Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa
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.
I’ll start by saying I didn’t know who Joey Graceffa was before I read this book. So that’s not why I picked it up. I had seen the blurb for this a few months back and thought it looked interesting. It turns out that Joey had some help writing this book from Laura Sullivan, which doesn’t bother me at all, better that it is admitted rather than trying to cover it up.
I will say this book starts off kind of slow. The world-building is pretty dense for a YA novel. Even though it may not look like it when you hold the book in your hand, there’s a lot of words packed onto every page.
But once the book gets going, the plot is interesting. I believe this is going to be a trilogy or a series of some length. I am interested to see where it goes from here. I think there’s a lot of interesting things that have been set up in Children of Eden that I hope really pay off later. There were also some issues tackled in this book in ways that were either unique or aren’t seen much which helped elevate this story even though it wasn’t a perfect story/book.
My biggest issue with it was that I really didn’t feel connected to the main character. Which is a problem for a book told in first-person. I was actually pretty far into the book when I realized I kept forgetting the main character’s name. An interesting issue when you remember the premise is that the narrator is a character who is hidden away and isn’t supposed to exist…so somehow the main character also manages to be forgettable to the reader, too.
I also had some issues with believability of some of the things the characters did. Not the central characters, luckily. But
There are an awful lot of parents in this world who are eager to abandon or betray their children. I may not be a parent myself, but even I have a hard time believing that would be so. Between what happens with Rowan’s family and the families of other second children, I just don’t get that. At all. Some, okay fine. There are terrible people in our world too. But especially when you weigh that against the lengths these people take to protect their second children…I don’t believe they would take the risk only to reverse course at a later date.
END SPOILER ALERT
This was not the best book I’ve read in either the YA or dystopian genres, but I am intrigued enough to keep going. I am hopeful that further books in the series will improve upon this initial entry.