Sunday, October 23, 2011

Review: Dark Eden by Patrick Carman

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.

Seven teenagers, all with irrational fears, are chosen by their therapist - Dr. Stevens - to take part in an experiment to help them overcome the fears. The chosen seven are taken to Fort Eden - located in a remote area - where they are told they will be cured in a week.

The story is narrated by Will, who, in the opening scene, is at Dr. Stevens’s office, having a conversation with her about the new treatment. Will acquires the files of the other six participants while Dr. Stevens leaves the room to answer a phone call. The mystery of the other six and their fears, the remote site and the treatment slowly unwinds after this, and Will gives the reader bits of information from the files and from what he observers.

Dark Eden had a strong start, so much so that I had very high expectations for the ending - which, I admit, was not very strong at all.

The enigmatic Rainsford, the rooms that each participant disappears into, the creepy caretaker, the mystery of the fears, all come together to produce a page-turning and chill-inducing read. The characters, all described in detail by Will, came alive and I found myself rooting for them - and confused as to whether I wanted them to be cured or not.

I was very thrown in the end, it was not what I was expecting. I’m trying not to spoil it, but either I missed something huge throughout the story or the ending really did come out of the blue. It seemed quite convenient to me, and while it explained things I felt as though it was a quick and inferior explanation. I think many readers will enjoy this book, but, I’m not sure many will find the ending satisfactory.

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