By: Larissa | July 20, 2015 | (48) Comments

Discussion Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie OakesThe Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Release Date: June 9th, 2015
Genres: YA, Drama, Fairytale Retelling
Pages: 400
Source: Received in exchange for review
Goodreads | Purchase

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.

Discussion Review by Melanie and Larissa

*this review is spoiler-free*

 Growing up, I believed in miracles. I guess I don’t anymore.

Larissa: The author’s ability to immerse me in this story was incredible. I could definitely feel the claustrophobic nature of both the cult and prison setting. For me it elevated the novel in a way that can only be described as harrowing.

Melanie: Yes!! I absolutely adored Oakes’ writing. I read it in one sitting because it’s one of those books that suck you in at the very first sentence and never let go.

 Larissa: There’s so many amazing quotes that can be found in this novel. Oakes’ writing will drag you in from the very first page and will captivate you to the end. I read it in one sitting. I honestly can’t believe this novel is a debut and it’s truly unique in the YA genre.

Jude taught me what love was: to be willing to hold on to another person’s pain. That’s it.

Minnow is also one hell of a character. She’s been through so much and yet has this strength about her. Figuring out the mystery surrounding the cult came with some serious development as the details came to light.

Melanie: It was certainly a breath of fresh air! It reminded me off All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry, now thinking about it! Both these novels are so dark, harrowing and masterfully told.

Oh yeah Minnow was such a great unreliable narrator. I honestly didn’t know what to think of her half the time because of it but I loved how smart and strong she was, especially once she became handless.

Look at me. My arms are crossed over my stomach and, at the ends of the arms, an absence of hands, of fingers, of fists, of nails. Of any way to fight back.

Larissa: Yeah, I also loved Angel as a side character. She certainly brought another level to the novel. Seeing her friendship slowly develop with Minnow was a beautiful thing to witness. I’m all for female friendships presented in YA and this one left me with the biggest smile on my face.

Melanie: ANGEL. She’s my favourite character, honestly. She is such a well drawn out character that I totally grew to love and while she may be standoffish to begin with, she can be so damn sweet, perhaps not even intentionally. WHOO STRONG FEMALE RELATIONSHIPSSSS.

Larissa: Yes! I just wanted to hug Angel honestly. I loved how despite her prickly exterior you could still clearly see how much she cared for Minnow.

There was some romance in this one and I really liked how it was carried out in a way that felt a little different from the norm. The romance wasn’t there to heighten the drama or anything, instead I believe it was crucial to Minnow’s development as an individual.

Fear floated around like a constant pollen, but none of us were allergic. But there’s a moment when it all becomes too much. And it was coming like a wildfire bent on burning the whole place to the ground.

Melanie: Definitely agree. It was certainly essential to have to build up Minnow’s character. It’s not swoony or anything IMO but I still really liked it.

ALSO, I really liked the portrayal of prison here – it was all kinds of entertaining.

Larissa:  I still found it quite interesting and the love interest was certainly a character on his own. He definitely had his own backstory and issues to sort through.

Agreed! I think Oakes captured the atmosphere quite realistically.

Melanie: Kinda reminded me of Orange is the New Black, actually!

Larissa: Oh yeah, definitely! Like I mentioned the before the author captured the atmosphere of a prison quite well. What I enjoyed is that like the show Orange is the New Black, Oakes manages to weave a story set in a prison that is not only gritty and dark- but also surprisingly humorous and hopeful.

Melanie: And the flashbacks too when Minnow was still at the Community! I loved how it just pieced everything together little by little.

Larissa: Yeah the flashbacks were executed brilliantly! Sometimes flashbacks can be confusing or integrated poorly, but that definitely wasn’t the case here. Rather, the transitions were done smoothly and I just loved how interconnected the past became with the present.

Melanie: Honestly, it was just such a powerful read – the atmosphere felt so real… equal parts thrilling and horrifying. Just FANTASTIC.

Larissa: Completely agree, Mel! The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is an undoubtedly amazing debut for 2015 that just can’t be missed. I really can’t recommend it enough.

