Truth be told, I don’t read a lot of young adult fiction. And while I like fantasy, I tend to avoid books in that genre until I hear that the story won’t be too trite. Can you see why my opinion was divided before even opening this book? I was a tough sell, people.
Joelle Charbonneau (The Testing series)’s Dividing Eden tells the story of twin siblings Carys and Andreus, who are suddenly pitted against each other in a deadly competition to win the throne of Eden. I know what you’re thinking: it’s like Cain and Abel meet The Hunger Games, right? Maybe a toned-down Game of Thrones? Wrong! These siblings have always had each other’s backs. When going into the competition, they’ve already decided who will ultimately win from the outset. Needless to say, things don’t exactly go as planned.
I’ll admit that this book was predictable in many ways, but here’s where it got interesting: instead of the deadly competition being the focus of the book, it was merely the setting. The focus was on the relationship between Carys and Andreus, and how the smallest of circumstances shook the foundation of their world. Because we all have those random thoughts, don’t we? The smallest things that suddenly make us question the certainties of our lives? Except in Eden, those niggling little questions determine the fate of a nation.
And you know what? I was surprised. I didn’t see the ending coming at all, even though the story is told from both siblings’ points of view. I found myself turning the pages quickly, eager to find out what happened next. My thoughts on Dividing Eden had been a bit divided, I’ll admit, but ultimately, I fell on the side of heck yes, when is the next one coming out?!
On a technical note, the writing style is accessible. Though, it occasionally feels like author Charbonneau is trying too hard to ground her world in one we can relate to. For example, we have an old-fashioned setting, yet anachronistic responses like “okay” come out of the character’s mouths. That took me out of the world if I’m being honest. That said, it’s a fantasy. Charbonneau makes the rules, and it’s my job to get on board. Which I did.
Ultimately, she succeeded in writing a novel that acted as a sort of wormhole that I could plunge into while in the waiting room, and forget that I was about to see the dentist. Job done, right?
My BFF once told me that it’s not about the familiarity of the story’s structure, it’s how you tell the story, how you make it different that matters. I agree. And Dividing Eden is the perfect example.