Dark Eden

Chris Beckett
Dark Eden Cover

Simple, interesting, and uncomfortable (in a good way)


I've been waiting for Dark Eden to be released in the US since it was published in the UK.

The premise is intriguing: two people are left behind on a world with no sun. Five generations later their descendants number over five hundred. John Redlantern is 15 and the first person to ever publicly question not only the decisions of the family elders but also the assumptions upon which the family bases itself. He questions how long they should hold on to the hope of rescue, how long they should keep retreading the steps and arguments of their ancestors, and whether there really is no room for dissent. More and less than all of that is John making himself the hero of his own story in a place where stories are important.

My first thoughts when finishing the book were that I wished it was a different book. I wanted to cherry pick the things out of it that I liked and leave behind the things that made me uncomfortable. I wanted the story told in third person so that I could get lavishly adjective-laden descriptions of the landscape. I wanted an ending tied up in bows. I wanted the themes of incest, gender, and power to have empowering messages. But that isn't this book and being disappointed in it for not setting off my five-star-tinglies when it is not only skillful and intelligently executed but also walked the line of making me feel uncomfortable while falling to neither the side of glorifying the state of the society nor the other side of creating an unrealistic fix.

After digesting the book for a while, I think I can let it be exactly what it is. I can wipe my expectations off the windshield, look around, and be glad that I did.