Tosca Lee brings us a strong entry for the “young innocent woman tries to save the world” genre. The Line Between is a cult escapee, pandemic, dangerous emergency road trip book. Its heroine is likable, and the topic is fairly relevant.

The young protagonist is Wynter Roth, who’s grown up in an isolated cult compound near Ames, Iowa. Sylvia, her mom, brings Wynter and her sister Jaclyn to New Earth when they’re youngsters. Her main motivation is to escape domestic violence. At first everything seems idyllic, as you can imagine.

Soon after, we learn that cult leaders Magnus Theisen and his wife Kestral change the rules for new arrivals. Once reality sets in, things aren’t quite so lovely. The principles they follow are a version of Scientology with some Jim Jones-style megalomania stirred into the mix. Lee doesn’t hesitate to illustrate the cult’s toxic beliefs and practices.

But Wynter makes a life for herself, despite her teenage tendency for rebellion. Jaclyn does too, although her choices are quite different. There’s plenty of sibling rivalry in their relationship.

Because Lee moves the timeline back and forth, we learn early in the book that New Earth throws Wynter out. It takes a while to learn why. Her mom’s best friend Julie takes her into their home. Julie and her family try to help Wynter acclimate to pretty much everything about the 21st-century world. Then, when her cult leader’s prediction of end times seems to be coming true, Wynter must also save the world from a deadly virus.

My conclusions

Reading (or in my case listening to) this book demands some suspension of disbelief. For example, Wynter is immediately capable of some complex new skills. For a girl with barely a homeschool education it’s pretty amazing.

A young woman being the solution to blacked out power grids and a disease epidemic seems wildly unlikely. As for the book’s events, reading the author’s notes at the end of the book made them seem possible. Lee includes links to similar real-life situations.

Wynter also happens upon a guy who has all the skills she lacks. Another coincidence that’s necessary to make the story work. Of course, Wynter and Chase now team up for the tough stuff. And seem to be a perfect fit, without the slightest bit of tension even though their life experiences are complete opposites.

Despite my skepticism, I though Lee crafted a compelling adventure, with engaging characters and plenty of tension. The narration by Cassandra Campbell is first rate. When I wanted to double check some details, I even grabbed an ebook copy from Scribd (this link will get you two free months).

But is it the best book in this genre? Probably not. Still, escaping into a world that’s falling apart balances the real-life scary things happening today.

About Chirp

When I heard about Chirp Books, I was intrigued. What avid audiobook listener doesn’t want more inexpensive listens? And since it’s an offshoot of BookBub, it seems reputable. Plus, there’s no subscription fee or cost to join.

The selection of books is pretty broad, and the deals range from $.99 to $5.99. You do own your digital files, although I see no way to download to a computer or use any other listening method than their app.

This was my first listen using the Chirp app. It was a smooth listening experience, with less technical difficulties than I typically experience with Scribd’s audio app. I’m not as enamored of the file management aspects of the Chirp app, though. I had to visit their FAQs to figure out how to delete my downloaded file, since the process wasn’t intuitive for me.

Still, I’ll definitely keep checking their list for good deals.