Title/Author: Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa
Publisher: Atria Books
Synopsis: Rowan is a Second Child in a world where population control measures make her an outlaw, marked for death. She can never go to school, make friends, or get the eye implants that will mark her as a true member of Eden. Her kaleidoscope eyes will give her away to the ruthless Center government.
Outside of Eden, Earth is poisoned and dead. All animals and most plants have been destroyed by a man-made catastrophe. Long ago, the brilliant scientist Aaron al Baz saved a pocket of civilization by designing the EcoPanopticon, a massive computer program that hijacked all global technology and put it to use preserving the last vestiges of mankind. Humans will wait for thousands of years in Eden until the EcoPan heals the world.
As an illegal Second Child, Rowan has been hidden away in her family’s compound for sixteen years. Now, restless and desperate to see the world, she recklessly escapes for what she swears will be only one night of adventure. Though she finds an exotic world, and even a friend, the night leads to tragedy. Soon Rowan becomes a renegade on the run – unleashing a chain of events that could change the world of Eden forever.
**A huge thank you to Atria Books for sending me a review copy of this book! This in no way affects my thoughts, feelings, or opinions.**
Personally, I think that the biggest potential hindrance to a dystopian novel is that as the reader, you have to buy into it.
While logically speaking, I couldn’t quite get behind the concept of the future presented in Children of Eden, as I read further into the story, I warmed up to it and ending up loving the concept on a pure enjoyment level. There was intrigue within the world Graceffa created (i.e. a corrupt government–because this is a dystopian novel, after all), and I found that the world ended up being one of the most interesting parts of the novel.
Although I didn’t find everything in this future world entirely plausible, there were a ton of unique aspects that were super interesting to the reader. For instance, there were no animals, no nature, or anything living except for a few algae. There was no dirt on the ground and no trees in the sky: everything was artificial. That in and of itself was compelling enough to keep me reading.
I have no idea how much of this story was written by Joey Graceffa and how much was written by a ghost writer (although props to him for owning up to the fact that he had help on the inside cover page), but the writing–although nothing ground breaking–was entertaining and intriguing enough to keep me reading and allow me to really enjoy the story.
As for the overarching storyline – I’m just going to come right out and say it: It’s 100% your typical corruptted-government dystopian novel. It wasn’t exactly a new plot, either: second-child who’s never been outside of her own house or the company of her own family decides to venture out, and–can you guess what happens next?–said girl falls in love with the first two people she meets who aren’t her family. Gasp! How shocking!
But all joking about the love triangle trope aside, I did enjoy the fact that it wasn’t your average run-of-the-mill love triangle: The main character, being bi, had the hots for a girl and a dude, which was really refreshing. I loved how the fact that she was bi wasn’t ever treated as odd or abnormal, and it was accepted without a blink of the eye by the two love interests within the story.
One big thing that I found slightly problematic, especially after the total acceptance of our bi main character, was the existence of people called “bestials”–pretty much transgender people, but instead of being born in the wrong gender’s body, they were born in the wrong animal’s. I’m not sure if it was intended to be interpreted this way or not, but it seemed to me like a weird connection/relation to transgender people.
It could just be me, but the idea that transgender people–actual people with real feelings and real discrimination against them–are being compared to this lucrative, and frankly a bit offensive, idea is just… ugh. Of course, it is totally valid of you to say you found this representation really cool; I personally just found it all a bit degrading. I definitely don’t believe Joey Graceffa would have consciously chosen to intentionally target transgender people, but it was something that, intentional or not, left me feeling a little squirmy.
All problems aside, however, I really did enjoy this novel. It was an easy, quick read that was just a lot of fun. There wasn’t too much angst within the love triangle, and the sense of action, discovery, intrigue, and adventure throughout was wholly enthralling. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series when it’s released. 🙂
A solid 3.5/5 stars.