I received this book for free from IFB Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
My Initial Reaction…
Whoa! What just happened? This is one of the hardest book reviews that I’ve written in quite a while because I have such mixed feeling about Garden of Eden. I really enjoyed the book and the characters appealed to me. Garden of Eden was weird – in a good way – and the mysteries were so fantastic, but also so unsolvable and unresolved that I closed the book feeling mystified and definitely not ready for it to end.
I’d call this a one woman show. There are several secondary characters, but we only get to know them from Eden’s point of view. And since she’s terribly confused and just about everyone she knows is a giant mystery, I don’t feel like I REALLY know anyone but Eden. Which is fine – because I really like Eden. She’s stubborn – sometimes to her own detriment – and she does not like to be told what to do. I came to realize about half way through Garden of Eden that anytime someone told Eden not to do something, I could pretty much count on her to do just that. Eden really grows over the course of the book, too. The day the Catchers came and took away her siblings landed her in a tower, where she spent years locked away with Will (her only companion for much of the book). Only a truly strong character could survive that and still manage to have hope and a vivacity for life – all which Eden has. There’s some mystery going on that she’s right at the center of, but she doesn’t know and so I’m just as clueless as to what it is. Hopefully book two will let us know.
Like I said, the secondary characters are all a giant mystery for me. Will, who she spends years alone with, seems like a good friend, but we don’t really know who he is. He’s seems very protective of Eden and I’m inclined to like him, but there’s some serious questions still out there about him. And then there’s Tom. We don’t meet him until part two, and right away I’m inclined to think I can’t trust him – but then he’s so nice to Eden and seems to become a friend, there’s even some chemistry there – so yes, I’m still not so sure about him. I’m also really curious about Liddon – he’s this semi-insane guy that Eden meets on the Island and befriends. Half the things he says don’t make a lot of sense, but he’s definitely a good person… I think. There’s more to him than we’re seeing though and I have some guesses, but so far no hypothesis have been confirmed or denied. The only people I’m really sure about are two friends Eden makes on the Island – Adriane and Dana. There’s nothing suspicious about them and they seem to be good friends that Eden can rely on and will probably get into lots of trouble with in upcoming books. Overall, the characters are fascinating and well-written, but frustratingly shrouded in mystery.
Garden of Eden is a marvelously fascinating dystopian novel. We’re introduced to Eden when she’s been locked away in the attic of a mansion with Will for years – by her parents – for her protection. The Catchers – who we’ve only begun to understand by the end of Garden of Eden - seem to have taken over and, for some mysterious reason, they are capturing children under the age of eighteen. We don’t know why or what their doing with these children, but we know that Eden’s parents are so afraid for her that they’ve locked her away for years. As Garden of Eden progresses, Eden and Will are captured by the Catchers and find themselves on an island – where they and a bunch of other children are being held captive, while be trained in things like archery and combat. Here Eden is just as much prisoner as she was in her little tower – the cage is just bigger – and the questions and confusion are that much more pronounced.
There are so many mysterious elements in Garden of Eden, ranging from a variety of characters that you don’t know what to do with to weird magical elements and the underlying question of who exactly Eden is all converge to make this a bit frustrating for me. I love a good mystery, but there was almost too much for me. It’s difficult to keep track of all the elements and it almost feels like a mystery that you might as well not try solving, because you have no hope. What made it most frustrating was that when the book ended, I was left without any answers. Instead, within just a few chapters before the end another big mystery had been introduced. It wasn’t a cliff hanger per-say but there’s definitely a lot to be resolved.
Garden of Eden was well-written and was filled with really great characters and elements. I wanted a bit more resolution, but I guess I’ll just have to wait for the sequel to get the answers I’m dying for!
I spotted Adriane’s white hair, glowing in the bright morning sun on the opposite side of the field. Giving Tom a quick good-bye, I tried to run to catch up to her but stumbled on my throbbing leg. Did I look like I’d spent a night in the forest? Probably. I was mud-streaked and filthy.
“Hi,” I gasped, finally catching up to Adriane. She ignored me dutifully, aiming an arrow and letting it fly, hitting the target with a low thwacking sound. She pulled another arrow from her quiver, aimed it, and shot it. I held my bow in one hand and stood next to her. She stiffened, the muscles under her tank top bunching, but managed to ignore me.
“Okay,” I said, hands on my hips, and my irritation reaching its climax. “I don’t know what I did, but I would really like for you to tell me, because honestly, you are being an awful teacher.”
She turned and glared at me, and I found myself suddenly, fiercely jealous of her. I envied her ability to shoot her arrows, fight any fight, win at everything she tried. Her dusty blue eyes burnt like fire into mine. They were hard, and cold against her alabaster skin. We were the same height – and, oddly enough, if it wasn’t for our opposite hair colors, we would look a lot alike. Her features were sharper, her back a little straighter, but our builds and eyes were almost exactly the same.
And then she smiled, cruel and mirthless, the kind of smile that was a thousand times worse than any glare.
“You want to know why I hate you? Why we all do? You had something before you were brought here. I don’t care what it was, it was something,” she growled. “I had a good life before all of this, or so I’m told. But I couldn’t fight them when they came for me. I was only three. And you’re here, aren’t you? You could have fought the Catchers, run away, something - but I’d say you didn’t fight for your freedom at all.”
She glowered at me, then turned and crouched to fill her quiver. I crossed in front of her and bent to her level, forcing her to see me.
“Teach me, then. Teach me how to fight for it,” I said firmly, looking her in the eyes.
~page 106-107 in eBook