Dark Eden: A Novel

Dark Eden: A Novel

by Chris Beckett


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Dark Eden 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Twink More than 1 year ago
I don't read a lot of science fiction, but I quickly became intrigued from the opening pages of Chris Beckett's award winning novel - Dark Eden. (It was the 2013 winner of The Arthur C. Clarke prize). A runaway ship from Earth crashes on an unknown planet, along with the Orbit Police chasing them. Four men and one woman. Two of the five decide to stay on the planet they've named Eden, while the other three attempt to make it to Earth and send back help. That was 163 years ago - and they're still waiting. All 532 people. They've lived and waited at the same landing spot, telling tales of the mother and father of their Family, fondling the few relics they have, acting out the past as they know it, and simply surviving. Because they believe that they will be rescued and taken to Earth - they just have to wait. "We'll make a Circle of Stones here to show where Landing Veekle stood. That ways we'll always remember the place and know to stay here. And we'll tell our children and our children's children , they must always stay here, and wait, and be patient, and one waking Earth will come.' But young John Redlantern believes there is more to this planet they call Eden, more over the snowy passes, more on the dark side, more than the small same life the Family has been living for so many years, more than waiting....... Beckett's world building is imaginative. There is no sun on this planet, but the trees themselves provide the light. Alien creatures abound, but with some similarities to ones we know. His descriptions paint a vivid picture of an alien land. The language initially annoyed me - for emphasis, the inhabitants repeat a word - 'sad sad' or 'pretty pretty'. Some phrases took a bit of deciphering as they are evolved from original Earth words or phrases, such as Lecky-Trikity. But I quickly caught on and was caught up in Beckett's imaginings of a society started from two individuals. Two that really didn't like each other. What I really wanted to see was what was beyond and over the mountain and after The Dark. What would they find? Beckett tells his story from the viewpoint of more than just John. There are three young protagonists. John is the driving force behind the changes, but he wasn't my favourite. I found myself much more drawn to gentle Jeff, a young 'clubfoot', who is quiet, thoughtful and inventive. Many other characters, old and young, have a voice and a chapter as well, giving alternative views on the life and times of The Family. Beckett has created an imaginative tale of 'what if'. I enjoyed the exploration of Eden, the society of The Family and what might be. But I almost wanted to stop reading during the last bit of the book. Dark Eden is also a sad reminder of human nature and that history does indeed repeat itself. A different read for me - one I enjoyed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Slow start but builds to an interesting tale of the risks and rewards of exploration -- the things we give up and the things we gain, how new ideas are upsetting but enabling, and what makes human society both good and evil. I will definitely read a sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really interesting on many levels. Main character John starts out like he will develop into a complex character, but ends up a little flat. You see development into modern human societal thinking with all its evils. Sort of a loss of innocence story.
JennaP More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is essentially a retelling of Adam and Eve with a prehistoric undertone. As a history major, just the very idea of this book really pulled at my heart strings. If you love sci-fi, anthropology, and/or prehistory I think you will really like this book. I would really like to give this book a 4.5/4,75 rating.  I found the majority of the book to be a little slow paced, but later in the book I found myself completely sucked in. By the end of the book I was so upset that it had ended and I wanted to know more about their past and their future!  Because of this I find that the second book, Mother of Eden, is my most anticipated book!!
Patito_de_Hule More than 1 year ago
When a group of four people have to land on an unknown planet to regroup and repair their ship, they decide to split into two groups - a man and woman who do not want to risk the flight back remain on "Eden" alone, and the two others set back off for Earth with promises to send a rescue ship as soon as possible. Generations later, the people of Eden are still waiting. Still hanging out in exactly the same crash-landing spot. Still following the matriarchal rules structured by the mother of all. But their small area is becoming too crowded. They have to forage farther and farther for food. John Redlantern is frustrated with "Family." With their stubbornness at remaining in one spot when they could clearly spread out over the vast planet and have enough food for all. He's tired of the extreme ritualistic nature of "Family." The artifacts from planet Earth are passed around to be "ooohed" and "ahhhed" at, but they are meaningless to a people who have never