The Virtue of Sin

The Virtue of Sin

A novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free.Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she’s forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she...

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Title:The Virtue of Sin
Author:Shannon Schuren
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Virtue of Sin Reviews

  • Lisa Mandina

    I'm always intrigued by any story about a cult, don't know why, it's just something that grabs me. And this book did just that from the time I read the sneak peek, and then once I actually had the book in my hands and started reading, it was so hard to put down. This one was even better than others, because while I thought I knew what was going to happen, the author threw in several twists and turns that I did not see coming. My guesses as I went along were either so on track, or just to the sid

    I'm always intrigued by any story about a cult, don't know why, it's just something that grabs me. And this book did just that from the time I read the sneak peek, and then once I actually had the book in my hands and started reading, it was so hard to put down. This one was even better than others, because while I thought I knew what was going to happen, the author threw in several twists and turns that I did not see coming. My guesses as I went along were either so on track, or just to the side of what was actually happening. It all made sense as the twists were explained, and made the story, the cult itself, that much more devious. It also made you think about how what you've been told your whole life is always dependent on who is telling you those things, and what more is out there that you don't even know about it, if you don't look beyond what is easy and normal. I definitely will be recommending this for my students, as well as at the bookstore where I work.

  • Christina Dalcher

    Oh, yeah. Give me a book about a cult and I will devour it in no time, which is pretty much the way I read Shuren's fabulous YA story about love, growing up, independent thinking, and breaking free of dogma. Reminds me of a wonderful quote from Richard Dawkins: "There is no such thing as a Christian child; only a child of Christian parents."

    This is an important story for so many reasons, but Dawkins sums it up best. Oh, the things we do to our children.

    Thank you to Shannon and Penguin Random Hou

    Oh, yeah. Give me a book about a cult and I will devour it in no time, which is pretty much the way I read Shuren's fabulous YA story about love, growing up, independent thinking, and breaking free of dogma. Reminds me of a wonderful quote from Richard Dawkins: "There is no such thing as a Christian child; only a child of Christian parents."

    This is an important story for so many reasons, but Dawkins sums it up best. Oh, the things we do to our children.

    Thank you to Shannon and Penguin Random House (Philomel Books) for the opportunity to read and review an ARC of this beauty!

  • Sarai Davila

    This book. I am 100% here for books that involve women in oppressive, cult-like situations. I find that every time I read a book in which religion is used as a means of suppressing women and their natural strength, I grow a deeper insight into why women stay in these situations, as well as a larger desire to find a way to help.

    Although "The Virtue of Sin" is not expressly tied to one particular religion, it has the echoes and traits of a few different ones in our nation's history. The FLDS, in

    This book. I am 100% here for books that involve women in oppressive, cult-like situations. I find that every time I read a book in which religion is used as a means of suppressing women and their natural strength, I grow a deeper insight into why women stay in these situations, as well as a larger desire to find a way to help.

    Although "The Virtue of Sin" is not expressly tied to one particular religion, it has the echoes and traits of a few different ones in our nation's history. The FLDS, in particular, seemed to have influenced the cult in this book. Although this book does not address polygamy, it does deal with ceremony, ritual, modesty, false prophets, narcissism--all things that are associated with these cults. In addition to the way that these cults practice their religion, there is a physical element to this book that also feels informed by real life cults--they live, isolated, in a desert community.

    Schuren handles this delicate story with an admirable sense of compassion. It's not simply a manifesto raging against the practices of cults and how they affect women--although it certainly doesn't shy away from having a strong opinion about them. Instead, it's a story that explores the complexities of the issue--how for some, rigid societies can be a refuge from a world that never protected them, while for others it's a prison and nothing more. While the book never forgives the people who lie and deceive through a desire to genuinely help, it does handle their stories with a gentle touch, reminding us that they often make choices that we don't agree with, but that they are people with purposes that we can at least find empathy in. Those who purposefully deceive as a means of control, however, do not receive the same compassionate treatment.

    This book was well-written, lovely, and tragic in so many ways. I enjoyed reading about how girls must find their voices, despite overwhelming pressure to do the opposite. I loved seeing how people from different marginalized groups are often the backbones for each other. This book took a very real life experience for some women and turned it into something that we can all relate to, no matter our circumstances.

