Wednesday, 11 September 2013

DARK EDEN - A Walk On The Dark Side

Time to be honest, this review is delayed because this book was my very first experience of audiobooks (I know, I'm so 19th Century). As a result, I needed to try out another audiobook to make sure that the problems I had with DARK EDEN were down to the book itself and not to the experience of audiobooks. I've listened to another one and enjoyed it, so everything that follows is purely down to the book.

Firstly, the book is technically well-produced, with narrators who voice it clearly and flawlessly. There's not a lot in the way of fancy touches, just the story being told, but that's fine. I like things simple.

DARK EDEN is the tale of a group of humans descended from just two, living in a small forest of light and warmth-giving trees on the surface of a planet that is swathed in darkness and ice. Interbreeding has given them birth defects and they have forgotten most of the science and most of the language that their forebears possessed. A young man rises up to challenge the hidebound ways of this 'family' and determines to leave and go in search of a 'promised land'.

Biblical allusions are rife in the book, as you would expect from the title, and there isn't anything here that is going to surprise anyone.

My main problem with this book lies in the use of language. Since language has deteriorated over the generations, the characters can no longer express themselves in anything but very simple terms. When distraught, a character says that they are 'sad, sad'. This is perfectly plausible and fits the scenario, but since the book is narrated in the first person (by one male and one female narrator), the language becomes repetitive and simplistic and that grates after a while. It makes what the characters are feeling seem shallow and unimportant.

It feels like a YA book, and yet it takes in very adult themes such as incest, murder, masturbation and rape, very matter-of-factly.

What is remarkable about DARK EDEN is the world-building. From the giant trees bringing heat to the surface to the batwings, leapords and woolybacks, the world of Eden is brought to life evocatively. You can certainly imagine it in your mind's eye in all its detail. It is a compelling background to a less than compelling story.

Ultimately, the linguistic style of the book proved to be too frustrating for me, but one thing is for sure, it won't be my last audiobook.