Five hundred people live in in single community in an enclosed valley on the sunless planet Eden where, over a century ago, their two ancestors were marooned.
Calling themselves Family, they still cling to the hope that one day someone will come and bring them back to Earth, where light and heat does not come from trees, but from a bright star in the sky.
John Redlantern defies Family’s most sacred traditions and leads a small group of followers out of the valley and across mountains that are not only covered in snow and ice, but are completely dark, in search of wider lands. It had to happen but it comes at a terrible price, for it brings bloodshed and division into the world.
This is a first for me – I have never reviewed an audiobook before, I have listened to a some over the past few years but generally prefer reading with my eyes rather than my ears.
Anyway – on to my review of Dark Eden by Chris Beckett. To start off I will just say that although Teen Librarian is primarily a site aimed at librarians and people that work with teens in libraries Dark Eden is not a book for younger readers, I would say the more mature year 10s and up that have a liking for science fiction will enjoy it.
The production values of the audiobook are fantastic the narrators Oliver Hemborough and Jessica Martin give a brilliant performance of the male and female characters. At over 13 hours it demands a lot of listening – I found out that I could not do anything too demanding while listening as I tried listening as if your mind wanders you can lose which viewpoints are being narrated or get so engrossed in the story that everything else fades away. when I was cataloguing books in my library but found that I either stopped typing the records into the catalogue or in a couple of instances started typing what I was hearing, so I listened to the story on my way to and from work as well as late at night when I was supposed to be sleeping – as I type this I realise why I have had a number of disturbing dreams lately.
Dark Eden is a dark (ha ha) tale about humanity, survival and hope – any story that has a population of characters descended from a tiny group of progenitors can be a bit squicky if you think about it too much and there is violence, sex and death, it makes for compelling listening. Hearing the narration of taboo subjects makes for uncomfortable listening but it all added to the story of John Redlantern.
Like many of the best science fiction stories, Dark Eden focuses on the characters, their interaction and development rather than the science-y side of things.
Dark Eden is stunning and, if you have already read or listened to the story, the news that there is a sequel coming up should make me very happy!
It was a deserved winner of the Arthur c Clarke Award!