About the book:
Broadway Books // 4.1.14
On the alien, sunless planet they call Eden, the 532 members of the Family take 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.
If that piqued your interest, just wait until you read an excerpt! Use this link to head over to Scribd to find the first two chapters of Dark Eden.
I'm not quite sure where to start with this one- which is fitting, because that it hows I felt in the beginning of the novel... I wasn't sure what I thought of the novel. It did draw me in quickly, but as I kept on reading, I couldn't pin my feelings down. Dark Eden is strange, but I like strange and I think Beckett did strange well in this novel.
Set in another world called Eden, we meet a cast of characters who all quickly demonstrate their purpose- not only within the book, but their purpose for being written. Each character pulls at a part of the human psyche or at a part of our social consciousness. They all serve a purpose- and while Beckett made some a bit more obvious than others, it was still quite clear that each character was a part of the collective whole of a human consciousness. Does that make sense? It does in my head, but- like the book- it may take a bit to wrap your head around when seeing it put to paper.
Dark Eden is a beautifully built world- I have to say that I was astounded at how well Beckett crafted an alien world. Creating the images that he described was thought provoking and used my full imagination. I really had to think about a few of the creatures and a few of the landscaping components while reading. As you read on, you start to connect that all the pieces of Eden are evolved from pieces of Earth and you can start to spot the likeness between certain things. Here is where I normally would connect a piece or two... but I don't even want to match up any small connections, because I want you to read it and do it- it really is quite fun to see your own light bulb go off and make those evolutionary connections between ours world and Eden.
Aside from character and setting development, the themes that come out in this novel are plentiful. We see gender roles, disabilities, social norms, free thinking, sexuality, and faith (among others) all brought to the surface while still meshing into the novel. I could see some heavy debates coming if a book group took on this novel. Some are challenged while others are just there. All the issues that come to a head would be fabulous to discuss- especially when put firmly into the setting of Eden and then contrasted against the realities of Earth. Again, I would throw some examples out there, but I seriously enjoyed the thought that went into reading this, so I'm saving that for you readers to enjoy on your own.
Overall, this novel was intriguing. It held my attention and it was well thought out. You can tell that every move and every twist was well planned by Beckett- like chess- an analogy he often uses in the book itself. There were some parts that tripped me up, which held me back from giving this 4 stars. The language was a bit much to get used to- the repetition of words and the puzzling names for things- and while I understand it is part of the setting being in Eden, I still think it went a bit overboard at times. It was a bit of a stretch and felt forced. In an interview (you can find the Amazon author review here) Beckett defends his use of double adjectives and changes in language. I agree with him- to a point. As a reader, it just seemed to go a bit beyond what I felt was necessary to highlight the changes. Another thing that I struggled with was the science- I know this is science fiction but some of it seemed a bit far-fetched and didn't have any basis or background. I crave that when reading sci-fi, even if it is just a smidgen of real science.. and if there isn't any hard science added, I at least want some fake science tossed in to make it seem a bit more plausible. I'd say I was annoyed with the ending, but a sequel will be released, so I am retracting my ending-hate on the basis of a sequel which will tie those loose ends together!
Those things aside, I did enjoy the novel. I think science fiction fans will like this one, but it would be a stretch for those who aren't into that genre- it feels like it would be a bit too far out of the comfort zone for some.
About the author:
Chris Beckett was born in Oxford, England in 1955, and now lives in Cambridge, England. He has published three novels - Dark Eden, The Holy Machine and Marcher - and two short story collections: The Turing Test and The Peacock Cloak. He has been publishing short stories in the UK and the US, since 1990.
The Turing Test, won the Edge Hill Short Fiction Award in 2009, the UK's only national prize for single-author short-story collections. Dark Eden won the Arthur C. Clarke award in 2013.
More information about his writing can be found at www.chris-beckett.com
Chris Beckett's background is in social work and he has also written several text books on social work.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow
FTC: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Image from Scribd page. Book synopsis, author information, and author image from Amazon.com