Dark Eden by Chris Beckett
Holy Michael’s names, this book! I was expecting some heart-warming philosophical novel when I picked it up, based off the reviews on the cover. The cover is gorgeous, by the way. It’s iridescent. What I found was an imaginative world, and the story of its beginning. This is the Adam and Eve story of another planet, Eden, where humans from Earth have settled and created Family. This is not a happy book. It’s also pretty hard science fiction, based on my normal palette of books. What I’m dying for after finishing Dark Eden is a book club discussion or lecture series – it’s that complex. There’s SO much to take apart within its pages. Some topics of discussion would be Religious Undertones, Storytelling, Inventions and Inventors, and Colonization, to name only a few. I have a theory about Eden’s origin story too, that I’ll admit I want to talk about with some others who’ve read the book! This was kind of a difficult read for me, though, probably because I don’t have much experience reading science fiction. I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed reading it, but rather I enjoyed thinking about it.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Wool by Hugh Howey: So I discovered after I’d finished this edition of Wool that the different sections within were published as separate novellas, or novels, or something. This edition, called Wool Omnibus, is the first in a four-part bigger series and I look forward to reading the next one. This is actually a book that I let my dad read before I did, and we both enjoyed it a lot. The plot is very immersive. The quote on the front says “You will live in this world,” and at first I thought it was a dumb way of phrasing things. The world in Wool is not a place that we would want to live. Compared to today’s society, Wool presents a collapsed version of our Earth, years in the future. The characters in this novel live in a government regulated, self sufficient silo where everything (including corpses) is recycled and even mentioning “outside” can earn you a death sentence. The entire time I was reading it, I kept viewing Wool as a combination of Les Miserables and The Hunger Games. A strange combo, but oh boy did Howey pull off his writing style. Boy can write. All that being said, I’m really glad I did not read each section by itself, because I would have been aching for the next part in the series immediately. Howey is very good at cliffhangers. The only thing I had problems with was the ending, and here’s where you should stop reading if you feel strongly about spoilers because there are a few mildly spoilery comments. The first thing that bugged me was that the Romeo and Juliet parallel that Howey set up in one of the books did not carry through to the end. I feel like it almost dropped out completely. When I first saw the mention of R&J, I was so excited, man! I was like, jumping out of my seat this is the greatest thing ever excited. But the parallels stopped abruptly and left me disappointed because they could have been GREAT! This book could have been a 5! The second thing that bugged me, along the same lines, was that the ending was so hopeful. This partially stems from my assumption that it would end tragically, like R&J or at least “West Side Story,” along with viewing the battle scenes as comparable to Les Mis and trying to figure out which characters were supposed to be whom in the R&J overlay. But none of the really main characters died, and I felt like that was not an accurate depiction of war. I keep thinking of something Scott Westerfeld said at LeakyCon. Paraphrasing him: Everyone is the protagonist in their own story, and in war, people die. People who have wives and children and parents, all of whom are marked by their family member’s death. That’s why it doesn’t seem fair to write a war novel where none of the main characters die, because everyone is the main character to someone. (did I do that well enough, did it make sense?) Anyway, I really enjoyed this book, but I felt it highly improbable that everyone important survived, for the most part.
Rating: 4/5 Stars