On an alien world of perpetual darkness and bioluminescent plants, two space-farers remained behind while their companions left in their damaged landing shuttle to seek rescue.

Six generations later, a new society — ‘Family’, has grown through a process of intense inbreeding, polyamorous relationships, and the yearly remembrance of their Earthly origins. Whilst the population is growing, it is plagued by birth defects, declining education, dwindling resources, and a religious insistence to remain around the orignial spot of the original two members’ arrival.

A young adult, John Redlatern, is dissatisfied with the status quo and decides to make a dramatic change which will shake Family to its core, and things will never be the same again.

When starting to read Dark Eden, things didn’t look good. It was first-person narrative, which I’ve struggled to enjoy in the past, though I’ve become more tollerant of it in recent years. This was followed by with Hmmph, hmmph, hmmp, went the trees all around us… — okaaaay!?

Next there was the language shift brought on by years of isolation and passed down speech, with words such as wakings and whitelantern plus the double adjectives — “cool cool” to equate emphasis. All of this left me disoriented as a reader. But somehow I read on.

Think Lord of the Flies meets Avatar. With the way ‘Family’ talk, I also couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the orphaned children in Mad Max 3. Same sort of vibe with thier reverance of artifacts from their ancestors, their misguided hope for rescue, and their phonetic morphing of nouns. Dark Eden is largely a story about primitive humans surviving in a science fiction setting, and spends much of its time exploring the nature of society. It worked well enough as a standalone book, but with the tribe ‘Family’ on the cusp of complete change for the first time in six generations, I felt there was more to be had from how the story plays out.

Much of the plot was predictable, and I was expecting things to get much darker in tone. However, the ending fizzled out somewhat. Thankfully this is the first in a trilogy, and I am looking forward to returning to the strange world of Eden to hopefully see the full ramifications of John Redlantern’s actions.


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