Original publish date: 11 July 2014
To be perfectly candid, it took me a while to get into Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden. For the longest time I struggled to understand what world I was in or what was really going on. Some of this came from the language used, but a greater aspect of it was the delayed world building, which I felt to be a bit incomplete, even if it was a ploy to match the characters’ incomplete understanding of their world. The aspects of the world around them that they knew weren’t completely fleshed out for easy visualization, and perhaps that comes from the disconnect from a technologically advanced society spawning a primitive society.
Language was a rather large obstacle to overcome in this book. There was the duplication of words, such as “fast fast” when characters were speaking or describing something. At first, I thought it was an error, but its consistent use signaled a different type of language structure for the Eden society, which is a rather hefty undertaking for an author. To go along with the duplication aspect of the language, there were also words made up for new creatures and words spelled out phonetically for things we are all familiar with, such as a radio being referred to as a Rayed Yo. Stylistically, the language was intriguing, after an acclimation period and some reading aloud.
The multiple perspective structure of the story’s telling was something that I quite enjoy as it provides a more comprehensive portrayal of the characters and the events. The two primary point of views (POVs) were from John Redlantern and Tina Spiketree. There were six other characters who each had a chapter from their perspective and it helped to vary the voices and fill in details. Whether the secondary character POV chapters added a lot to the story I’m not sure, and it certainly threw me off the first time a “random” character’s POV was included, but seeing as they were included, they did intervene the “naturally” alternating POV at seemingly appropriate times.
It was an interesting read but it took me quite some time before I warmed up to the language and the premise. The sense of religious unease portrayed through John and a societies tendency to “need” to expand, there is closure to the story through the exploration that John and his Family begin; however, there wasn’t too much closure for the story as a whole as there’s the looming threat from the Old Family and we don’t know how that will play out–either a fight or continued flight situation. A bit a coming of age story, a touch of science fiction, and a bit religious, Dark Eden is a social commentary that doesn’t seem to be fully realized.
Overall, I’d give this a 3 out of 5 stars.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.