experienced technology. John is tempted to disrupt the circle of the past, and create a new path for the "Family." In doing so, he breaks down everything "Family" represents. Let me start with an important point: although John Redlantern and his friends are teenagers, this is not a teen book. It's "literary science fiction." The beginning of the book, which builds the world, the people, and the tension, is really long and slow. It was a bit of a slog to get to the turning point. Once that happens they story finally begins to move a little faster - but even the post-turning-point action is slow. The reason the narrative is so slow is because this is a story about Meaning with a capital M, and not about plot or action. Don't get me wrong. There's a plot. A plot with Meaning. There were several allegories to the story. The obvious one is the Biblical creation story. It's all about how innocence is lost when people begin to get bored. But boredom is in our nature. Without boredom, we never learn new things. And new experiences don't just change you, they change the world. Dark Eden also explores a destructive nature of men - as opposed to a more structured, peaceful and confining nature of women. (This seems to be what the book implies, it's not exactly what I think of the gender divide.) Dark Eden demonstrates the irony that change is needed to survive, but change is destructive to survival. It's not just a book about changing the world. It's also about how the world changes the individual. The main characters in the book, especially John Redlantern and his lover Tina Spiketree, develop into strikingly different people as they adapt to the changing world. Innocence is replaced with deviousness. Ivory towers collapse, covering all bystanders with dust and grime. This is a story of identity. In other ways, Dark Eden is a book about faith. How faith can lift you up and keep you strong during difficult times. But how it can be manipulated against you, as well. And how, as you realize everything you had faith in is mistaken, you are first paralyzed with numbness, but then are able to move on as a new person. I want to give a good review for this book with so much Meaning. I mean, it should have been good. It had Meaning. But a great book has both Meaning and an ability to fascinate even if you don't see the Meaning. Dark Eden did not. In Dark Eden, the story was lost in the darkness because you were blinded by the bright, shiny Meaning. It was too slow, the hero wasn't even likable
TRFeller More than 1 year ago
On a sunless planet, John Redlantern is the protagonist who breaks the laws of the more than 500 descendants of Angela and Tommy, shipwrecked astronauts. The planet is volcanically active, which generates heat, and life has thrived there. The air is breathable, and both the animal and plant life are edible. However, the population has out-grown the food supply, and John leads a small group who break apart from the main one. There is also a problem with in-breeding, and a large proportion of the children are born with birth defects. The plot is not all that original, but the planetary ecology and the societal development are. Another source of conflict is that this society is in transition from matriarchal to patriarchal. The writing style is quite interesting in that it is written in multiple first-person narratives by John and other characters. Consequently, all the reader knows about the world and the society is what the characters tell you and what you can deduce from what they say. Their vocabulary is limited, because they have no books and the only computer ran out of power over a century previously. The ending clarifies much of the back story, but is open-ended, allowing for at least one sequel.
DCCM More than 1 year ago
The 532 inbred descendants of the original settlers of Eden  huddle around the same spot where their predecessors landed generations ago. They must wait patiently, the stories say, so that Earth will come and take them home. Every day is the same – scavenge, hunt, and wait for their saviors to come. But John Redlantern, barely fifteen years old, is restless. He sees that food is running out in their small valley, and the residents are multiplying like rabbits. Soon there won’t be any food, or any space for anyone  at all. Possessed with a drive to seek out a new, better home, John sets off events that change the face of Eden. He may not have  meant to cause chaos, but he will not back down. Part sci-fi survival story, and part good old-fashioned pioneer story, Dark Eden will enthrall readers with it’s fascinating, sunless world and deeply flawed, but wholly human, characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Review Dark Eden By Christ Beckett I was given this free book from Blogging for books, and inclined to say thank you. But on that note, I didn’t finish this book because just 40 pages in it because wildly inappropriate. I was looking for a good, pleasant read and got a dirty sci-fi world instead. He had everything right except the true meaning of a book. To enjoy it. I was thoroughly disgusted and am wondering why blogging for books would advertise this book at all. I would not recommend this to anyone. And I don’t plan on finishing it. It was a great idea, a great fantasy world. But the author ruined it.