  • Ariana

    Originally posted on:

    *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

    There are so many aspects of this story that appealed to both the book nerd and psychology nerd in me and I was completely absorbed from the start. This is the story of two teenagers who have spent their entire lives in a cult and how they deal with their newfound clarity about their situation as they are thrown into adulthood in the community. It is a novel that portrays

    Originally posted on:

    *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

    There are so many aspects of this story that appealed to both the book nerd and psychology nerd in me and I was completely absorbed from the start. This is the story of two teenagers who have spent their entire lives in a cult and how they deal with their newfound clarity about their situation as they are thrown into adulthood in the community. It is a novel that portrays the importance of not always taking what people in power say at face value, fighting for equality, and learning to accept others—and oneself—for who they are.

    I absolutely love anything to do with psychology—I am actually currently a forensic psychology major—and the psychology of cults is particularly interesting to study. Seeing the mindsets of both the members and the leaders is both fascinating and chilling. This novel primarily demonstrates how the beliefs and laws a leader comes up with are drilled into members. We see how this warps a person’s thoughts and view of the world and how incredibly challenging it is to break free of these beliefs. Schuren’s depictions of these elements of a cult are very accurate, enraging, and heartbreaking.

    The primary subject dealt with in this novel is the unequal and extremely poor treatment of women within the cult. We see how the men silence them and do not allow them to make their own decisions. There are also other elements of the unfair treatment of minorities in the plot. The importance of standing up for these types of injustices, whether you are part of that minority or not, and of treating others with respect are shown through this story.

    I was surprised at how many twists there were in this novel that I did not see coming. And I liked every single one. Schuren takes the narrative in a number of unexpected directions. There are so many secrets spilled and revelations that propelled me through every chapter. This is a true page-turner.

    One of the only issues I feel the story has is that it does become a bit repetitive. I somewhat conflicted about this because it does make sense in context to some extent. The process of changing ones’ mindset and beliefs about something or someone—particularly in such a severe situation—takes a lot of time. Miriam actually does come around and see the lies of the cult’s leader fairly quickly in terms of the number of days over which the story takes place. However, I did feel that facts potentially did not need to be repeated to the reader after the first few times hearing them. Overall, this is just a very minor problem I came across.

    Miriam is an incredibly strong female lead right from the very beginning of the novel. She does not want to put up with the suppression and ill-treatment of women that the men of the cult have turned into an accepted way of life. She gradually finds her voice and stands up for not just herself and the other women, but for everyone who is under the control of the Prophet. Headstrong and intelligent, Miriam makes a wonderful protagonist.

    This story is not just told from Miriam’s perspective but also from Caleb’s, the boy she’s sure she is meant to marry. Alternating between these characters and seeing every situation through two different sets of eyes made this an even more intriguing plot. Schuren writes these narrators well, making their voices distinct from the other, which can be a challenge when working with more than one point of view.

    Both main characters and side characters alike are multi-dimensional in this story. They are clearly carefully crafted and they evolve and respond realistically to their environment and the events of the novel. They don’t feel flat—they are the driving force of the plot. I felt that I got to know many of the characters well, no matter what size part they play in the grand scheme of things. Just like the worldbuilding, the characters are equally as vivid, detailed, and fully fleshed out. Aaron’s storyline is probably my favorite out of all of them.

    My only issue with the characters is that a couple characters are rather unclear or inconsistent, mainly early on. I felt they became clearer pretty quickly, but I had a little trouble connecting with them at first. For instance, in Aaron’s case, I would think I was getting a handle on his personality and then he would do something that seemed out of character, causing me to become confused. There were times when I did not quite understand the motives for a character’s actions and those events were not always cleared up. Again, this is just a very minor issue I had.

    Tying in with what I said about the characters being multi-dimensional, Schuren does a good job of clearly indicating how they develop over the course of the story. They learn and grow and evolve. The events that take place and the upheaval they experience consistently affect each character, their actions, and their views of life and the world around them.

    Schuren’s writing style is definitely one of the strongest aspects of this novel. I found it very easy to get into and it had a very captivating quality to it. It was not just the story but the way she told it and worded it that held me in the narrative. The writing and the message it sends are both beautiful.

    I found Schuren’s worldbuilding to be absolutely fantastic. She creates this extremely detailed and frighteningly realistic picture of what living in a cult is like. She forms both the physical world and the psychological world of these characters through her words. It feels like you are there in the desert—in the supposed safety of the community. You experience the raw emotions and the sinister atmosphere. She really brings this story to life.

