Title: Dark Eden
Author: Patrick Carman
Illustrator: Patrick Arrasmith
Genre: YA Thriller
Series: Dark Eden
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
ISBN-10: 0062009702 (Harper Teen)
ISBN-13: 978-0062009708 (Harper Teen)
Reviewed by: Macie
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.
Quick and Dirty: This thriller will leave you wondering what will happen to the characters next as they face their fears, and possibly your own.
Opening Sentence: Why are you hiding in this room all alone?
Excerpt: Episode One on the Dark Eden App
What’s initially interesting about this book is that it is also interactive. There is an app, or you can get the same experience at this website, that will provide sound, images, text, and video related to the book. Some people may not enjoy the multimedia version, but I did check it out after I read the book.
Our narrator, Will Besting, is sent to a weekend retreat by his doctor with six other teenagers as a last resort to help confront and control their individual phobias. He has prior knowledge of the other patients since he secretly copied their sessions off of Dr. Steven’s computer. Upon arriving at the camp, Will leaves the group and fends for himself. He finds a small, unused room in the basement filled with old computer monitors. With no other options except for returning to the group, he camps out in the room for the weekend. Soon he finds out that the monitors are connected to hidden cameras in the house where the other teens are.
Will seems like an average teen boy who doesn’t feel like he fits in anywhere. He is a loner, and the only person he feels close to is his brother, Keith. While watching the monitors that turn on and off by themselves, Will gets to know the other teenagers. Their host, Rainsford, says that he has a way that will cure them all of their phobias. Will watches on as one by one each person is led into a room created especially for them as they relive their worst fears. Through the technology that Rainsford uses, Will is able to actually watch what each person sees in their head. Though he may not like the others, he feels closer to them as he experiences their fears. I liked how Patrick Carman used a range of characters, all with distinct phobias, to show how fear does not discriminate.
The other teens are Alex, Ben, and Connor, who are male, and Avery, Kate, and Marisa, who are female. Of course, Will does not feel comfortable with any of them, except Marisa, who is quiet and nice. For the first time in a while, Will has felt somewhat close to someone when he is with Marisa. He sneaks out of the room late at night to talk with her about what is going on. Both of them are reserved about taking part in Rainsford’s cure as the other teens seem to have odd side effects afterwards. Another teen named Davis comes by the fort, and assures them that he was cured a while back by Rainsford, which adds more suspense as to what is really going on.
As the book continues, we start to wonder what is with Rainsford’s “cures” and why no effort has been made to find out where Will is. They are in the middle of nowhere, and one of their patients are missing. We do get answers at the very end that made me interested to know what will happen next. Also, there is a definite shocker ending! Since it was just barely introduced, I expect Carman to go into more depth with the character of Rainford in the next installment.
This is not meant to be a super scary or psychologically chilling novel. It explores fear and mystery, and how that can affect a person, especially a teenager. The twister ending does require discussion, but that will have to wait for the next book!
I walked to the back of the basement, along the edge of the shelves that held the cans of food, and found one more door. This door was not like the others, which were all made of heavy timber and had iron hinges. The door I stood in front of was made of metal, like a freezer, and on the front a word stenciled with red paint.
I don’t fear enclosed spaces; in fact, I like them quite a bit more than wide-open cafeterias or ball fields. But the words had a ring of finality. It was a place people went if the word was coming to an end.
There was a pin on a chain holding a freezer handle in place. The pin emitted a sharp sound of metal as I removed it and let it hang from the chain like a body swinging from a noose. The handle was cold in my hand, but it pulled easily enough, and the door to bomb shelter was open.
A curb ran along the bottom edge, and I stepped over it, peering into a strange and secret place. Before I knew it I was inside, discovering a knob that clicked once and then turned, bringing up the light.
I had come to the farthest corner of where I could go; and, turning around, I pulled the door in close behind me, just shy of locking myself in.
The Dark Eden Series:
1. Dark Eden
FTC Advisory: Harper Teen provided me a copy of Dark Eden. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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