Happy pub day Renee Linnell!
I’ve always held such a morbid fascination with cults. The sociological and psychological aspects fascinate me, and I’ve always wondered how people that are (forgive the severely inadequate word, but honestly I can’t think of a better description) “normal” get swept up into such a bizarre world.
In The Burn Zone, Renee Linnell is just that, a “normal” person that one day realizes they’re in a cult. Even though her childhood was not exactly “mundane” (she lived for part of her life on a boat near in the Bahamas), she suffered from struggles that so many people deal with: familial strain, the loss of loved ones, the challenge of finding meaning and purpose for her life, and the struggle to make friends. Then one day in 2006, one of her friends invited her to a special seminar. She vowed to never go back… but then she did. Again, and again, and again. She became so enthralled by her guru, paying thousands and thousands of dollars to attain the “enlightenment,” the feeling of being whole and pure that she craved her entire life.
Even though this was a very engaging novel, I won’t say it was an especially easy read. I found myself cringing, wishing that I could go back in time and shake some sense into Renee, and wanting to give her a big hug because even with her missteps and flaws, she was such a genuinely likeable person that I couldn’t help root for.
Overall, the story was simultaneously captivating and heartbreaking, and while I found myself wanting to shake Renee for missing several warning signs, she did an excellent job telling her story and making the situation seem extremely…plausible? Understandable? Some combination of the two? Thank you so much to FSB Associates for providing me with a review copy. It’s always my pleasure to share my honest thoughts and opinions!