I am so thrilled to be a part of The Boundless Sublime blog tour – I’ve structured this post a little differently: first you’ll see my review, followed by a guest post from Lili Wilkinson introducing her characters and their inspirations.
The Boundless Sublime – Lili Wilkinson
27th July 2016, Allen&Unwin
352 pages, 4/5 stars
I fell in love with cult stories with The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly – it’s such an intriguing, strange topic! I read The Boundless Sublime at the time as The Special Ones, and both were fascinating – thrilling and creepy, offering insight into the minds of cult members. I also really like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which is about Kimmy’s life after escaping from a cult.
Ruby Jane Galbraith is the protagonist of The Boundless Sublime. Her family has been torn apart – her little brother is dead, her father is in jail, and her mother has fallen into depression. When she meets Fox, the world finally starts to look a little brighter. He is wise, understanding, and empathetic. With him, Ruby is at peace. Fox belongs to a group called the Institute of the Boundless Sublime – through her relationship with him, Ruby is drawn into the secretive community.
Being witness to Ruby’s induction into the cult was really intriguing. It highlighted how cult leaders prey on the vulnerable, and it examines the reasons why someone would elect to join. Each character has a very different story about how they came to the Institute. There are so many twists and turns, and the cult leader – an old man whom everyone refers to as ‘Daddy’ – was super creepy. I didn’t want to put this book down!
The cult was developed quite well initially – basically, modern living is poisoning us, and we need to purify. However, there was a certain aspect introduced right at the end which just felt WEIRD! However, after watching Lili’s YouTube series on sects, that might not be so far from the truth!
I also didn’t like the romance – but then again, I rarely do. Fox and Ruby fell too hard too fast. Love and sex within the cult is also very strange. Women are invited into the Inner Sanctum to experience sublimity with ‘Daddy’. Ewwwww!
Overall though, this book is a page-turner and it will horrify you, especially if you delve further into the weird world of cults.
GUEST POST: Characters in The Boundless Sublime – by Lili Wilkinson
In this post I’m going to talk about the inspiration behind the three main characters in The Boundless Sublime – the protagonist Ruby, love interest Fox, and the cult leader Zosimon.
Ruby is smart and skeptical, so when she is first introduced to the Institute of the Boundless Sublime, her bullshit detector is firmly engaged. But she’s also vulnerable. Her family has been torn apart by tragedy, and she can’t see a way out of the darkness. I wanted her to have agency – I’d read plenty of cult stories (real and fictional) where the protagonist is born into a cult, or kidnapped or otherwise compelled to join. I wanted Ruby to choose to join, then choose to stay. And I didn’t want her to be rescued when things got ugly. It was important to me that she wasn’t a damsel in distress – her choices lead her to do some terrible things, and she alone has to deal with the fallout.
Fox was very much based on the late actor River Phoenix. Phoenix was the first celebrity I ever had a crush on, after I saw him in the fabulous Running on Empty with Martha Plimpton. There was something about him – he seemed wise and gentle, but there was a sadness behind his eyes. Learning more about him, I can see that he was a little bit broken, and that led to his untimely death at 23. He was raised in The Children of God – a new religious movement that was – according to reports of ex-members – controlling, abusive, and the absolute worst place for a child to grow up. In Fox, I have attempted to replicate that inner trauma and pain, and that outer beauty, charisma and empathy.
Zosimon was inspired by many real-life charismatic leaders, especially Charles Manson, David Koresh and L Ron Hubbard. I find these figures fascinating. In photos they look so unassuming and ordinary, but they obviously possessed great charisma, because they persuaded people not only to believe in their various doctrines and ideologies – they also persuaded people to do some pretty crazy stuff, from rejecting their friends and family, to giving up all their money and possessions, to following bizarre arbitrary rules regarding sex, food and daily living, to actual murder. Zosimon is a storyteller, and loves to tell wild, improbable stories about his various lives and adventures. He claims to be thousands of years old, and to subsist only on air and sunshine. One day I hit upon the idea that his followers all call him Daddy, and it was so unbelievably creepy that I just had to put it in.
Read more about The Boundless Sublime here.
Lili has also put together a fascinating webseries based on her cult research – it’s called ‘Let’s Talk About Sects‘ and it is fantastic – disturbing as all get-out, but Lili is very entertaining! Check out her videos here.
The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $19.99, available now. Buy it from Booktopia here!
The boy reached out and touched my arm. Even through my jumper and shirt, it made my skin burn. ‘You think you can hide inside your grief,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t work on me. I see you.’
Ruby Jane Galbraith is empty. Her family has been torn apart and it’s all her fault.
The only thing that makes sense to her is Fox – a gentle new friend who is wise, soulful and clever, yet oddly naive about the ways of the world. He understands what she’s going through and he offers her a chance to find peace. Fox belongs to a group called the Institute of the Boundless Sublime – and spending time with Fox means spending more and more time with his ‘family’. Soon Ruby is drawn into what she discovers is a terrifying, secretive community that is far from the ideal world she expected.
Can she find the courage to leave? Is there any way she can save Fox too? And is there ever an escape from the far-reaching influence of the Institute of the Boundless Sublime?
A gripping novel about an ordinary girl who is unsuspectingly seduced into a modern-day cult.
Stop at some of the other blogs along the blog tour – Lili Wilkinson is so interesting!!!