It may sound like a cheesy or cheap way to describe this book, but I truly have to say that it was a page-turning thriller which I couldn't put down. "Dark Eden" is twisted but only in a good way, giving the reader a psychological trip that won't be forgotten anytime soon. I don't rate books on Amazon with 5 stars frequently, but I think that this book deserves all 5 stars because of the excellent storytelling, character development, and technical writing present in this work.
STORY - Will Besting has a fear. Will doesn't have a normal little phobia, though, such as being scared of heights or creeped out by snakes. No, Will has an irrational, nightmarish fear that has caused him to need counseling for a very long time. The counseling doesn't seem to be doing much good, however. His doctor finally admits that she can't do anything else for him except send him off on a week-long retreat with six other patients that have equally frightening fears which she hasn't been able to cure either. Will doesn't want to go, but his parents overrule him and send him to a place they are confident will heal him. A place where the cure to fear is believed to be fear itself. A place where the teens may leave, never able to be cured again.
WRITING STYLE - The story is fantastic, but I will admit that it started out a bit slow, seeming like it was simply describing a field trip instead of a trip to a healing mental retreat. However, the story quickly picked up speed early on and never slowed down again.
With the exception of an intro and epilogue-like ending, the book is divided into six main chapters: one for each of the teens at the retreat with two of the boys squeezed into the same chapter. In each chapter, you will find out a little bit more about each of these teens and how they ended up at this mysterious place. Their uniquely irrational fears are developed very well as are their personalities. Meanwhile, you will also be finding more and more about Will who the story mostly revolves around. There is also development of the workers at the retreat while not revealing exactly whether they are really trying to help the teens or harm them.
As you get about halfway into the story, you will start to experience twists and turns galore, but they never get too radical or crazy. To me, they all added to a certain horror/shock factor that made this book so chilling. The ending was very solid and not a cliffhanger at all, but it also left room for a possible sequel, which I would personally snap up as soon as it became available.
Something incredibly unique about this book is that it can be accompanied by an app that can be purchased in the iPod/iPhone/iPad app store. While the app itself is free, you will have to shell out money to unlock all chapters of the app's story. It basically follows the same storyline while utilizing short audio, video, and literary clips instead of a full book form. It's simply an addition you could access if you enjoyed the story immensely; it can stand alone, accompany the book, or not be used at all.
OVERALL - While adults may still enjoy it, the writing, story, and character elements are obviously meant for teens. I personally loved everything about this book, though, and can classify it as one of the best books I've read in the past few years. It's enthralling, creepy, and exciting all at the same time, and I definitely recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys a psychological thriller, especially teens.
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About the reviewer
Hey there! My name is JJ, and I've developed a real love for reviewing in the past few years; Lunch.com is one of my recent challenges. It is my desire as a reviewer on Lunch to write helpful, easy-to-understand … more
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 nightmareswith 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 ultimatelyimmortality.