    This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it absolutely did not disappoint. It was so easy to become engrossed in this novel and I found it extremely hard to put down. I read through it so fast, just intending to read a couple chapters and realizing a while later I read over one-hundred or more pages. Schuren brings so many interesting elements together to create a story that will quickly draw in readers and open their eyes to topics that are very important and timely. I highly recommend picking this up and giving it a read.

  • meg chia

    Three-word description : voice, religion, freedom

    My rating : 4.5 / 5 stars

    Ah this book! This one is a book I've picked up solely because of the intriguing synopsis that speaks out to me so much. I have been meaning to read a book that deals with similar topics like this, and I must say this book is amazing!

    The plot starts off with Miriam, who had these dreams of the man she'd marry. She grew up living under the dictation of Daniel, the supposedly guidance on their path to Righteousness. Miriam,

    Three-word description : voice, religion, freedom

    My rating : 4.5 / 5 stars

    Ah this book! This one is a book I've picked up solely because of the intriguing synopsis that speaks out to me so much. I have been meaning to read a book that deals with similar topics like this, and I must say this book is amazing!

    The plot starts off with Miriam, who had these dreams of the man she'd marry. She grew up living under the dictation of Daniel, the supposedly guidance on their path to Righteousness. Miriam, who has never visited the Outside (basically out of New Jerusalem) is brought up to believe that everything Daniel said was true, until she was married to another man, but not of her dreams. (Literally, she dreamt about Caleb.)

    This is told in dual-perspectives, Miriam and Caleb, the man of her dreams as they try to navigate and plough through the lines between what is ture and what is not. What if everything you've been told to believe is not true? Even if you know it is false, what does it take to stand up and speak out?

    This book is kind of like Divergent? But at the same time, it is so different from it. I'd say this is also a little dystopian-ish? It tackles so many different topics, freedom and speaking out. This is truly such an extraordinary book to read! I also learnt so much about the Bible and the religion itself, this is truly a pwerful and eye-opening read to anyone who is interested. And also, it has a great pacing too!

    Miriam and Caleb are such strong characters, they truly are fearless and have changed from a tiny, timid mouse to a full-grown lion. This is truly an empowering read in so many different ways and I would not have it another way.

    Overall, all of you nee this book in your life! This will definitely be on top of your favorites this year! I hope all of you can pick this up when it is released in all good bookstores!

    Thank you so much to Times Reads for sending me an ARC of this book for reviewing purposes, however all opinion is my own. Keep your eyes and cash out to snatch this book when it is released in June 2019!

  • Amanda

    4 stars to this young adult novel about love, cults, and finding a voice.

    It is the day of matrimony in New Jerusalem and Miriam is ready to be Caleb's husband. Despite boys and girls being separated since children, Miriam is sure that Caleb will select her to be his wife. However, when Aaron, an outsider who wasn't born in New Jerusalem, selects Miriam, she is certain there has been a mistake. According to the leader of New Jerusalem, Daniel, dreams are a message from God and signify who should

    4 stars to this young adult novel about love, cults, and finding a voice.

    It is the day of matrimony in New Jerusalem and Miriam is ready to be Caleb's husband. Despite boys and girls being separated since children, Miriam is sure that Caleb will select her to be his wife. However, when Aaron, an outsider who wasn't born in New Jerusalem, selects Miriam, she is certain there has been a mistake. According to the leader of New Jerusalem, Daniel, dreams are a message from God and signify who should marry who. Miriam has had dreams of Caleb and Caleb has had dreams of Miriam, yet Daniel is insistent that the matrimony went to plan.

    New Jerusalem is located in the desert in Nevada and for Miriam and the other teenagers, they know only of what happens inside the walls of their community. No one is allowed to venture out, unless they are banished which is the ultimate punishment. For the people living in New Jerusalem, Daniel promises salvation for when the end of days come in exchange for being faithful. Being faithful means listening to Daniel (who claims he is a prophet of God), constant praying, and women submitting to their husbands.

    The book is told between the alternating perspectives of Miriam and Caleb as they live with the after effects of not being married to each other. While trying to discover what went wrong, both begin to realize there are secrets in their community and Daniel might not be the prophet they think he is.

    It was very interesting to see how a cult would get established and how the people in the community would actually believe in someone like Daniel. The book had a good message about finding your voice, even when others try to silence it. It was young adult in that it followed two teenagers who are in young love and are forced apart, but the ideas in this book could resonate with adults as well.

