Saturday, 29 June 2013

Audiobook Review: Dark Eden by Chris Beckett

Title: Dark Eden
Author: Chris Beckett
Author Info: Website|Blog
Genre: Science Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Narrators: Oliver Hembrough, Jessica Martin
Publication Date: 14th June 2013

Tell Me About It
You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of Angela and Tommy. You shelter beneath the light and warmth of the Forest's lantern trees, hunting woollybuck and harvesting tree candy. Beyond the forest lie the treeless mountains of the Snowy Dark and a cold so bitter and a night so profound that no man has ever crossed it. The Oldest among you recount legends of a world where light came from the sky, where men and women made boats that could cross between worlds. One day, the Oldest say, they will come back for you.

You live in Eden. You are a member of the Family, one of 532 descendants of two marooned explorers. You huddle, slowly starving, beneath the light and warmth of geothermal trees, confined to one barely habitable valley of a startlingly alien, sunless world. After 163 years and six generations of incestuous inbreeding, the Family is riddled with deformity and feeblemindedness. Your culture is a infantile stew of half-remembered fact and devolved ritual that stifles innovation and punishes independent thought. You are John Redlantern. You will break the laws of Eden, shatter the Family and change history. You will be the first to abandon hope, the first to abandon the old ways, the first to kill another, the first to venture in to the Dark, and the first to discover the truth about Eden.

My Thoughts
First of all I want to say a HUGE thank you to Midas PR for giving me the chance to review this book via Audible.
Thank you's over, now its time to see what I thought.  I had not heard of Dark Eden, so when I was asked If I would be interested in reviewing it I did a bit of research before saying yes.  The book sounded very interesting, and although the cover isn't bright and colourful, it definitely caught my eye.  I quickly replied with a 'yes' and had the wait of a few days before I was able to download it.  Listening to Dark Eden took longer than what I expected, first with real life issues, and then that fact that it was so long, 13 hours and 20 minutes.
I love audiobooks and listen to them every chance I get, going to work, doing paperwork, cleaning, cooking, and going to sleep.  One thing that first caught my attention when I began Dark Eden were the accents by the narrators, I am English yet the voice of Oliver sounds so much more English than mine it was far too easy to fall under its spell.  Listening to audiobooks isn't for everyone, but for me to enjoy it I need to find the narrator interesting and captivating, even the best audiobook doesn't stand a chance if I find the narrator boring or droning, and Oliver and Jessica managed to do just that.
Dark Eden is told in multiple points of view from members of family and Johns group so we get to see how individuals feel about what is happening but also get alternating chapters from the narrators which helps to keep you focused if their voices didn't already draw you in..

I love how the author, Chris Beckett, has made this world and although there are a few 'earth' thing in it, a lot of the words and passages of time are 'family' words, waking is a day, they measure time by womb time and only oldies use years.  Lets take a closer look at family.  Family is the group name of all the people who live together on Eden, but there are also different communities, Spiketree, Redlantern, Batmouth, London, Brooklyn etc.  Each community does different things for example red lantern group harvest the red lantern trees getting sap from them and they all have their own waking times, and sleeping times.  Family is a happy place for people to live but soon it starts to break, John, no longer happy with being stuck where they are, unable to move or unable to explore starts to retaliate.  Speaking out in meetings when he shouldn't, moving stones from Circle , the place where the first people, Angela, Tommy, and the three companions landed on Eden, and where family look after the stones in the hopes that someone from earth will return and take them to earth.  This eventually leads to his banishment from Family.

The unrest from John begins slowly at first, with hints and thoughts from him, but even when he has it in his mind what he wants to do it takes nearly all the first part of the audiobook to do something, and then once its done things seem to progress quickly, he ends up with lots of people joining him and going out further to explore.  The first half of Dark Eden seemed repetitive, with the same history and story being told to us, but as soon as John leaves I found myself really enjoying Dark Eden and wanting to know what would happen to this small group that followed John, how could they survive in Eden without Family.

Listening to Dark Eden and seeing how they have learnt to survive, the clothes they wear and the methods they follow in order to survive, and even though the characters don't sound particular smart, you have to admire them for still being alive.  When I began learning about their history I had to stop and think about the book, the people of family all came from a small group of people, and the babies that are being born are from parents that are also related too, and while I thought this was definitely strange and a bit freaky, when you look at why they do it, to survive and keep family alive, it's kind of easy to shrug that bit of detail off, come on how else would people still be on Eden hundreds of years later when only a few people stayed.

The twists and turns in the plot ensured I never knew what was going to happen next and I found myself turning it on again for another half an hour after it had switched off to find out what happens, as my iPod had a knack for stopping at the most nerve wracking times.  The ending had me saying WTF out loud, which is a good thing that I was home and not on the bus. I was disappointed with the ending but once I found out another book was in the works, Gela's Ring, I felt slightly better about it.
Dark Eden is a captivating story and I will definitely be keeping my eye open to learn about what happened next.

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