Thrillers are a genre of books that I typically find myself glancing past, but every once in a while I like to dip back into the pool and see if anything has changed since last I tempted the genre fates. I think it’s more the structure and pacing that typical thrillers keep to that pulls me away from them. Short chapters that get in late, pull out early, and don’t spend a lot of time sticking around to figure out just exactly what’s going on. The fast pace seems to be of utmost importance for these stories, and consequently somewhere along the way, we lose a bit of what ultimately pulls me into any and every story that I love: the characters.
On the plus side, I’d never read anything by this author before, and to all appearances it looked like he’d been around for a while and might know what he was doing. So I was happy to give him a try.
EDEN is a stand-alone novel that plays off of the idea that mother nature has finally gotten tired of the damage humans are doing to her through climate change, and she decides to fight back in a most supernatural way. In an attempt to reverse what is happening to the planet, the powers of the world have cordoned off several large tracts of land termed, Virgin Zones, that are off limits to everyone. The boundaries around these zones are protected by surveillance and deadly force, but that doesn’t always deter those with the greatest sense of adventure and thrill.
Jenn and her father Dylan are two of that brand of people. With the help of a small team of friends, they’re planning on crossing into one of the more dangerous Virgin Zones and making their way across it’s expanse as quickly as possible. There are stories of others dying and unnatural events occurring within the zones, but that makes them want the experience all the more. And at least one of the two of them may also have an ulterior motive.
The guy definitely knows how to write this type of story. He sets the scene well and gets things moving without much ado. As I said, thriller pacing. Chapter headings are used to great effect, relaying some of the background to the Virgin Zones and the stories going around concerning what goes on within them. Overall, I’d say that the book is “character lite”. It’s more about the fast story, and throwing things at the reader left and right, as this team of adventurous athletes tries to accomplish something that no one else has yet to achieve than telling a story that connects with the reader on an emotional level.
Even though the chapter headings build up this sense of danger and foreboding about the Virgin Zones in general, there’s nothing solid about what this group of people are expecting to find. And because they’re all performing at the top of their game, they also try their best to avoid freaking themselves out by theorizing on why all of these odd things seem to happen. So, a lot of the tension gets built by everyone “feeling” like something evil is lurking around the corner, but there’s nothing explicit that they find along the way to suggest that there’s anything supernatural about what is going on.
A fast-paced eco thriller about the danger of a mother nature that bites back against those thinking she lacks any teeth.
And that bothered me a bit.
Also, there was a definite disconnect between the actions of the individual members of the group and what I kind of envision a team of long-term friends would be like. There was a decided lack of camaraderie among them all that kind of grated at me. So, inevitably, when they began to be picked off one by one, it didn’t impact me very much because it also didn’t seem to impact the POV characters. This could be attributed to the fact that there was so little actual characterization spread throughout the story. Which also led me to question why both Jenn and her father were given POV time as there wasn’t much to distinguish either of them individually.
Overall, the story has a pretty good basis, great build-up, and a climax that was exciting and worth reading. Exactly what I’ve come to expect from a good thriller. If you’re looking for a great beach read, or something to whet your appetite for a read that’s a little more horrific, this would a great place to start.
- Recommended Age: 18+ for language and violence
- Language: Strong, but fairly infrequent
- Violence: Lots of blood, violence, and gore
- Sex: Some brief risque dialogue and a few references