    *I won a copy of this novel through BookishFirst in exchange for an honest opinion.*

  • Sarah

    This young adult novel, written in the voice of several of the characters, is a fascinating look at the life of the individuals living in "New Jerusalem." A walled off community in the desert, led by Daniel, the founder of New Jerusalem. Miriam has lived in New Jerusalem all her life, she has been taught of the sin and dangers in the world outside the walls of her walled in home. She is safe in New Jerusalem, as long as she knows her place, believes in Daniel and all he teaches, and does what sh

    This young adult novel, written in the voice of several of the characters, is a fascinating look at the life of the individuals living in "New Jerusalem." A walled off community in the desert, led by Daniel, the founder of New Jerusalem. Miriam has lived in New Jerusalem all her life, she has been taught of the sin and dangers in the world outside the walls of her walled in home. She is safe in New Jerusalem, as long as she knows her place, believes in Daniel and all he teaches, and does what she is told. She is told be be quiet, that singing is wrong outside of worship, that she cannot always know the secrets of what lays before her, but she must step into the next moment with faith. When we meet her, she is just about to be married. She believes she knows to whom, and she definitely knows who she loves, but things do not always work out as we plan. Can the unexpected change Miriam's life for the better?

    Shannon Schuren is a talented writer whose novel is easy to read and keeps the reader engrossed and connected to the story. Her characters are believable, well defined, and easy to either love or hate, depending on whom we are talking about, and where you may be in the story. I raced through the book, always wanting to know what happened on the next page.

    This tale of love, faith, betrayal, and standing up for what you believe, is worth every minute you spend on it and every penny you spend to get it!

  • Nèngath

    I love stories about cults, small villages and isolated communities. There is something about small groups and concentrated violence that I find particularly interesting and even fascinating. I have read plenty of them, so I tend to be very critical. Thankfully this one is very good, the author adopts her own unique approach to the cult trope, the story is richly original and imaginative. Only the end is rushed and disappointing.

    The story takes place in the desert, in a remote community living a

    I love stories about cults, small villages and isolated communities. There is something about small groups and concentrated violence that I find particularly interesting and even fascinating. I have read plenty of them, so I tend to be very critical. Thankfully this one is very good, the author adopts her own unique approach to the cult trope, the story is richly original and imaginative. Only the end is rushed and disappointing.

    The story takes place in the desert, in a remote community living around an ancient motel. Miriam and Caleb have always lived in New Jerusalem. While boys and girls are not allowed to speak to each other (and girls at all), Miriam and Caleb have been fond of each other since childhood. But the day of the Matrimony, it is another boy, Aaron, who chooses Miriam first as his bride.

    But don't worry, there is no love triangle, for the simple reason that

    . In fact, nobody ends up with nobody. The friendship between Miriam and Aaron even proves stronger than the short lived romance between Caleb and Miriam. I was pleasantly surprised by the characters and their individual growth. It is not a story about teenage love, it is a book about growing up, speaking up for yourself and keeping an independent mind.

    The story is told from the two points of view of Miriam and Caleb. While I love Miriam and her strong spirit, Caleb's voice is more interesting. Most stories about cults have female main protagonists, because we all assume that men love cults, oppressing women, and can only be abusers. But Caleb is not happy. In fact, he has been emotionally abused his all life and is easily manipulable. The only bright light in his life is Miriam, and the more he despairs, the more obsessed he becomes with her. Soon he is convinced he can fix everything wrong in his life and even in the community if he gets her back. Caleb is such a twisted, ugly, pitiful and likable character. In comparison, Miriam is your typical intelligent, nice and brave heroine who is able to easily question her world within a month, which I find hard to believe. I found her cousin Rachel or even the mean Suzanna more complex characters. Rachel is trying to be perfect to redeem the "sin" her mother committed. Pretty Suzanna prostitutes herself to gain power in the community. Both are maybe less likable characters than Miriam, but they are more nuanced.

    The end is really rushed and I didn't like it.

    The author does not deal with the aftermath of living in a cult or the process of healing at all. Yet, I think it is this long and painful process that should be more explored. I would in fact welcome a book that would begin after the girl run away from the cult. If you know any, please, tell me.

  • Tomes And Textiles

    A feminist examination of religion and cults, in particular. I loved the dismantling of the use of bible verses in defense of patriarchal behavior. I also loved the discovering of the belief of oneself and coming into your own. Very few YA books about cults and this one is highly recommended.

    Full review can be found on

    .

  • Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا

    As a Palestinian, I was attracted to the book because it has the word "Jerusalem".

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