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 feel peace. Fox belongs to a group called the Institute of the Boundless Sublime – and Ruby can’t stay away from him. So she is also drawn in to what she too late discovers is a terrifying secretive community that is far from the ideal world she expected.
Can Ruby find the courage to escape? Is there any way she can save Fox too? And is there ever really an escape from the far-reaching influence of the Institute of the Sublime?
A gripping YA novel about an ordinary girl who is unsuspectingly inducted into a secretive modern-day cult.
Welcome to my stop on The Boundless Sublime blog tour! I’ll be giving some brief thoughts on the book before letting the author of The Boundless Sublime, Lili Wilkinson, talk about her struggles with coming up with title names and how The Boundless Sublime got its title.
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Boundless Sublime is a thrilling and dark exploration of modern day cults and what it means to be part of one.
Ruby has had a rough 6 months. Her younger brother was killed in a car accident and she feels like it’s all her fault. Her family has been torn apart and Ruby and her mother are tiptoeing around each other and pretending that everything is okay, even though her mother is too depressed to get out of bed and Ruby has been partying every night in order to forget. But when she meets the mysterious and alluring Fox one day, she becomes enamoured and falls quickly in love with him and his ideologies. When he takes her home to meet his ‘family’, she’s intrigued by their lifestyle and decides to join them. And that’s when things get a bit dark and dangerous.
I’ve always been intrigued by cults but have always been kind of too terrified of them to find out more. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t do well with thrillers and mystery novels so you can imagine what I’d be like if I ever did research on cults. But I felt like The Boundless Sublime gave some really good insight on how all-consuming it can be and how wonderful it would feel to be around people who believe in the same things that you do. Also, what this novel does really well is convey the feelings of belonging that might not be possible in the ‘real world’, outside of a cult. I could understand Ruby’s wanting to be part of The Institute of the Boundless Sublime because she feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere else in the world. But it was quite scary how quickly things escalated and how quickly a person can become drawn into all the dark and scary things that are going on without knowing it.
I did have a little bit of a rough time with the characters though. I didn’t find them to be realistic and I had to really suspend my disbelief a lot of the time. It got better in the second half of the book but I definitely found it hard to connect with Ruby and with most of the characters in the book. I did like Fox a lot but he was a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Boy and that was a little bit off-putting to me. Ruby falls in love with him at first sight and this insta-love made it hard for me to enjoy Fox as a character. Having said that, there was much less focus on the romance and on Fox in the second half of the book and I enjoyed it a lot more at that point.
LILI WILKINSON ON WRITING CHALLENGES AND BOOK TITLES
The Boundless Sublime is much, much darker than the books I’ve written before. I expected that would be a challenge, but actually I loved writing dark. I’d just had a baby when I was writing the first draft, and days with babies are so full of forced cheer – you’re trying to be upbeat and positive when you are often exhausted and overwhelmed. It was such a relief for me, when Banjo went down for a nap, to pull out my laptop and pour all my withheld darkness out into the story.
The biggest challenge for me in writing The Boundless Sublime, was getting the title right. Titles are THE ACTUAL WORST and I don’t think I’ve ever written a book where the title came easily – usually the title changes three or four times, and I often have to change the content of the book itself to fit the final title.
I knew the title of the book would be the name of the cult, and I nearly went crazy trying to find the right one. Here are a few that I tried on for size and then rejected:
The Divine Quintessence
The Flowers of Antimony
The True Family
The Ministry of Truth
The Atomic Family
The Children of Zosimon
After much discussion with my wonderfully patient editors, we settled on The Institute of the Boundless Sublime for the cult name. The characters in the book refer to it as “The Institute”, which I really like because it reflects the kind of pseudoscience often found in cults and new religious movements.
The title really needs the cover to work – on its own it could sound like a romance, or a dreamy coming-of-age story. But the contrast between the positivity of “The Boundless Sublime” and the darkness of the cover really works magic – warns the reader that something that seems perfect and beautiful on the outside can often be rotten to the core on the inside. Big props to Astred Hicks at Design Cherry for her fabulous cover design.
Let’s Talk About Sects webseries about Lili’s cult research: http://www.liliwilkinson.com.au/lets-talk-about-sects/
More information about The Boundless Sublime: https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/childrens/young-adult-fiction/The-Boundless-Sublime-Lili-Wilkinson-9781760113360
The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $19.99, available now at all Australian retailers.
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