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Review: Dark Eden

Dark Eden by Patrick Carman will be released in the U.S. on November 1, 2011 in hardcover, eBook and audio formats. It is currently available to pre-order online in all formats at Amazon and in hardcover and eBook formats at Barnes & Noble.

Published by Katherine Tegen Books, a division of HarperCollins, the print edition is 336 pages.

Goodreads description:

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.

***

Just how far would you go to cure yourself of your darkest fears? What price would you be willing to pay?

Fort Eden promises a cure for even the most incurable of phobias. A cure that will take you to the darkest depths of your fear, making you confront what terrorizes you the most.

But in the end, if you make it through and the cure doesn’t kill you, you will be able to live a normal life. Free of the crippling dread that once left you paralyzed.

But at what cost? How much of yourself would you be willing to give up to be free? And would it still be worth it if you knew just what dark purposes were achieved in order for you to be cured?

If living free of your worst nightmares is worth any price, then welcome to Fort Eden….

***

Dark Eden is a gripping story that will draw readers into the mystery of Fort Eden and the seven teens who are sent there to confront and overcome their fears.

As each piece of the puzzle is slowly revealed about this remote facility that promises a cure to what seem to be incurable phobias, new questions arise, leaving readers to guess as to just who Rainsford is and how the supposed cures really work.

When Will Besting and the six other patients – Ben, Kate, Alex, Connor, Marisa and Avery – first arrive at Fort Eden, Will releases he just can’t go through with it. So, as the others head to the Fort, Will takes off, figuring he can hide out until the week is over.

While he does have provisions that can sustain him for the week, what he fails to realize is that the nights are extremely cold. So when he gets the opportunity to sneak into the bunker that is adjacent to the facility, he takes a chance.

And what he discovers in the basement of the bunker is both fascinating and chilling – a bomb shelter with monitors that allow him to watch the other patients as they receive their cures. So, as one by one each of the patients undergoes the process that supposedly cures them, Will watches unnoticed. Hidden away in the depths of the bunker, he is a voyeur to all that is happening.

The more he sees, the more he begins to question just what is going on. And in his attempt to find out the secret behind the cures and what Fort Eden really is, he may just become its next victim.

Author Patrick Carman has done something quite different by offering this story as both a complete novel and one that can be approached as a multimedia experience.

Exploring the word of Fort Eden through audio and video, as well as through the written word, can make each reader’s experience an individual one depending on just how much or how little of each of the different media they choose to incorporate into their reading.

While choosing to include some, or all, of these extras into the story does enhance the overall effect, it is not required to enjoy this book. Told entirely in the first person from Will Besting’s perspective, it’s as if readers are experiencing the horrors of Fort Eden right along with Will.

Dark Eden is a fast-paced and captivating story with a twist at the end that readers just might not see coming.

Reviewer gives this book

On a personal note:

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I received a copy of Dark Eden for review. I hadn’t heard about it until it arrived in my mailbox, but from the description (especially that last line), the tagline “Fear is the Cure,” and the cover, it sounded really cool. Definitely something I might enjoy.

I was a little bit wary after I took a peek inside and saw the chapters were named after the different characters in the story. I was so sure that this would be told by each of the seven characters and I thought that having this story told from all those perspectives might be just a bit too much.

But when I finally picked it up and got past the first chapter I was ecstatic to discover that the entire story was told from Will Besting’s point of view.

I got off to a little bit of a slow start with this book, as I found myself puzzling over just what was going on during the first few pages. I spent way too much time trying to figure things out, rather than reading on and getting absorbed in the story. Which I did. Very shortly thereafter.

And once I did, I was completely taken in. By Will. By everything that was happening at Fort Eden. I wanted to know just what each character’s fears were, what Fort Eden was doing to them and whether everything would be okay in the end. I just had this bad feeling that things would end on a dark note.

In addition to this being a thriller, there was a mystery, which I immediately set out to try and unravel. And while I was able to figure out most of the story’s secrets and the character’s motives, I did end up missing the biggest one of them all.

Though I had a few suspicions, I didn’t discover everything there was to know and didn’t quite get what I did piece together right. When everything was revealed at the story’s end, I found myself saying, “Huh” and “Didn’t see that coming….”

Will Besting was the most interesting – and surprising – of the seven patients at Fort Eden and I liked having the whole story told from his perspective. I loved how he was practically a ghost at Fort Eden for the majority of his stay, wandering alone, in secret and afraid, but I wish he could have explored some more. I would have loved to get a longer look at Fort Eden.

I did download the App for my iPhone and checked out the free episode Arrival and watched some of the videos and listened to some of the audio. Which really did enhance the experience of this book. But I did all that after my read, rather than combining both and making this a truly interactive experience.

The videos and audio added a level of creepiness to the Dark Eden experience, but I would have liked to have the author paint more of a picture through his words and through Will’s observations in the book itself.

I absolutely loved the bunker, which reminded me so much of the one in Lost with those monitors. But my favorite part of Fort Eden had to be the staircase that spiraled down into the endless dark. The one that Rainsford used to come and go.

I also loved how the numbers and colors had meaning – which I won’t say anything more about because they are definitely spoiler-y.

But what I loved the most – and it probably has something to do with my age and younger readers won’t find as interesting – were the observations and wrap-up at the end.

I had wondered about a lot of what was talked about and revealed in that last section. And I liked that the author made his reasons for including certain things a part of the story rather than simply explaining things in an afterword.

As soon as Will and the other six were headed to Fort Eden I was hooked and was not able to put this down until all my questions were answered. And Will Besting made me smile, right up to – and especially because of – the last line.

This was such an enjoyable and easy read, with a mystery to solve, a few eerie and chilling moments, especially as pertains to Rainsford, and a pretty huge twist at the end. And while this was not a heartbreaking story, there was just something so sad about how it all ended.

 ***

For other ways to experience Dark Eden, check out my post, HERE.

Book trailer for Dark Eden:

This review is based on an ARC I received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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