Dark Eden by Patrick Carman was a goodie I received from Net Galley. Most of the books I read are written by women, so I was pretty excited to land a work with a male protagonist which was also written by a man. Even so, I’d put off reading it for awhile in order to make sure I timed the review just right. Well, the time finally arrived. Before the review, the blurb from Mr. Carman’s website:
Fifteen-year-old Will Besting is sent by his doctor to Fort Eden, an institution meant to help patients suffering from crippling phobias. Once there, Will and six other teenagers take turns in mysterious fear chambers and confront their worst nightmares—with the help of the group facilitator, Rainsford, an enigmatic guide. When the patients emerge from the chamber, they feel emboldened by the previous night’s experiences. But each person soon discovers strange, unexplained aches and pains. . . . What is really happening to the seven teens trapped in this dark Eden?
Patrick Carman’s Dark Eden is a provocative exploration of fear, betrayal, memory, and— ultimately—immortality.
Dark Eden started off quite slow. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. After reading the blurb, I thought the book would be a YA paranormal, but the further I progressed, the more it just seemed like a book about a boy with a phobia. In fact, I wasn’t even sure what his phobia was at first, only that he was elusive… and a bit of a stalker.
I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed the book was so far off from what I’d expected. I’m not saying a book about kids with mental disorders couldn’t be interesting. After all, I quite enjoyed Ultraviolet (see review here). It was more on the lines, I had no idea what the ultimate purpose of the story was until well into the book. What were the stakes? Simply spying on kids with phobias wasn’t enough for me.
Eventually, I did discover what was at stake: be cured of the phobias using some weird, undisclosed method or continue to live with the fear. Even with the stakes laid out, they weren’t big enough to make this work stellar. Interestingly enough, the bread crumbs left as I followed the story kept me entertained and eager for the big reveal. Unfortunately, it never came.
I hit the end of the book, well what seemed like the end, and was sorely disappointed in the conclusion. The ending was followed by several short sections which explained what was really going on in Dark Eden, and this is where I hit the paranormal aspect of the book. The oh by the way, this is what happened and why wrapped up everything in a nice package, but the presentation was flat and lacking in appeal.
I hate to be overly critical, but Dark Eden by Patrick Carman was mediocre, which is a shame, because it had the potential to be so much more.