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Posted January 16, 2013
The Low Down: Joss Kazdan is a seventeen-year-old angry young man. To be honest, he’s always had a bad attitude, been a troublemaker. Things got even worse when his younger brother, Eli, committed suicide. The only thing he loves more than getting on everyone’s bad side is his little sister, Callie. Joss has been home from juvie after being locked up for almost two years. After his brother died, and the bullying perpetrator was never held accountable, Joss torched the bully’s house.
He seems to be falling back into his old habits, but what’s worse this time is that his brother is dead, his dad hides from the family and his mom keeps him at a distance. Then one day, something strange happens. Knocked off his bike while riding home, he hits his head and is knocked out. When he comes to, he hears the most beautiful sound. Like someone chanting ‘Om.’ And it makes him feel happy. A way he hadn’t felt in years. “...[i]t’s as if I’m hearing the birth of all creation. Like the universe is being born at every moment.”
By chance, Joss meets a couple who has been studying this sound, trying to understand why anyone over the age of six cannot hear it. Why it makes those who can hear it euphoric. What it means. They are attempting to build a machine that can replicate the sound so that the people of the world can be realigned with The One, the highest power who created all. As they work on this, Joss learns about what different religions believe about The Golden Age when humans lived in paradise, and what happened to cause Earth’s inhabitants to be expelled from it. These things are related in some way.
But not everyone wants the world to become happy and peaceful. As more people use the machines to be happy, horrible things start to happen. And understanding who is causing these plagues and why and how to return the world to what it once was is a leap of faith that Joss can’t take alone.
Best Thang ‘Bout It: When he heard the ‘Om,’ Joss could hear the dog’s thoughts.
I’m Cranky Because: I really didn’t like the book. It wasn’t the kind of story I would normally read. I don’t like religious or pseudo-religious subject matter, even if it is presented in fiction form. So I didn’t connect with the story. Plus, everything was resolved so easily. Without much struggle. And when some really horrible things were going on, I didn’t feel like they were horrible. I was told they were, but that’s it. And they still had electricity?
The characters were pretty much one-note with no depth to them. Dad was distant and sad. Mom was resentful and angry. Bully was punchy and mean. Sister was devoted and sweet. And Joss believed the ‘Om’ without a backward glance.
To Read or Not To Read: No ‘yes’ from me.
Crashing Eden by Michael Sussman was published May 11, 2012 by CreateSpace. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review.
Posted October 5, 2012
Crashing Eden is one of those books that makes you rethink, or at least wonder about, all that you thought you knew or thought you might know about the world, what makes it tick, and what could bring it to an end. Michael Sussman concocts an imaginative world where science and religion of all kinds combine, creating a path to the enlightenment of the human race.
The story line is very fast paced and simple to follow which made it easy for me as a reader to keep the pages turning. As it progresses, enlightenment becomes achievable instantaneously to anyone who was willing to give it a try, but rather than bringing people together as one, it brought people at odds with each other, not to mention totally ticking off the Creator God. The world gets torn to bits and can only be saved through what boils down to forgiveness. There were a few key moments that I wish had been expanded upon, but there is a great message here of compassion and complete acceptance leading to peace.
Joss, our main character, is a kid who's been put through the ringer by his family and his own self-deprecating thoughts. He sees himself as a no-good, juvie punk, but although he says he's done some major damage, I never really saw it for myself as I read. Joss tells us rather than shows us how bad he is (or was, really), which leads me to believe that most of the "evil" he sees in himself was a reaction to a horrible situation in the past, not who he truly is. He has it in him to be good, as we see with his relationship with his sister, Callie, but he tends to focus on the negative. How can he not? With crap for a mother and the blame for everything horrible that's happened to his family constantly falling on his shoulders, how else is a guy supposed to feel?
Most of the other characters, with the exception of Callie and Alessa, were very much in the background. They didn't really stand on their own, had similar voices, and I didn't feel much of a connection to them, except in relation to Joss and his actions. I loved Alessa's strength and courage, and while I felt that her relationship with Joss was a bit forced, I did appreciate the reaction she got out of him. It proved that he did indeed had a heart, even when he thought he it was impossible, and that even he deserved forgiveness despite everything, which seems to be a recurring theme in this novel. Again, the positive messages in this novel are undeniable.
The writing style is fluid and easy to read. The tone is a nice mix of serious depth layered with light humor, making this a novel for a wide range of ages. As I've mentioned, the novel is based on the ideas of many religions, combining and morphing them into "One" idea. Where religion is involved, there's bound to be some friction and a crazy, wide range of opinions, so just keep that in your open minds :). But it's fiction, it's fun, and it's an interesting, thought provoking read.
Posted June 14, 2012
Crashing Eden is a fast paced apocalyptic thrill ride. The characters are very real and have problems that many people deal with today: depression, suicide, alcoholic parents, coping with grief, etc. The blend of science and religion is fascinating. Once I picked up the book, I didn’t want to put it down. The end has a twist that, in retrospect, I should’ve seen coming, but was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t. On the one hand Joss is a normal teenage boy, dealing with family problems, but in the end he is an extraordinary character that realizes his existence is about much more than himself.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 3, 2012
I must admit that I didn't catch on to the religious theme of this book right away. If I had, I don't think I would have given it a chance. I am more of a spiritual being and while I do consider myself Buddhist, I don't always follow that to the tee either. I tend to shy away from anything with a religious tone. That being said, I'm VERY glad I decided to read this book. I absolutely loved it and it is actually the best book I've read so far this year!
We follow Joss, a tortured soul who seems to do bad in everything that he does. He's a miserable human being to say the least. His mother hates him, he feels responsible for his brother's suicide and everyone at school has labeled him unworthy of friendship. Then after a freak accident he starts hearing this OM sound and feels what he thinks is enlightened. Suddenly his life is turned upside down and the adventure is only beginning!
Michael Sussman really did his research with this book. You can tell that he's very knowledgeable about the things he's discusses, and it makes you want to hang on to his every word. He also mixes various religions so that it's not simply about one religious belief. The fact that he talks about Buddhism as well made me all warm and fuzzy inside! If I were to recommend ANY book to someone who hasn't yet ventured into the teen genre, it would be this one. There are no sparkly vampires or sexy hot werewolves, but it makes you think about things in a different perspective, religious or not. And for anyone who knows me, for a book like this to move me, that is pretty effing impressive!
I wish I could give this book ten stars! I could not put it down. I love a book that makes you want to research things that are talked about in it. I have a few other books I just have to read now and some thoughts/beliefs that I'd like to know a little more about. I hope Sussman continues to write young adult novels! As long as he does, I will be there to read them! Seriously, this book was just THAT awesome! Now to get a copy of his children's book...
Posted May 26, 2012
This has to be one of the most unusual and intriguing novels I’ve come across in quite some time. I was drawn into the story right from the beginning, and didn’t put it down until I was finished.
There were a few points that strained credibility, but I was able to let go of that and go along for the ride. The first-person narration is engrossing and Sussman manages to sustain a high level of suspense throughout. The plot is unique, and while some parts are disturbing, ultimately the story is an inspiring one.
Although this is a YA novel, I recommend it to adults as well as teens.