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Library Journal Review
Eden is a planet far from Earth where 500 or so humans, all descended from two stranded astronauts, live together in a community they call Family. They tell tales of their family's founding 163 years ago and try to keep traditions alive so that they will one day be rescued and returned to Earth. But a lot can happen in six generations, even among those who all share the same ancestors, and teenager John Redlantern thinks it is time for Family to change. VERDICT The worldbuilding is what sets this sf novel by award-winning British author Beckett (The Holy Machine; Marcher) apart. The linguistic drift of the isolated community, the unique environment of sunless Eden, and the social arrangements of Family are all fascinating. The main character is skillfully drawn, but the addition of other point-of-view chapters help round out the picture of a society in the midst of upheaval. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
On an alien world, the inbred descendants of a cop and a criminal grapple with their future, but predictability mars a solid concept. Teenager John Redlantern sees a future beyond waiting for voyagers from Earth to rescue the Family, but his battles against tradition and the elements lead to only minor losses, while technology is recreated too easily to be credible. Beckett (The Peacock Cloak) hews too closely to historical patterns, such as the change from communal matriarchy to aggressive territorial patriarchy. The use of multiple narrators is clever, as are creatures like singing leopards and the changes to English over generations, but it's not enough. The ending just confirms what readers will have suspected from early on-the last in a long series of missed opportunities. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Imagine a world called Eden populated by a mere 532 inhabitants, all descended from two common ancestors, Tommy and Angela, who came to the planet 163 years earlier by spaceship and stayed to populate a world. Imagine this, and you have the setting for British writer Beckett's superb novel of speculative fiction. Its protagonist is 15-year-old John Redlantern, whose act of rebellion defies sacred tradition and changes his world forever, resulting in his being banished from his rudimentary hunter-gatherer community. He will be joined in exile by three young friends, and theirs becomes a compelling story of both survival and discovery. It is told in a number of distinctive first-person voices that beautifully define character and reveal the fact that Eden's language has become corrupted; thus, anniversary becomes Any Virsry; radio, Rayed Yo; electricity, Lecky-trickity; and so forth. Beckett has done a brilliantly imaginative job of world building in both global concepts and quotidian details. The planet, for example, is sunless, the light being provided by trees and animals; leopards sing to their prey; time is measured in wombtimes thus, John, 15, is 20 wombtimes old. None of these specifics gets in the way of a suspenseful, page-turning plot, however, and the book is a superb entertainment, a happy combination of speculative and literary fiction. And it is not to be missed.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2014 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Like Daniel F. Galouye's Dark Universe or Jack Vance's The Blue World, Beckett's (The Peacock Cloak, 2013, etc.) newest is a story of survivors in an alien environment who have more or less forgotten their origins. Planet Eden has no sun. In its place are huge trees pumping hot water up from subterranean volcanic rivers, which power the ecology. Both flora and fauna make their own tiny lights (but why wouldn't they adapt to the perpetual dark by evolving different senses or capabilities?). Two humans, Tommy and Angela, were stranded here, and now, six generations later, have incestuously bred a large family plagued by genetic disorders, held together by a deteriorating law and oral culture, which remembers without understanding such terms as lecky-trickity and Rayed Yo. Family members long for the bright sun of Earth (but how would they know? All lights on Eden are dim and feeble) and, since they believe Tommy and Angela's three companions returned to Earth to bring help, cling to the spot where the Landing Veekle will touch down, even though the valley they inhabit is too small to accommodate the growing population and starvation looms. Young John Redlantern wonders what lies beyond the ice-covered mountains that confine the valley and attempts to persuade the family's female rulers that they must migrate or die. In a bold yet calculated act, he destroys the circle of stones that mark the landing spot and is exiled for his trouble. John, though, has his supporters, including love interest Tina Spiketree, Gerry (who follows John like a dog), and club-footed, highly intelligent Jeff. Thus the stage is set for a parting of ways, exploration, conflict, murder and the erasure of accepted truths. The narrative unfolds via several first-person accounts, which allows Beckett to develop a perspective on his archetypal main characters. Absorbing if often familiar, inventive and linguistically adept but less than fully satisfyingthere's no climax, and a sequel seems assured. Despite all this, the book was extravagantly praised in Beckett's native U.K. Enjoyable but no blockbuster.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.