Sarah O'Connor

Writer – Playwright – Cannot Save You From The Robot Apocalypse

“A few nearby disciples sniff, The same guilt and resentment and anger I felt earlier bubble up again, but this time it’s directed toward myself. The same question keeps repeating in my mind: What have I done?” (Moffett 103).

Emily thought college would be very different. She imagined immersing herself in college life, meeting friends, finally finding and feeling like she belonged. Instead she finds herself alone, feeling disconnected from her family and classmates. But then one day in a café the Kingdom finds her and offers everything she’s wanted: friendship, a possible boyfriend, , and finally feels like she’s found a place and people who accept her. When Emily is chosen to go on a mission trip to Italy she thinks it will be an exciting experience, but when the Kingdom takes their passports and money, things take a dark turn and one of the members ends up dead.

Those Who Prey was a great debut and Moffett clearly did a lot research on cults. I liked how Moffett didn’t show cults as inherently villainous as they’re often showed in the media but how they come into power, the manipulation tactics that are used, as Moffett says in her author’s note, “I wanted this book to show how this happens. How it could happen to anyone” (398) and she did that incredibly well. I find in similar narratives victims of cults are often shown as stupid, missing obvious signs of the cults manipulation and evilness. Those Who Prey shows how easy it is for people to become part of a cult, how these organizations target people, as Moffett explains, “(c)ults also pretend to be one thing – promising to change your life for the better – and they rarely show their true colours until you’re in way too deep to easily walk away” (397).

While I enjoyed Those Who Prey I did have some issues for it. For one thing certain parts of the book, like how quickly Emily is accepted into the cult and the Italy trip feels fastforwarded, especially with how quickly the Italy trip happened but I know that as a major plot point a certain suspension of disbelief was needed. I also wasn’t a fan of the framing device of an article being written about Emily. It was interesting at the start and definitely played into the “thriller” aspect that marketed the book, but the article device really ends up going nowhere, it almost feels like the article started as Moffett’s original story that was apparently edited out, but kept for the framing device to keep the “mystery” aspect.

Those Who Prey is an excellent, well-researched contemporary novel that looks at cults in a realistic way. I wish more YA authors did this much research when writing contemporaries about certain topics, Moffett put a lot of care into this book and it’s clear to see from the writing alone.

twpPublication: November 10th 2020
Publisher: Atheneum, Simon and Schuster
Pages: 416 pages (Hardcover)
Source: Library
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction, YA
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤.5

“College life isn’t what Emily expected.
She expected to spend freshman year strolling through the ivy-covered campus with new friends, finally feeling like she belonged. Instead, she walks the campus alone, still not having found her place or her people so far away from home.
But then the Kingdom finds her.
The Kingdom, an exclusive on-campus group, offers everything Emily expected of college and more: acceptance, friends, a potential boyfriend, and a chance to spend the summer in Italy on a mission trip. But the trip is not what she thought it would be. Emily and the others are stripped of their passports and money. They’re cut off from their families back home. The Kingdom’s practices become increasingly manipulative and dangerous.
And someone ends up dead.

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