Sunday, January 26, 2014

Review: After Eden by Helen Douglas

Title: After Eden
Author: Helen Douglas
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: Bloomsbury Sydney. Thank you!

Goodreads rating: 3.69 out of 5.00 (780+ ratings)
Goodreads | The Reading Room

Eden Anfield loves puzzles, so when mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school she's hooked. On the face of it, he's a typical American teenager. So why doesn't he recognise pizza? And how come he hasn't heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden the most, however, is the interest he's taking in her.

As Eden starts to fall in love with Ryan, she begins to unravel his secret. Her breakthrough comes one rainy afternoon when she stumbles across a book in Ryan's bedroom - a biography of her best friend - written over fifty years in the future. Confronting Ryan, she discovers that he is there with one unbelievably important purpose ... and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success.

Review by Nara

After finishing this book my face probably looked something like this: -___-
Instalove, terrible scientific background, clumsy narrative, predictability- unfortunately this was exactly the type of book that I do not enjoy.

Something about the narrative just seemed very...stilted. It wasn't the smooth story it should have been. Semi-time skips and very rough transitions between scenes made for a very rough ride. Not only that, the narrative voice most certainly didn't sound anything like a teenager. It was much too formal. The characters in general just didn't sound like teenagers either.

There was also the problem early on in the book where the author would almost assume that you already know who all the characters are. She'd throw in a statement similar to "and Miranda was waiting for me at home" without actually saying who Miranda is. Is it the main character's mother? Sister? Grandma?? It's not revealed that Miranda is Eden's aunt until a short while later. The same thing happened for Megan, one of Eden's friends.

Okay, so evident from the blurb, Eden finds out the truth that Ryan is from the future because of a book that he brought from the future. I'm sorry, but that is COMPLETELY idiotic. Why the eff would you take ANYTHING from the future back in time with you?! And in any case, why the heck would you ever need that book??? If anything, you should be memorising it, if it's so important you need to bring it back in time with you asdflasdf RAGE! Also, the fact that Ryan doesn't know what pizza is and doesn't know who Hitler is- WHY DID YOU NOT DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE COMING BACK INTO THE PAST?! Surely you'd at least get the fundamental things down- and it's not like the time travellers shouldn't know all these things, especially if they've been to the past before. Sigh.

The romance is ridiculous. There is absolutely no build up whatsoever, it goes from Ryan being the new (hot) kid, to Eden being all *sahwoon* for apparently no reason except that he's good looking. Instalove to the nth degree. There's also the annoying trope of the beautiful bitch also coming onto the love interest, which, honestly, the book could do without. Chloe added absolutely nothing to the plot and took away the last dregs of tolerance I had for the romance. And the petty jealousy that Connor (Eden's "best friend") had towards Ryan and Eden's "relationship" was probably the most annoying aspect of the plot.

The science behind the time travel seemed very very iffy. I mean, apparently the time travellers only have this one chance to fix things in the past (i.e. current time in the book) because the portal from the future collapses in on itself if they use the same route multiple times. Well, why don't they wait 5 minutes and then travel back to the future? Then technically it's not the same route. Or 5 years? Or 50 years? Or travel forward in time before going back in time? Or do multiple time leaps backwards until they reach the time they want? There really should be as many chances as they wish to make.

Another thing before I close up this rant, the plot was TOTALLY PREDICTABLE. There's something called a "cleaner" in the book- a person who is sent back in time before the main mission team to make sure that things aren't disturbed too much in the past, and therefore to eliminate people who know things they shouldn't i.e. Eden. And this person's identity is supposed to be a secret but OMFG IT WAS SO OBVIOUS. I guessed it very early on, and honestly, by 3/4 of the way through any old person should've been able to see it coming.

Well, that's the end of this very long review/rant, but basically I really disliked this book and wouldn't recommend it to anyone who's read a lot of YA. I think that younger readers aged 8-12 may still enjoy it though.

Didn't like it

Overall: 4/10
Plot: 2/5
Writing: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Cover: 2/5


  1. That pretty sums up what I thought of it. I just, ugh. Yeah, the cleaner was obvious, and how suddenly he becomes a pervert. Really? And I loved how Eden out of all people, even the ones sentback to do exactly that, saves the earth. How freaking realistically of you. Great review! :)

    1. Yeah that turnaround in that person's character was ridiculous...
      hahaha so true! So silly that the time travellers pretty much did nothing at all lol

  2. Yup, pretty much! It felt very juvenile, kind of like in between MG and YA. The predictability, the stilted narrative - it wasn't very sophisticated at all.

    Connor's jealousy had me in fits of rages. If he'd been a few years older, I could totally see him as a Nice Guy type who thinks Eden should be with him because, look at him, he's so sensitive and nice! I got so many creepy vibes from him.

    1. I feel like if I were younger I might've enjoyed the book a lot more. As it stands, I couldn't take it haha

      IT WAS SO STUPID! I mean, maybe it would've been okay if he just did the whole jealousy thing once, but he does it EVERY time that Ryan steps on the scene and it's like jaksldfla STAHP IT D:

  3. I have heard many of the same things about this book. Sorry you didn't like it. I think its hard to do a great time travel story. There are few I like and feel the science made sense. Great review.

    1. I don't think there really are that many time travel YA books out is a pretty difficult subject to tackle. I think the ones that usually succeed are the ones that don't really focus on the science, but have other more interesting aspects like All Our Yesterdays and Ruby Red and Time Between Us, for example. :)

  4. Okay, I'm confused. He bought a book back from the future; I love books, but to bring a BOOK out of ALL OTHER THINGS from the future? I'll probably bring a laser gun just in case some crazy people find out I'm from the future and want to dissect me, not a BOOK.
    Ha ha, that inta-love sounds like Twilight with a usual mean cheerleader. Poor Jacob -ahem- I mean Connor.

    1. I KNOW RIGHT! Also leaving the book out in plain sight so that any old person can go "hey look! A book published in the future" is so stupid. WHY would you do least hide it underneath your bed or something lol

      hey it does! Except I'm going to make the call and say it's even worse than the Twilight love triangle. Ugh so terrible.

  5. This definitely seems like a problematic book. I am sorry it didn't work out.

    1. haha yeah, unfortunately, not quite my cup of tea :P

  6. Me after reading this book's blurb: "Wow, this sounds kind of fascinating."

    Me after reading your review: "Not anymore."

    It definitely sounds like everything that could go wrong did go wrong in this book, especially the time travel aspect. When I read science fiction, I like to actually understand HOW things work, and the whole time element sounds so under-developed. Have you read All Our Yesterdays? You should if you want a good YA time travel book - it's thrilling and not so predictable, and the sciencey side has plenty of understandable explanation.

    Thanks for your thoughts - I'll probably pass this one up now!

    1. hahaha yeah I have to admit the blurb doesn't sound too bad, but unfortunately the book is nothing like the blurb...

      I love All Our Yesterdays! I actually though the science side of things in that book wasn't completely solid lol but I didn't really care because the other aspects of the plot were so much more compelling. Sadly, that didn't happen for After Eden...