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.
I had been seeing Children of Eden around for a while and the synopsis sounded interesting enough that I eventually picked it up. There are two things that you should note about this book before picking it up. The first is that this book isn’t written solely by Joey Graceffa. Despite there being no indication on the cover, it clearly states on the title page that it was written with Laura L. Sullivan. The second thing is that, while this book is ostensibly a standalone, it really is not. The story does not end with any kind of resolution and actually leaves more questions than have been answered. There is definitely a sequel planned for this book.
Children of Eden is a dystopian novel, set in a post-apocalyptic world where the sole survivors of Earth now live in Eden, where everything is regulated, including the human population. Each family is only allowed to have one child, in order to preserve the little amounts of food that exists in Eden. Second Children are illegal and are usually killed before they are even born. Those who have been hidden away in secret by their families, usually live a life of imprisonment and are not able to live a normal life, unless they are able to obtain black market lenses that are used for identification, and assume a new identity. Rowan is a Second Child and comes from a well-respected family who have the means to buy her a pair of lenses and a new identity. However, having this new identity and freedom means that she can never see her family again. When Rowan learns about this, she has her first act of rebellion and escapes from her house for a night. There she meets a friend but this taste of freedom leads to dangerous and tragic consequences. Soon, she finds herself on the run from the Greenshirts and meets other Second Children along the way.
I liked the world in this book a lot. It was well conceptualised and nicely described. It wasn’t the most original of worlds and it’s definitely similar to other worlds that I’ve read about before. But I thought it included some interesting elements and I liked that there was a pretty big focus on it in the novel. Having said that, I do think that too much of the book was dedicated to the world building and there wasn’t a lot of anything else in the novel.
I thought the book was well written for the most part. The writing was much better than I had expected going into the book. My criticism with the writing was that there was a bit too much telling and not enough showing. Rowan asks all the questions for the reader, which is not a style that I typically enjoy. Being told exactly what questions to ask about the story makes the reading experience less enjoyable for me and I was a bit bored with the book about 40% of the way in. There needed to be a lot more subtlety and a lot less telling. There was also some made up curses and swear words in the book, and I found them to be incredibly distracting and honestly, kind of stupid? It was something that I couldn’t really get over.
The plot itself was fun and adventurous but I thought there needed to be better transitions and development. There isn’t a lot of action in the book, which is fine, but what was going on in the story gave me whiplash at times. For example, Rowan goes from hating someone to not wanting to be away from them within the span of a few pages. There just needed to be a bit more gradual development for my liking. There were also some things that I found to be unrealistic or hard to believe and I checked out of the story about halfway through. I did not understand the last 20 pages of the book at all and I disliked the way that it ended. I also found Rowan to be extremely annoying throughout the novel and I didn’t like her as a main character. I thought some of her decisions were very illogical and didn’t make sense to me. I just never managed to connect with her.
My biggest issue with the book was the romance. There is love triangle in the book and they were both cases of instalove. My overall impression of the romance in the book was that it felt extremely forced and I was just disinterested in the romance. The only thing that I did like about it was that it was a bisexual love triangle but other than that, I was not on board with the romance. Needless to say, I probably won’t be picking up the sequel.