Available November 1st
Received from publisher for review
Will Besting is all-too familiar with debilitating fear. He's lived with it for years, seeing a therapist at the request of his parents to help him cope. It's not helping. During one of his sessions, his doctor informs him she doesn't feel as though she can do much more for him than she already has.
As a last resort, she recommends Will go to a place called Fort Eden and give himself over to the very capable hands of a colleague of hers who boasts of having a cure for fears such as Will's. Will's told he'll be going with six other teenagers, all with crippling fears like his that are beyond her ability to treat.
Will has no desire to go through this so-called "cure", and upon arriving at Fort Eden decides to break away from the group and watch the happenings as an outsider, hidden away and unnoticed by the others. From what he observes, the cure seems to be working, only those who return from treatment have minor but unusual ailments not present before their miraculous recoveries. All he sees however can never prepare him for the dark truth hidden in Fort Eden's walls, a truth that may be worse than the fear itself.
Engrossing and deliciously unexpected, Dark Eden is a tale that slithers across our skin, a cool breath on the back of our necks that raises the fine hairs and has us frozen in place, held immobile by the paralyzing fear of turning around and facing what’s there. The story progresses slowly and rather quietly, increasing our paranoia with every page as our minds churn frantically to produce possibilities and explanations for Fort Eden, the “cure”, and the characters’ phobias themselves. Will’s self-imposed isolation from the other patients only increases our skittishness, leaving us cut off from the comfort of safety in numbers and all the more off balance as a result. We turn the pages as if drawn by magnetic force to do so, the tantalizing lure of learning about everyone involved without their knowledge while revealing nothing of ourselves both heady and powerful, and we enthusiastically follow the trail Mr. Carman has brilliantly blazed for us.
Though we spend all our time with Will, we don’t really ever learn that much about him, our relationship more one of a pair of observers studying, cataloging and piecing together the puzzle of Fort Eden and its current residents. The lack of a deep and memorable emotional connection is in this case one of the rare times such a thing is not a detriment to the overall story, instead we find ourselves so caught up in the almost overwhelming anxiety experienced as we learn of one character’s fear after another that we need absolutely nothing else to make this story stand out in our minds. We’re connected to the mysteries lurking within the intimidating walls of the Eden compound mind and body–as plugged into the book as Will is to his wall of monitors–with our bodies feeling phantom aches that mimic the strange symptoms of the cured individuals as proof of our involvement.
We spend the entire time we read wondering how things are going to play out, calling on every corner of our imaginations to conjure up any number of twists, but despite our best efforts, Mr. Carman still shocks us with his concluding revelations. Expertly played, he impresses us with his ability to weave a story full of clues that don’t go unnoticed but rather remain not fully understood until everything comes together, and we sit back at the end and bow our heads in a quick nod of deference acknowledging we’ve been bested. Dark Eden is a very quick read despite its slower pace, the phrase “just one more chapter” becoming a mantra repeated again and again until we reach the final page and immediately desire more from Mr. Carman.
THE DARK EDEN EXPERIENCE
For those of you who don't know, Dark Eden is taking a unique approach to engaging readers through the use of interactive media. It can be experienced in two ways. The series is enhanced by a downloadable app that enriches the elements of the traditional narrative through innovative story artifacts including still images, audio recordings, videos, scans, and text entries. For a complete explanation of how the app experience works, check out this video from author Patrick Carman. The Dark Eden app is available now on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and all Android enabled devices.
To get a taste of what's to come, download The Arrival, the first free episode, available through the Dark Eden mobile app in the Apple/iOS App Store and the Android Market.
I got a very fun and interesting package in the mail the other day with an extensive promotional kit for Dark Eden. In it was a "Fear is the Cure" t-shirt and 10 cd-roms that feature a special fear test, and I'm very excited to share the contents of the kit with all of you! I'm going to split the kit into 10 individual prize packs - one grand prize winner will receive the t-shirt and one of the fear tests, and then nine others will receive just the fear test itself. To enter, please leave a comment with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through midnight EST on Friday, November 4th after which time the winners will be chosen and announced on the blog. Good luck everyone!