Monday, 7 October 2013

Review: After Eden

After Eden

Publication Date: November 7th, 2013
~A copy was provided by Bloomsbury Childrens UK, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.~

Eden Anfield loves puzzles, so when mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school she's hooked. On the face of it, he's a typical American teenager. So why doesn't he recognise pizza? And how come he hasn't heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden the most, however, is the interest he's taking in her.

As Eden starts to fall in love with Ryan, she begins to unravel his secret. Her breakthrough comes one rainy afternoon when she stumbles across a book in Ryan's bedroom - a biography of her best friend - written over fifty years in the future. Confronting Ryan, she discovers that he is there with one unbelievably important purpose ... and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success


When Ryan Westland comes into Eden Anfields' life, she finds him strange. He doesn't recognise popular food, or important icons of history or anything a modern twenty-first century American guy should already know.
Unless he lives in a cult.

Or a religious sector that limits his information.

Though he drives.
Both she considers, and are viable, as his sisters just as weird as him, until she returns his jacket one afternoon and accidentally takes one of his books home with hers and finds one that catches her eye with an author whose name she knows.

Her best friends.

After Eden's set in Cornwall, which I've never actually been (shocker), it's a pretty popular holiday destination here, so I went in with no expectations.

I was still disappointed.

You can interpret a lot from the blurb, so you know exactly what it's about, and though it doesn't bother me too much to know before reading, I do like a vagueness of a book before diving in, where it keeps you on your toes and guessing whether it's about vampires, or zombies or ghosts...and I think After Eden needed that to keep you interested. Since you know before you even start it that it's centred towards Sci-Fi, and Time Travel, and once you start, you'll find it's not original, that it doesn't have a twist on its genre, especially with this year's preceders that were a lot stronger. I wouldn't call it what it is, it seemed more of a contemporary with bits of Sci-Fi sewn in.
I hate to say this, because I was really interested in this one, but there was little plot. It had potential, but ultimately fell short. It was too easy, too quick, the whole reveal was a ton of info dump while also being vague and left you to accept it. Where time travel should have been the focus, it wasn't. You do get answers, how, where, when, why, but there wasn't much of an explanation that would take it from far-fetched to believable, whereas, let's say All Our Yesterdays did.

I couldn't get into the writing at all, it was stop and start, kind of like the characters interacting with each other. It didn't flow that good and if I'm honest, it felt a little robotic and too structured. A little detached, and I couldn't connect.
Talking about the characters...

Eden, to put it nicely, was boring. A little methodical. There was no personality or spark or voice, and she didn't sound 16 at all. At one point, she talks about obligations of where she is. Now, have you heard a 16 year old actually say the word obligations when talking about plans or ties? I don't know about you, but, being a sixteen year old (I won't say British, since I'm Welsh.) just four years ago, nobody acted or talked the way she did. It's not about education, or knowing the words, because I did, but it's about habitat and where you live and fitting in.
Now, with previous books that I've said that didn't sound like they should have but it worked because of the experiences life threw at them too young? Or ones that sounded older, but worked? This isn't an example. Eden does have a story, and yeah, it's a sad one, but she didn't sound sad, at all.  The older voice didn't come off well, and just perceived Eden thinking she was better than the others and a little snobby, it doesn't help that she never really voluntarily interacted with them, either. Also, it might have been a little less weird if she actually had obligations. She lived with an aunt she didn't necessarily like and with friends she wasn't that bothered about.

The romance situation. We have the typical  best-friend-is-a-guy-and-is-secretly-in-love-with-her-but-she-too-dumb-to-notice, or let's call it YA ground hog day. Then there's the almost insta-love, that doesn't turn out to be insta-love, that kind of tortures you the whole book, with no chemistry whatsoever, and eventually when they did were so over it, it kind of just faded out.
Let's talks about the plot, or therefore lack of one, everything seems a little quick and too coincidental, and then it seemed most of it had gotten forgotten throughout, with just little pieces to keep it together. There were also a lot of filler chapters that really provided nothing and were quite useless. I won't spoil it, since I am trying to post this spoiler free to an extent of what you already know, but it wasn't original, as I said. I've read a few this year that were a lot stronger than After Eden, and when the characters aren't the strongest part of a book, then the plot has to be- or it falls apart. I wouldn't say After Eden fell apart because it  was there, the potential, if the story wasn't focused on the will-they- wont-they between the two main characters. So there was nothing that held me captive. the characters weren't strong. That twist wasn't even a twist, you could see it coming, it wasn't a surprise, it wasn't even not predictable, and that ending...

Ugh, I really dreaded writing this review, because I get so frustrated and I hate writing reviews like this, especially when it's one that you were looking forward to, that sounded right up your alley, but didn't work at all.
After Eden is a fast read with a fast pace and an interesting prose but it lacked plot, character depth, a voice and ultimately, something that was distinctive between its competitors.

Rating: 2.5/5