Friday, May 16, 2014

Dark Eden (Dark Eden #1) by Chris Beckett

On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees. Beyond the Forest lie the mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it. 

The Oldest among the Family recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross the stars. These ships brought us here, the Oldest say—and the Family must only wait for the travelers to return. 

But young John Redlantern will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. He will abandon the old ways, venture into the Dark…and discover the truth about their world.

Already remarkably acclaimed in the UK, Dark Eden is science fiction as literature; part parable, part powerful coming-of-age story, set in a truly original alien world of dark, sinister beauty--rendered in prose that is at once strikingly simple and stunningly inventive.

I loved Dark Eden so much! It's dark, gritty, unbelievable yet stunning.  Years ago, a spaceship landed on Eden and for a variety of reasons, it was unable to return home.  Those that remained began a legacy that remain unchanged for centuries.  Now, John Redlantern will question and pursue for answers and he will let nothing stand in his way.

The world-building is what sets this novel on a different level. Not only has Beckett created a stark, beautiful alien planet, but it's the characters that breathe life into it.  They have their own ways of doing things that at some point, made no sense, until it did.  The characters range from very young to the elderly but the focus is on the young adults - those in their teen years.

There are quite a few issues that are cringe-worthy.  Incest, sex just for the sperm with any age, and young teens having sex just because caused me to cringe more than once.  At times, there's a glimmer of emotion, but it's fleeting.  The breakdown of society and the preparation for the future is tumultuous but there is a hope.  I was hard put to put Dark Eden down because I really wanted to know if these humans would ever be saved or if they would shelve that hope and focus on their present day.  

The writing takes a bit to get used to, as well as the slang, but it's all part of the world Beckett has created.  Although the young ones are dominant in the story it is by no means a young adult book.  This is an adult book with some very serious issues but could cross-genre over into New Young Adult. I really enjoy Dark Eden and have thought about the story for many days after finishing.  I really enjoyed it!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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