“Children of Eden” by Joey Graceffa
Atria/Keywords Press, 278 pages, $18,99, Oct. 2016, Goodreads
Well, I’m not sure where to start with this one. Joey Graceffa’s concept of a post-apocalyptic Earth community called Eden where families are only allowed one child seemed very unique and original. Instead what I read was long, arduous, repetitive, and flat.
Rowan is a second child in a world where being a second child is against the law. Hoping to give her a place in this world Rowan’s mom concocts a plan that at the last minute goes awry. The world in which Rowan lives is Eden, where the only other organic living things besides humans are mosses and algae. Eden regulates everything else including its citizens with permanent contact lenses that leave eyes a solid color. This is what gives Rowan away: her hazel eyes. So, how does a second child survive in a land where she’s not meant to exist? If it were up to Eden, she wouldn’t.
I admit when I first read the synopsis of this book I was very interested and a little excited about the narrative. Unfortunately, within the first five chapters that quickly dissipated.
The first strike against this book was it’s pacing. The synopsis makes it sound like the incident that gets Rowan discovered happens rather quickly within the text. It doesn’t. It takes the first several chapters for the reader to finally come to the conflict of the novel, and I don’t know about other readers but for me it left me bored.
The second strike against this book is the characters. Rowan is fast. Rowan is strong. Rowan is smart. Rowan is without flaw. Rowan is not a realistic main character. She’s flat and she didn’t seem to change throughout the novel, which makes me doubtful that we will see any major character growth in the subsequent sequels.
The third and last strike against this book is that there is too much telling and not enough telling. I feel as if I was not trusted as a reader to understand what was happening in this novel. Sure, the result is a clear and precise narrative, but even without all the telling of action and setting and character I could have painted my own picture with the same results.
Unfortunately, the only thing that’s going for this novel is the main character’s journey to discover her sexuality. Because Rowan has been locked up in a house for all of her life, she’s not sure if she like boys or girls. I love this! I love that there is this confused ambiguity of sexuality, but for me, it’s not enough to make me want to read the rest of the series when it’s released.
I really wanted to like this book, but it was very hard to when the pacing was too slow, the main character too flat, and the reader wasn’t trusted throughout the narrative.
Joey Graceffa can be found on Twitter at @joeyGraceffa, on Instagram at @joeygraceffa and on Goodreads.