Dark Eden by Chris Beckett (4 out of 5)
I had this advance for many, many months. I finally read it a couple of weeks back (I am way behind on my blogging book reviews!) and enjoyed it immensely. It’s been out since April and I’ve only started digging out the older books to try to get some of them read and reviewed. I feel guilty asking for a galley if I’m not going to read it, so even if it’s months later, I’m going to read it and review it. This one made me wish I’d read it a lot sooner!
Dark Eden takes place on a sunless, distant planet called Eden. Currently inhabited by a small population of beings called The Family, legendary tales of the past are recounted where sunshine shone, where boats were crafted and people living on Eden were able to cross the stars in the boats, and those people (travelers) made living more possible on Eden. Now those living on Eden must sit on the planet and wait for the fated day when those people will return and Eden can return to that glorious state. In the meantime, the dark permeates everything, the mountains of the Snowy Dark sit uncrossed and imposing in the distance, where no man dares to tread, where the cold dark night is so unrelenting and vast that no one has ever tried. And then there was a young man named John Redlantern who dares to change the ways of Eden.
Ever so often in literature, as in life, there needs to be a profound change. And someone has to have the balls to do it. In the case of Eden and the tried and true ways, John is the one to shake things up, break the laws of the land, and find a way to rewrite the history of Eden. John Redlantern is another one of my favorite characters in a novel this year. Not just sci-fi, but any of the many things I have managed to read this year. Thankfully Redlantern has a few helpers in his quest to explore the untouched lands and to question why things are at a standstill on Eden, but it splinters the Family in ways that continue to recoil through the book. There is also a fair amount of determination in young John to have stories told about his heroic efforts after all is said and done on Eden, and that side of his personality gives the reader another angle, through the eyes of the Family that look upon him in sorrow for going against the grain. I really enjoyed the fact that you saw the efforts through both sets of eyes. I also enjoyed how everyone in this novel, whether you’re Redlantern, one of his followers, or one of the long-residing members of Eden got a fair shake, despite their stand in the shift on Eden. It’s a well crafted, interesting tale of survival and change, tears and triumph, then and the future.
The only thing in Beckett’s story that took some getting used to was the wording and phrasing of some things. Since I have this ability to spot misspelling, grammatical errors, and the like, it was hard for me to get through some of the rhetoric that Beckett employs in the tellings of Eden. For those who have no trouble not understanding the English language, you should have no problem getting where he’s heading with a number of scenes and occurrences in the book, but I had to stop several times and re-read to figure out what he was truly trying to get across. However- and that’s a big however- it is a whole new land and the people on Eden certainly may have their own dialogue and ways of speaking, and you have to respect that as a reader. It’s just hard when you write a lot and spend time re-reading and re-writing not only your own work, but others, and then you’re reading this fantastic little piece of literature and you have to stop and say “What?”. In this book, definitely worth it. I highly encourage you to pick up a copy and see how things turn out in Eden. You won’t be disappointed.