~Thank you Penguin Canada and HarperCollins Australia for the review copies~

4 Stars
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Larissa was born and still is living in the land of ice, snow and maple syrup. She's 18 years old and really has no idea what to do with her life lately. Larissa's plans are constantly changing--though there’s one thing has remained constant throughout her seventeen years, and that’s reading. It takes her to another world and puts her into impossible situations and that’s why she loves it so much.

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48 Responses to Discussion Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

  1. Johanna Richards says:

    Ooooooh I really want to read this one, especially after reading your review! I had no idea most of this was set in a prison, so that’s exciting!! I can’t wait to meet Angel, too! Great discussion review, Larissa and Mel 😀

    • Larissa says:

      READ IT OMG. I can’t recommend it enough. And yes the prison setting is definitely well done in my view. Angel was such an amazing character ahhhh. Thank you girl <33

  2. GREAT discussion! This one was definitely one of my favourites of this year… which is saying something, considering I am usually very tough to please 😉 The set in prison part of the novel actually took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting that. But I thought it worked really, really well with the story — and had me on the edge of my seat most of the time.
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    • Larissa says:

      Thank you! It’s definitely one of my 2015 favorites too. And yeah the prison setting took me for a bit of surprise too, I was expecting the book to take exclusively in the cult. I loved it though. Like you I was so completely engrossed

  3. Nirvana says:

    I’m looking forward to this book so much omg. Because diversity (I’ve never actually read a book where the MC doesn’t have hands, so that was a good touch.) Also, prison. Also, romance that isn’t there to heighten the tension. Asldklas I’M EXCITED NOW 🙂
    Nirvana recently posted…// reading, breathing, glasses thievery, artistic attempts //My Profile

    • Larissa says:

      You should be omg! And yes there definitely is diversity in this novel, it definitely comes across as true in the novel. BE ALL KINDS OF EXCITED

  4. eileen li says:

    I SAW YOUR NEW BLOG DESIGN AND GOT EXCITED. THATS ALL.

    ps i miss you guys :)))

  5. Vane says:

    Great discussion! This is the book I’m more excited to read right now! I’ve been disappointed in thrillers so far this year, but this one seems good.
    Vane recently posted…Review: The Wrath and the DawnMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Thank you <33 This book is honestly totally worth the hype. I hope this one doesn't disappoint for you, though I wouldn't personally categorize it as a thriller? Hmm.

  6. Hilary says:

    Awesome discussion! Maybe this book will finally convince me to watch OITNB. I’m mostly excited to read about a protagonist who doesn’t have hands (what? It’s cool.)
    Hilary recently posted…Top Ten Books That Have Wandered Foolishly Into My Greedy HandsMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Thank you Hilary <33 Lol I must admit I still haven't watched OITNB, only heard of the hype haha. LOL yes, having no hands is certainly unique for the YA genre and it brings diversity which is awesome

  7. This sounds pretty good! Great review guys! 🙂
    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted…{ARC Review} Nothing Left to Burn by Patty BlountMy Profile

  8. I’ve been wanting to read this one since I first heard about it. Most of the reviews have been so positive.
    La Coccinelle @ The Ladybug Reads… recently posted…Review – The Here and NowMy Profile

  9. I wasn’t sure about this one. The whole cult thing scares me. I’m glad you both enjoyed it. The mystery aspect sounds good. Is there magic? Yay for good book friendships!
    Molly Mortensen recently posted…The Edge of Forever

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    • Larissa says:

      Awww Molly. Well I still think you should give this a shot, I really do think it’s worth it. The mystery will definitely have you on the edge of your seat. No magic in this one, though it is based on the story of The Handless Maiden.

      I adored the friendship presented in The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

  10. This one sounds so good. Everyone seems to love it. Definitely checking it out! Oh, and love this style of review too. 🙂
    Rachel @ Rachel’s Reading Corner recently posted…Sunday Overview: Boredom & A Bucket ListMy Profile

  11. That’s awesome you both really loved this one – always good to hear. Love these discussion reviews!
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Focus On Me by Megan EricksonMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Yeah (: I really do hope you give this one a chance, even with the hype it’s receiving I think it deserves even more.

      Thank you girl <33

  12. Awesome review. I just bought this one and I am so excited to read it!
    Cynthia @ Bingeing On Books recently posted…Beach Reads: Recommendations NeededMy Profile

  13. Aww, you girls!!!! I’m more than convinced!!!

    Those quotes you posted are so beautiful <3 <3 And I can't wait to meet all of those characters. They all sound pretty amazingly created and absolutely loveable.

