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Hello! Kat's back for not Friday (oops), but with something fun and different. Unofficial Sci-fi Saturday, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. Today I'm going to share a review of DARK EDEN by Chris Beckett. A copy of DARK EDEN was provided to A Backwards Story for an honest review. The following content is filled with my honest thoughts, and was not bought by any individual or group.
Definitely an eye grabbing cover, though not much for a guess on content beyond the cleverly blended trees in the background of the text. But not a deterrent for me. Look at the colors and the fun text! The colors are like the aurora borealis, and I think that is fantastic. Also, it is very shiny in person. Shiny never hurts in my opinion.^_^
DARK EDEN starts off in the mind of a young man named John Redlantern as he is on a group hunt. Right off the bat you get to experience a more tribal aspect of the people of Eden, and how John interacts within his own group. As young as he is, John is a real stand out kind of character in that he retreats from social norms and thinks more progressively about the long run. This is odd for a young man in Eden, and Eden itself is a strange and alien place in many ways, and you quickly get to realize that through John. First and foremost, there are different groups of people living here. As a whole, all of those groups combined are called Family. Family lives in a place called Circle Valley, which is where the people from the past crash landed in a spaceship (which the people of Eden now refer to as a "sky boat"). Second and very important, Eden is a planet with no sunlight. Hence, DARK EDEN. The "trees" grow lights, and some animals have body parts that glow. How strange and beautiful!
Here I want to take a moment to throw out there that the language took me a moment to adjust to. Not only is this book from the UK and I am not, but the culture of the characters is also devolved. Beckett did a very good job in displaying how far away from Earth Eden is through the use of slang, the repetition of simple words, and strange mutilations of words from modern society, like "electricity" and "secretary". It did take me a couple of days to adjust, and I did have to google a couple of word meanings, but I did resolve in my mind that this is the part of the story that makes the voices of these characters so genuine. Putting it in modern American English in my mind took too much from the characters and the world as a whole. So if you do pick up DARK EDEN, keep in mind that the language is the heart of the culture, and don't get frustrated! When in Rome, right? Immerse yourself and settle in for a wildly imaginative ride.
Alright, once you get adjusted, John slays a leopard. Apparently this doesn't happen often, because everyone immediately makes a big deal out of it. Also, this leopard is not at all like an Earth leopard. It sings, glows, and apparently has two hearts. But I digress. John is suddenly a celebrity in Family. The groups of Family and the duties of the people in those groups are the third thing that is revealed quickly about this world. As a reward for "doing for" the leopard, John gets a "no work waking." Since Eden is a land with no real daytime, the groups of Family have "wake time" and "sleep time," and they all don't necessarily sync up with one another. During John's "no work waking," we walk around through a few of the different groups of Family and get to really see how primitive the culture is. The different camps and the people John encountered were really interesting to read about and easy to picture in my mind. Very rich descriptions and unique character dialect made it very easy.
However, I want to make sure to warn you that there is a lot of mention of sex and quite a few sex scenes. In DARK EDEN sex is called "slippy," and referred to as "slipping," or "having a slip". It suits the story in that it is merely a way to procreate, however, if you find it inappropriate for teens or yourself, then you are now warned. In the beginning of the story, it is a frequent occurrence.
Moving along, Family holds "Any Virsry," which is where the group leaders and elders call everyone together and tell the stories of how Tommy and Angela came to Eden and got stuck there. It is Family's most important event and only shown holiday, and the group leaders go over their laws and make adjustments as they see fit. Here is where the story gets intense. You are bombarded with Family's mysterious history and get to see their sacred objects from Earth. While all of this is going on, John makes an outburst that shakes the entire population. From hero to outcast, he then deals with the repercussions and has to make a decision that no one before him has ever even considered. Should he leave Family and everything he has ever known to go over the mountain Snowy Dark to seek out a better place for them? But first, how is everyone going to react and how is he going to deal with that?
Overall, DARK EDEN is a unique tale of growing up and the responsibilities that come with that. But what makes it stand out, aside from the strange planet, is the story itself and its flow. I had no idea what to expect to come out of the dark of Eden to threaten its inhabitants, and what did come out was exciting and very cool. By the end, I was so blown away by how everything had turned out. I was very surprised by the crazy conflicts and resolutions. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is a fan of epic space sci-fi and wants a book that puts the adult in young adult.
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