I am so excited to be able to participate in the blog tour for Those Who Prey by Jennifer Moffett! Thank you Turn The Page Tours and Simon & Schuster for letting me participate! Be sure to check out the tour schedule and the other tour hosts! And they do currently have a giveaway for a copy of this book, so be sure to check that out if you’re interested!
Sadie meets The Girls in this riveting debut psychological thriller about a lonely college freshman seduced into joining a cult—and her desperate attempt to escape before it’s too late.
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.At times unsettling and always riveting, Those Who Prey looks at the allure of cult life, while questioning just how far we’re willing to go to find where we belong.
I am a big thriller fan and as someone who did one of their senior theses in college on cults, this was a book I had to read. Cults have always fascinated me and to read from the perspective of a college student, alone in a new state, I was really interested. I thought the book was well thought out and really interesting, although the format seemed to change halfway through? Part I was formatted differently from the other three parts and it threw me off a little bit, but only because I liked how the other three parts were formatted.
One thing I liked about this book was that it showed how normal an organization can appear to people. People don’t join cults. They don’t walk into the cult headquarters and say “This is a cult? Cool! I’ve always wanted to join one.” They are groups that people identify with or give them access to supportive friends and family that use manipulation and other horrible tactics to keep people from leaving. The whole motivation behind cults is to recruit new members who devote their time to their cause and line the pockets of the people in charge. Kind of like a business, but more exploitive, harder to leave, and sometimes deadly.
From the author’s note, it appears that the author herself was part of a cult at one point in her life and I can see that experience through this story. I really enjoyed this book and I think it’s a great way to talk about cults and educate young adults on how they work. Especially since a lot of them do target young people who are lonely or who have moved to a new place.
I half loved reading the moments in Italy. Part of me was just excited to know what happens and explore the area. But, as we get deeper into the story, Italy turns into a nightmare that I couldn’t look away from. I really like how the idea of “Oh, maybe this isn’t normal. Maybe this is a bad thing.” took time to cultivate. Everybody came to the idea at their own, normal pace. Plus, this book takes place in the early 90’s so the younger generation gets a glimpse at what people really had to do to travel abroad and get in touch with family. Sometimes I miss the days without smartphones, other times I think about these situations and go, nope! Nevermind!
Overall, really great book that made me feel sad, since this is something people go through all the time. One thing I did have an issue with though, was that the climax of the story happened very soon and the ending seemed to drag because of it. I felt like the ending could have been a lot shorter and we could have experienced more in Italy. But I still like how it turned out overall. // 5 stars. Thanks to Turn the Pages tour and Simon Teen for providing an ARC for me!
What inspired you to write THOSE WHO PREY?
The general idea started with the image of an unconscious college girl in the middle of Tuscany. And then questions about what happened to her followed.
What made you decide to focus this story around a cult?
I’ve always been fascinated by campus cults, high-pressure groups that target college students far away from home. When I researched the real-life accounts of campus cult survivors struggling with anxiety, anger, and even shame from their experiences, I was so moved by their heartbreaking stories. Those Who Prey is a thriller, but I wanted to show step-by-stop how this could happen to anyone. And how it still happens today.
If you had to swap lives with one of your characters, who would you choose and why?
I’m not sure I would want to experience the particular things my characters have to go through in this book. Ha! Having said that, I would love to have Emily’s level of courage and resilience. No matter how bad things get for my characters, they are still in the starting point phase of their lives with plenty of room to heal and evolve.
If THOSE WHO PREY became a movie, who would be your dream cast?
Kaitlyn Dever from Booksmart and Unbelievable would be perfect as Emily, the main character. I can see Abigail Cowen from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina as Heather, the charismatic college girl who recruits Emily into the cult. And Margaret Qualley as the mysterious Kara. Ahhhh! Someone go make this movie, please!
What was your favorite part about writing this book?
I love writing creepy scenes. There are a few suspenseful moments in the book that still feel unsettling, even after reading the manuscript a hundred times.
JENNIFER MOFFETT grew up in Arkansas, where she spent her childhood playing in creeks and climbing trees while dreaming up stories about faraway places. A college study abroad program sparked her lifelong passion for travel. After working in children’s television in New York City, she received an MA in Creative Writing and wrote book reviews for regional publications. Her short stories and poems have appeared in various literary journals, including New Orleans Review and descant. She teaches creative writing on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where she enjoys kayaking, gardening, reading outdoors, and planning trips to new places (preferably with great local yarn shops and bookstores).
Her debut YA thriller, THOSE WHO PREY (Atheneum, Simon & Schuster), is about a shy college freshman who is seduced into joining a campus cult, leading her on a deadly mission trip to Italy.