Thursday, January 18, 2024

Five titles about regretting that cult you joined

Olivie Blake is the New York Times bestselling author of The Atlas Six, Alone with You in the Ether, One for My Enemy, and Masters of Death. As Alexene Farol Follmuth, she is also the author of the young adult rom-coms My Mechanical Romance and Twelfth Knight. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, goblin prince/toddler, and rescue pit bull.

At Blake tagged five books that reckon with the "human question of what a person is willing to sacrifice—and what the compromising of their humanity will cost.... [T]hey each follow the tightening, irresistible maelstrom of the human psyche when it comes to facing which of a person’s principles they are willing to betray." One title on the list:
Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang

This book, not unlike Catherine House, understands the debilitating power of loneliness, and in this case, ostracization. Not to undress my inner child here, in front of you, my new friends, but how many of us have intuited the message that we didn’t belong, perhaps as marginalized people, or as girls, or as neurodivergent oddballs, or as first gen kids? This is exactly what makes us susceptible to the call of The Cult! In this case, cult recruitment for the wellness company Holistik comes in the form of a much-needed job offer, a socioeconomic matter that speaks to the narrator’s immigrant upbringing and poverty (hello NYC rental market). The things this book has to say about beauty as power (or is it?) fit propulsively into its bittersweet cyclone of inevitable doom.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue