16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A good idea but unconvincingly developed,
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This review is from: Dark Eden (Paperback)
I had high hopes for this book after a glowing review in the Grauniad Review section one Saturday, but unfortunately it didn't deliver what I was hoping for. The tale of the descendants of a couple stranded on an alien, starless planet, the concept is good - a world where there is no sunlight and plants and animals have (somehow) evolved to produce their own. Thrown into this a couple of hundred years earlier are Angela and Tommy, left stranded by the Three Companions who have returned to Earth for help, but never returned. The backstory is that Angela and one of the others were police chasing Tommy and his friends when both groups were stranded. Left alone Angela and Tommy are literally in an Adam and Eve scenario and the five hundred odd people on this "Dark Eden" have evolved from the incestuous breeding programme that ensued, giving rise to some interesting group morals and birth defects.
The author tries to generate a slang English typical of such a group of people a couple of hundred years after the original crash. A few of these are reasonably successful e.g. Landing Veekle and Any Visry, "slip" to sleep with someone, but a lot just don't work at all (Starry Swirl is - I think - The Milky Way and there is a lot of adjective repetition which seems to be a way of speaking they've evolved e.g. "It was bad, bad." This didn't work at all for me and made me yearn for Riddley Walker.
The story follows 15-year-old John Redlantern and his attempts to rebel against the status quo and strike out for pastures new in the dark world that he lives in. I did find the idea of the dark world quite appealing, but the tale is told in very basic language and feels (as other reviewers have mentioned) like a YA novel. I did also read that the novel was developed from a short story and it does have the feel of a good idea stretched way too far. There is no explanation of where the planet it or how it maintains an atmosphere (I was hoping for a twist where they're really all on the dark side of the moon but this doesn't happen). But the ideas flounder in the story and although chapters are told by various characters (mostly John and his on-off girlfriend Tina), their voices are not differentiated and if it wasn't for the name of each narrator at the start of each chapter it would take a while to know who is talking.
There are some good points - it's easy to read for a start and there is a twist of sorts - but overall it is not the deeply literate SF classic I had been led to expect. The ending does allow for more, but I would definitely not read any sequel as this was more than enough.