Friday, October 28, 2011

Review + Giveaway: Dark Eden

Patrick Carman
Young Adult
336 pages
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.

Rating: 4.5/5


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!


  1. Hopping through. Would you say this is a paranormal or dystopia? I can't quite tell from the synopsis. Sounds interesting although probably not for me.

    Are you going to post pics of your cruise?

  2. Sounds good and about blogger. It sure has made me pull my hair a few times and always cos of pics.

  3. Oh my gosh, I've been dying to read this one! Since I have an actual phobia of insects, I can definitely relate to what this book is about! (Although I don't think I'd ever agree to getting treated for it because I know that it must have something to do with actually SEEING bugs! LOL! x)

    Awesome review, Jenny! I'm really glad you liked it! :)

  4. I'm really excited for this one. Sounds great!
    Thanks for the giveaway too!

  5. great review and not an entry and I enjoyed the book too :)

  6. Sweet I have a freind sending me a fear test already but I would love to be entered to win the shirt. I really want to read this. Thanks for the giveaway!

  7. (not entering)

    What a fantastic review :) I loved the trailer too and I am not a big fan of book trailers on a whole.

  8. Oh wow this sounds really good...Im always up for a good creepy read as long as no demons pop out...tell me there's no freaky demons Jenny!!!!

  9. Alison - I would say it's more contemporary with a few twists. I don't want to say more or it will spoil:) I'm posting pics tomorrow! It's taken me a while to go through them all:)

    Blodeuedd - I really liked this one, it shocked me and that doesn't happen to often. And Blogger was being challenged and not letting me upload any pictures. Seems to be working now though:)

    Mimi - That's one of the fears in the book! Insects freak me out too:)

    Bwyatt - I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this book and it was just so much better than I expected:)

    Julie - Glad you liked it too!

    Laura - I kind of want to keep a fear test for myself and see what it's all about. You'll have to let me know if you take it!

    Felicia - I loved this trailer! I hadn't seen it before it was sent to me and I think it's probably one of my favorites:)

    Tina - No demons pop out, I promise! I'm not a fan of that either:)

  10. Woah. Now all I want to know is what's going on at Fort Eden? What's happening to all the people! Eeeeep!

  11. This one sounds awesome, Jenny! I'm always racking my brain to come up with great books for boys. This one fits the bill to a "T".

    I'll try my luck at the giveaway: rummanaha at hotmail dot com

  12. Blahahaha! When blurry eyes first glanced at 10 cd-roms, I thought I read 10 condoms. I was like "HOLY CROW, Jenny got condoms in the mail from the publisher! I must contact them asap and get on that mailing list." Then I put on my glasses and all was right in the world. LOL

    Feels like it's been way too long since I've read a book that inspires some good paranoia. And it's funny how you can spend so much time with a character but not really get to know them. Will sounds very intriguing. I'd like to take a crack at observing him.

  13. Loved the review! I did The Fear Test and scream my way through the whole thing. My hubby kept looking at me werid. It was scary! Oh and yes, it did guess my fear correctly. I am afraid of the dark!!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    bwithbite (at) gmail (dot) com

  14. Okay, so I'm still a little upset by the ending and the lack of revenge, but I'm in agreement about the surprise. I like the way it was told there at the end. I think I'm just upset over the not-being-about-to-do-anything-about-evil-for-a-while aspect. I think maybe I need to hit a punching assuage my anger issues. LOL!

  15. Creep me out the door!! This book reminds me somewhat of Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. Only in that you could get there, but it was hard to get out! :] I'm up for swag! Please add me to your list of giveaway people. Love your website. I'm a new follower 'midst your hordes. Deborah/TheBookishDame

  16. Ooh, Dark Eden sounds GOOD! I had kind of written it off before, but now I'm convinced it's something I need to read! Glad to hear it's exciting! :)

  17. Kris - Right? Crazy things are going on, that's for sure:)

    Rummanah - I think this is a great book for boys or any reluctant readers, it's really interesting and different and I was impressed:)

    Missie - I have no words for you. You are just too funny, and you almost made me have an accident when I read your comment:) Please leave more just like it.

    Savy - Thanks! I really want to take it, I wonder what it will come up with for me:)

    Jen - I hear you. I would have trouble waiting passively too:)

    Deborah - Seriously. I was looking over my shoulder the whole time. Welcome to Supernatural Snark, hope you like it here:)

    Lauren - It was good. Very unexpected. I wasn't sure it was my type of read either but I was wrong. Love it when that happens!

  18. This does sound good. One more chapter as a mantra is a good thing (sorry for channeling Martha there for a moment...). I think I can handle it since it is YA, but I think that Anna Dressed in Blood was scarier than the adult books I've been reading. Still not too much. Hope this is the same.

  19. I've been really wanting to read this one. Sounds like a great spooky read!

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  20. Oh. My. Ghost. This sounds awesome! It's staring at me from my shelf right now and practically begging for me to pick it up. I love that the MC's isolation only adds to the paranoia. Such a creepy premise. Halloween read? I'd say so!

  21. I completely loved this one too dude!!! Wasn't it fabulous? That's EXACTLY WHAT I DID, "Just one more... Okay... ONE MORE!"

    Love you!! Have I mentioned that I'm sooo glad you're back?

  22. I absolutely love this author! This books has been on my TBR as soon as I heard about it. Would love to win it!
    adsanders77 at gmail dot com

  23. This sounds like a fun and creepy read. I like scary books that keep you on the edge because the story is tense.

  24. I think this is the kind of book that would really freak me out. I've heard lots of awesome things about it but I'm too scared to read it! Glad to hear you enjoyed it though!

    (Not entering)

  25. You make this one seem a lot creepier than I expected. Now I'm wondering whether I want to read it because I'm probably going to be terrified afterwards.

  26. I really want to read this book. Please enter me in contest. I am scared of spiders and the dark.

  27. This book really was great!! I was definitely addicted, and had to keep reading! :)

  28. You have made this book sound very intriguing and I look forward to reading it.

  29. I've REALLY been wanting to read this one. It sounds seriously awesome :]


  30. graet review! can't wait to read it!

  31. New book for me. Off to check it out further. Sounds very interesting.


    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

  32. This sounds like a great book

  33. I thoroughly enjoyed Beckett's novel and his creativity in setting up a world of human survivors on an alien planet, the cool devolution of their descendants' language, the fear and hope that bound them together, and the one who dared to challenge it all and break their world apart.