    Great unconventional review :D!
    Lola @ Hit or Miss Books recently posted…Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam SilveraMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Yay! Hahaha, I’m glad this one needs more love because AHHH KLDSJFKLSJDLSK. I loved it to bits.

      Aren’t they though!? It was hard to choose only a couple because honestly, all of Oakes’ writing is beyond beautiful.

      Thank you Lola <33 I miss you

  14. Been seeing some pretty awesome review for this book! Will definitely have to check it out soon! Great discussion review guys!
    Cyn @ Book Munchies recently posted…Teaser Tuesday: The Art of SinningMy Profile

  15. Hannah says:

    Great discussion! That blurb is incredibly intriguing – can’t wait to read this one!
    Hannah recently posted…Review: The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee AhdiehMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Thank you! And yeah, this one is just as intriguing as the blurb makes it out to be. You’ll most definitely be on the edge of your seat for the whole time.

  16. I’m currently reading The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, so this discussion review post was perfect for me. And even though I’m only a few chapters in, I absolutely have to agree with the points you two brought up! Great review, girls. 🙂
    Julia Anne @ Peach Print recently posted…Book Review: Saint Anything by Sarah DessenMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Oooo! Ahaha I hope you continue to love it, this one is honestly one of my favorites for this year. It’s honestly so amazing ahhhhh.

      Thank you <33

  17. Yayyy, I loved Angel’s character as well and how Minnow’s character was so strong! THe juvie scenes were interesting to me as was the mystery and cult aspects. Loved the discussion review guys!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Splintered by A.G. Howard Review: Love Triangle HellMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Haha yes Angel was undeniably awesome. And of course so was Minnow, she really was the pinnacle of strength to me. The mystery definitely captured my attention and it never faltered.

      Thanks so much Jeann <33

  18. Bella says:

    This sounds so good – I can’t wait to read it myself! Oakes’ beautiful writing has me excited, as does the well-developed characters and setting. The subject itself is such an interesting one, and I am intrigued by the comparison to Orange is the New Black. Lovely and creative review! 🙂
    Bella recently posted…Musical Moodboards / NewsiesMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      It definitely is and I honestly recommend it to you so much. There’s just so many positives to The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. And yes, I haven’t seen the show myself but apparently it’s similar? Haha.

      Thank you Bella <33

  19. I’ve heard SO many good things about this book and I promise, I promise, I’ll get to it on day. I’m glad you guys enjoyed it so much and I LOVE how you guys do your reviews and tell each one of your thoughts. Super Cool and fun! 🙂

  20. Naban says:

    Great discussion, guys! The diversity is screaming my nameee huhu. I can’t wait to read this and the quotes are just beautiful.
    Naban recently posted…Book Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam SilveraMy Profile

  21. Totally agree, I loved this one! It is hard to believe it’s a debut for sure. And YES to Angel! She was fabulous, and so necessary for Minnow to have. I feel like I could read a separate book about every single aspect of this one: Jude, Angel, the parents, the cult, a sequel, it was just SO well done! Glad you both loved it too 🙂
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    • Melanie says:

      Angel was seriously THE highlight. Yes, that is so true! All of these characters were just so darn fascinating. I would love to read a book about Angel’s story.

  22. Lyn Kaye says:

    I disliked All the Truth That’s In Me, but I am hoping for a positive reaction for this one. I bought this when it came out, but I just haven’t been able to get to it yet due to a busy reading schedule.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: Simon vs The Homo Sapiens AgendaMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      I’d be very curious to hear your thoughts on this one, Lyn! It is kinda similar to All the Truth That’s In Me but it’s always worth a try.

  23. Valerie says:

    ANGELLLLL. She was my favorite! Lovely discussion review guys! I did like this book, but not as much as you did hahahah. I hate prison books because it makes me sad inside (like for Angel)
    Valerie recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday #66My Profile

  24. oh my goodness now I just want this book more. It sounds incredible. The writing sounds strong, great characters. yes need this now.
    JennRenee McDaid recently posted…Wee Reads: Where’s Spot by Eric HillMy Profile

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