No, it's not any one of these... it has the makings of all three. Today's review covers a thrilling dystopian horror within a science fiction environment.
Take that, genre rules!
I'd like to introduce you to Eden, Dawn: The Chronicles of Paradise, by Archer Swift.
So what's it about?
The Earth's final days were sudden. Climate change, war, and the breakdown of society as a whole was all any of those chosen to board the Ark, a space vessel leading to a new chance for humanity, would remember. Thirty thousand people left on a pilgrimage to Eden, a new planet that could support human life. It was to be a new beginning for what was left of the human race.
Within 48 hours, however, a staggering number of those that made the journey were dead. Ten Earth years later, the number was down to under four hundred. Humanity was an endangered species. Eden was not the paradise they thought it would be, and every day since their arrival was a fight to survive. Their strongest weapon against Eden's perils was their strong sense of community, their willingness to work together.
But the strong unity of Eden's settlers is now breaking down, and extinction is sure to follow. This is because of them. They are picking off the colonists one by one, and nobody knows how or why. Nobody even knows who or what they are...
You can see why I added horror into the genre mix there, right?
But I have a confession. The truth is that horror is a very good description of the intensity and suspense that a reader is put through in the first third of the book... but then everything changes. I loved the horror aspect. The blend of fear, nervousness, and lack of knowledge about the enemy was quite gripping.
Normally, a change in mood that propelled me out of the realm of horror and into the realm of sci-fi thriller would feel jarring.
Here, though, it felt right.
Swift created a vivid world filled with complexity and loaded with intricate detail. This wasn't a fortuitous accident... a bestiary (written in a character's POV) can be found at the end of the book, and the in-depth descriptions of Eden's wildlife adds to the reader's enjoyment. Swift took time on the research, and it shows.
Further, I was entranced by the descriptions of them.
What did they look like? Well... I can't tell you that. See, I didn't know until midway through the ebook, and that added to the suspense and interest level. I refuse to take that from you. Suffice to say, they are very different from anything I've previously read about.
Eden, Dawn did a spectacular job of creating a society in ruin. It felt like a cautionary tale, warning us against narcissism and arrogance. It focused on empathy and community as the key factors toward a better future, yet came nowhere near feeling sappy.
In a word, awesome.
The only thing that kept me from landing headfirst into the center of the story and refusing to leave was some clunky sentence structure and a few grammar problems. I know this sounds nitpicky, but it was incredibly jarring... largely because this ebook was so finely crafted. Saying that somebody went passed a tree causes me to turn into a tooth gnashing grammar fiend.
Ok... maybe I am a bit nitpicky... but it still jarred me straight out of the story a few times.
As much as I may complain about grammar and word usage, Swift wrote with a strong and active voice. Eden, Dawn was believable and engrossing. If my biggest complaint has to do with a few tiny errors in grammar - and I do mean few - I think it's safe to say that Swift is an author worth reading.
If you like intense sci-fi thrillers, I highly recommend Eden, Dawn.
Eden, Dawn is available on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.