.—Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC

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Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

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