Monday, 15 July 2013

Book: Eden by Janelle Stalder

Book 1 in the Eden series. I was given a review copy of Eden through a Goodreads group.

Aiden is your normal 15 year old boy, he's not that popular, he has one good friend, wears glasses, has a crush on the popular girl, and loves his little sister. Then one night a witch from a land called Eden transports him to her world where he is part of a prophecy and the one to save Eden from the armies of Prince Callum, the younger brother of the High King. There he meets the devastatingly beautiful, Elisa, the best archer in the King's army at only 17, and the only woman, her reluctant fiancee, Wolf, his best friend, Logan, and another young recruit, Felix. They embark on training for the war that will decide who the High King will be, and along the way are the troubles and turmoils that being 15 - 17 will bring!

Link to Goodreads
Link to amazon

My synopsis does not do this book justice. I will admit to being unsure about what to expect when I started reading about Aiden in the modern world, but once he was transported I got completely lost in the world of Eden. The setting was so vivid and the history of the country so well thought out, even the prologue was used as time to explain the background, it showed the moment that Prince Callum and High King Jameson went against each other.

I found that Stalder's characters were real individuals, particularly Wolf, I could imagine just the kind of person he'd be, the tough exterior but actually inside he really cares. I'll admit that to start off with I didn't like Wolf at all (a sign of a well written character if I feel strongly one way or another!) but after reading, and after hearing his side of the spring festival story, I started to like him, and that went further by me actually wanting Elisa and Wolf to fall in love (they're already half way there I think!), massive turn around for the character there!!!

Elisa was another character I really liked, when writing my notes on the book I simply wrote; 'Elisa has spunk!' I liked that she didn't feel that she constantly had to prove herself, she saw herself as equal to the mean and she didn't care who knew that! On the other side of the coin she does act like she's 17. You often get young characters in the fantasy genre that act a lot older than their age, and though in some cases this is understandable due to circumstances (just about all the Stark kids in A Song of Ice and Fire by GRRM for example), in most it just seems to be unrealistic (yes I realise the irony of saying this about the fantasy genre!) Both Elisa and Wolf acted like they were 17 in the book, particularly when they would bicker and argue (in my opinion evidence towards them being good for each other!) and as I mentioned, this added a much more realistic dynamic to both the characters, and their relationships to each other.

I really liked the way that Stalder created grey characters, even those that came off as evil or bad to start of with, like Callum and Brutus, were shown to have a softer side, shown primarily through Rose, who is Felix's sister. There is a definite love growing between Callum and Rose though, and though it is kind of predictable as it follows the captor-captive model (also used in the film Troy between Brad Pitt's character and the priestess), it was still cute to see happening and I didn't think any less of the story telling because of this predictability.

The pacing of the book picked up about half way through, and the second half of the book was well written to increase the suspense before the climax, and when that climax came I wasn't disappointed, it went the way that I expected it to go, but the telling of it was done well and my only real issue with it would be that the story just came to a sort of abrupt end! Then again that has made me desperate to read the next one, so maybe that plot device works!

Definitely worth a read, don't be put off by the modern setting, that is left behind after a couple of chapters and you're transported, along with Aiden, to a world of magic, swords and fantasy!