Essence by Lisa O'Kane- BLOG TOUR

Author: Lisa O'Kane
Publisher: Strange Chemistry (Angry Robot)
Publication Date: 
Blurb Description: Autumn escaped a cult, but now she realizes she's fallen into another.
Growing up in San Francisco’s Centrist Movement, sixteen year-old Autumn Grace has always believed emotions—adrenaline, endorphins, even happiness—drain your Essence and lead to an early death. But her younger brother’s passing and a run-in with a group of Outsiders casts her faith into question.

Ryder Stone, the sexy, rebellious leader of the Outsiders, claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic -- and he can prove it.

Autumn follows Ryder to his Community of adrenaline junkies and free spirits in Yosemite National Park, and they introduce her to a life of adventure, romance, sex, drugs and freedom. But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community’s perfect exterior, she realizes the more she risks in search of the perfect rush, the further she has to fall. 


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If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

At the risk of sounding like a Miss America pageant contestant, I would say my wish would be that we would stop trying to impose our beliefs upon each other. We are never going to agree on everything (religion, politics, personal rights, etc.), so I wish we could be more understanding and respectful of our differences. There is really no such thing as black and white; life is all about shades of grey.

Three places you would die to visit:

There are so many amazing places in this world I haven’t visited yet. Right now, the highest on my list is my family’s ‘homeland’ of Ireland, particularly the Giant’s Causeway and the Ring of Kerry.

Photo Courtesy of Tobias Abel

I am also dying to visit Argentina and explore Patagonia’s Torres del Paine and Parque Nacional Los Glaciares.

Photo Courtesy of Christopher Michel

I would also love to just turn off my brain and relax in one of these amazing over-water huts in Bora Bora.

Photo Courtesy of Benoit Mahe 

Three things nobody knows about you:

1.      I seem low-key and easy-going, but I am actually quite anxious. I grew up believing I needed to prove my worth by ‘doing’ things all the time, so I tend to overstretch and overstress myself. Definitely working hard to overcome that these days!
2.      I am a huge fan of organization. I used to make fun of my father for being anal-retentive and obsessive, and I swear I have grown up to be exactly like him. My life is neatly organized into a color-coded Google calendar, and I can’t even imagine what would happen if that thing suddenly disappeared. *Shivers* I can’t even think about it.
3.      I am nearly 5’9”, and I just started wearing heels within the past year or so. I used to feel very self-conscious about my height, but I have recently decided I am done apologizing to the world about being tall. If my height makes other people feel uncomfortable about their own heights, that is no longer my problem! J

And now, onto your masterpiece:

How did you think of the Essence theory (and the Centrist Movement)?

The inspiration for Essence came to me randomly. I was in Vail with some friends during the winter of 2011, and we were watching a friend get inducted into the Snowboarding Hall of Fame. There were tons of early '90's snowboarding legends there, and I was struck by how poorly many of them had aged. Some had mobility issues (thanks to the beatings they put on their bodies), some had substance abuse withdrawal issues, and many others just seemed ‘different.’

I turned to my friends at one point and said, "It's weird. It's almost like these guys were given a certain allotment of life, and they've already used theirs up."

I imagined how scary it would be to grow up believing you may actually run out of your ‘essence’ and drop dead at any moment. I also wondered how liberated you would feel when you finally broke free from that fear. That’s what my main character Autumn faces when she finally decides to forsake her Centrist upbringing and join the free spirited, commune-like Community in Yosemite.

Your favorite dialogue from Essence:

Easy! Here it is:

Jett’s hand clasped mine. “Autumn,” she said. “You may think we’re wrong about Essences, but we just may be right. And your brother’s death will be meaningless if you don’t have the courage to find out.”

What can we see next from you?

I am always scheming for something new. Right now, I am particularly excited about potentially shifting into the New Adult genre for a little while. I have been drawn to college-aged characters for years, and I am so excited New Adult is finally beginning to gain momentum and credibility in the marketplace.

**My Review**

A brilliant theory, a unique book, and the most realistic descriptions I've read on how to live in a while!

"Neutrality is the key to longevity"- that's what she lived by;what everyone there lived by. That's what the Centrist Movement preached. Happiness, love, emotions, exercise, good food- all of it was banned. They Would drain your Essences, and when it was all gone, you would drop down on the floor *Poof*

Autumn Grace is one of these people. And when her baby brother dies tragically on the side of the road because he was interacting with Outsiders and the Centrist meditation masters refused to let anyone help him, autumn finds herself questioning the very fact her life is built around. 

After meeting a group of free, fun, and charming teens in a park, ones with the means to call the Centrist movement for exactly what it is- Crap- Autumn decides to leave her existence which she called a life and her mother and aunt to join them. 

It's here, in the ruins of Yosemite National Park after the Great Quake, Autumn finds an entirely new lifestyle. One that is the opposite to everything she believed was the truth; where their motto is "Abundance is the key to longevity" 

And that's all I'm going to tell you. Essence was an extremely intriguing book! I LOVED the idea of the Essence theory and the Centrist movement but hated it in practice. For more than half the book I was so intrigued- I literally couldn't stop myself from flipping each page faster and faster!

I loved the way she experienced the change from nothing to everything- her fear, exhilaration- as if I was right there with it. I even loved how the author described how Autumn got drunk and partied for the first time, and of course, fell in love!

Once three quarters were over, I felt that Autumn was losing herself, with her petty fights for Ryder Stone, and just her over dramatic behaviour. The ending redeemed itself, though!

My Verdict:

Recommended to all YA fans- especially those looking for something different! 


  1. Great interview! I loved your questions. It's always good to ask some different things. :D

  2. Oooh, Bora Bora and Ireland looks so inviting right now lol. I have such a long list of places I want to go to, in a few years we can start marking them off, God's willing :)

  3. What I want? This ! please, lol
    I have noticed New Adult is kicking off.