Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dark Eden by Patrick Carman: Book Review

Title: Dark Eden
Author: Patrick Carman
Pages: 336
Published: November 1st, 2011 by HarperCollins
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?
My Thoughts:

Buried in secrecy and fear, DARK EDEN by Patrick Carman is eerie and suspenseful, every scene built and dedicated to the emotions surrounding Fort Eden. As readers we can feel the fears that seep through each individual character, throwing up red, flashing warning signs in our peripherals that we do our best to ignore and so we can carry on through the murky depths of the base, looking for a cure to what haunts these petrified teens.
Fort Eden

The place sent a chill of dread down my spine from the moment I saw it. Low slung to the ground, made entirely of concrete slabs crawling with moss and vines. My first impression was of a massive casket left alone in the woods for years and years, overrun by a menacing forest of gloom.
My feelings concerning DARK EDEN are a little twisted in and of themselves. I agree with many of the reviews I've read --parts of them anyway--in that the book was pretty good. The characters, while not fully people I grew to love, I enjoyed them from a detached point of view. I wasn't sure how Mr. Carman was going to develop his characters because for most of the book, our narrator, Will Besting, isn't in the compound with them at all. The clever use of the televisions in the underground bunker proved to be even more of a development then I could have asked for. It's quite amazing at what you can learn from a person when they think no one is watching them. Still, I never felt any real connection to the characters, including Will, until after their "cure". This worked for the book, I think because seeing those fears was like an instant way I could relate to that person. Not that I have experienced anything they had, but it made them more human and gave them "more" as a character.

The compound, Fort Eden, became its own character. With the many doors and the paint and the whispering voices it was the secret that we are surrounded by but don't have a clue what it means. It's frightening and the heightened sense of awareness we suddenly get whenever Will ventures into Fort Eden cannot be denied.'s freakishly creepy.
I held one of the rails and started walking, but stopped short at the sound of a distant whispering voice radiating from the deep. It sounded like someone was searching down the long hallways of my mind, trying to find me but failing.
All of these factors made me really enjoy the book, but it was the ending that frustrated me. A ton of people loved the ending for its serious whiplash effect. I mean, we're reading along and all of the sudden, that ending hits us out of nowhere and BAM!! we are suddenly looking back trying to figure out if we missed something. Was there a sign of what was happening, a sign of what everything really was? Normally, I love a good surprise in a book and this was a whopper of a surprise. But, I it still frustrated me. I keep trying to pin down why, but I guess it's because I was expecting the book to be a contemporary, teen horror of sorts and that ending was a genre changer. But, after a couple conversations with Jenny I think it's mostly that the main characters in the book got a raw deal and I'm angry at a character I think deserves to die. I don't want to give anything away because the surprise is kind of fun, in a way, and I don't like spoiling anything.

So, for all those who've read it, here's my spoiler portion (highlight to read)
I'm upset that Will has to wait 60 years to kill Rainsford/Davis. I mean, what if he doesn't live that long? I know why he is waiting, but I guess I have anger issues. I want vengeance, NOW! o_o

Overall, I really liked the story. The writing was good and perfectly creepy. The characters were well done and the fears were excellently played. My only complaint is parts of the ending, but that is only a personal preference. I think that so many people will love what Mr. Carman has done. He's taken something that could have been similar and mundane and given it a very unexpected twist. Funny thing is going back and rereading it, knowing how the ending is, I like it a lot better than the first time. So, I give DARK EDEN a 3.5/5 and recommend it to those who enjoy YA Fiction with a little bit of creepy mixed in.


  1. I enjoy creepy mix in my YA thrillers but a genre changer at the end...I don't know.

  2. I really liked this one!! I always like when a book complely surprises me at the end!! I never saw THAT coming!! Number 2 is coming out next summer I believe!

  3. @Anachronist - It was a slap in the face, I tell ya that much. :D

    @Ashley - I had no idea there was going to be a book 2!! I thought it was a stand-alone. That actually makes me happy. I love me some revenge! *cue evil laughter here*

  4. Sounds like my kind of book! I had no idea it was part of a series. Hmm..wondering if I should pick this one up when the second book release comes closer. It's definitely on my tbr list!

  5. That ending definitely was a genre changer:) It was fun talking to you about this one, I definitely agree with some of your frustration, but I just learned that there is going to be a sequel (I had no idea) so maybe some things that bothered you will be remedied in that one! Should be an interesting read that's for sure:)

  6. Hm, sounds like the structure of this book is what really makes it. I can get on board with that. I'm a little wary of the ending though. I LOVE when you read a book and then you get to the end and it changes everything and you have to go back to the beginning and you see everything so differently now. But a genre changer? Erm, I'm not sure if I like that. Thanks for the warning!

  7. Okay, better on the second read than the first, a conversation starter, and a lot of emotions about the characters? Okay, you have me hooked. I really am moving this one up on the ol' wishlist!

  8. Okay, from the way you've described this one, it's reminding me a lot of Incarceron by Catherine Fisher , specially the part of Fort Eden being its own character. So yeah, I'm officially freaking out!

    And that happens to me a lot too, liking a book much better the second time around, and I've also experienced the reverse. I'll re-read a book and think, wth, why did I like this?


  9. @Rummanah - I know! I had no idea there was going to be a second book. I really thought it was a stand alone. If I were you, I would wait until the next book is closer to release. But, that's just me. :D

    @Jenny - I know! I'm very excited to see some of the stuff we talked about come to pass in the next book. I had no idea there was a second until Ashley told me. I hope it's good with some creeptastic within.

    @Small - I love books like that, too! This was like that, and not. Maybe if you go into it knowing there is going to be a genre change, you'll just be expecting it and won't be as frustrated. I don't know. I so wasn't expecting anything so it just back handed me.

    @Mel - I loved the fears of all the characters they were really fun to watch...which sounds really evil of me. I hope you like it more than me!

    @Missie - I've SO done that! Sometimes I think it's because I read the book before I've read some amazing ones and then I go back remembering I loved it and it's like HUH? What was wrong with me that day? It usually happens more often with YA books, for me. *giggles* Although, the really good ones just get better and better!


I always love comments, and I read every single one!

Also, this is now designated an award free zone. Although I love awards and I love everyone for thinking of me, I just don't have the time to honor them like they need to be honored. Thank you though for your consideration!

XOXO Jen the Bibliophile

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