Saturday, 18 October 2014

Review: After Eden by Helen Douglas

After Eden (After Eden #1) by Helen Douglas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Released: November 7th 2013
My Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

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.
(from Goodreads)

NOTE: I wrote this review at 2am after a very bad day.

I don't know if it's because I was reading this book on a train that was both delayed and diverted, therefore making me suffer an extra hour of travelling, but this book annoyed me. So much. It claimed not to be pretentious, and yet the main character (who only approved of wine parties that involved political debate to change the world) kept banging on about Shakespeare with like, some year seven level interpretation of Romeo & Juliet that had me cracking up because she clearly thought this was some genius original idea she was having when literally it's like the first thing anyone is ever taught when they study that text. The whole fate vs we make our own destiny thing was SO cliche, it was actually painful. But of course despite having this wealth of knowledge on Shakespeare and even though she was supposedly smart (who doesn't know that other planets exist outside our solar system? REALLY?) she couldn't associate herself with the nerds either because that would just be so uncool. For eff's sake. And she was such a hypocrite. She made fun/didn't "approve" of this stereotypical mean girl character wearing short skirts/tight clothes to "impress guys", but as soon as there was a "worthy" guy in the picture for Eden, she had no problem changing her entire dress style to wear skirts and dressy tops herself, clearly in an attempt to impress Ryan/Orion/Jimmy No Personality, so just what was her issue in the first place? So it's okay when she does it, and when her skirt is just that tad bit longer? My GOD. Aren't we over this already? I am so sick of this "I'm not like other girls" mentality. OTHER GIRLS ARE NOT THE ENEMY. And not only that, but she was so goddamn stupid. Ryan, Duke of Boredonia clearly told her not to tell anyone that she knew his secret because it would have dire consequences, but then she just couldn't resist rubbing it in his sister/whatever's face that she knew and that Ryan told her, and then everything turned to shit because of that. You had ONE JOB, Eden. Ugh. And I'm not even including various other incidents, such as getting into some random stranger's car, not seeing the obvious etc. etc.

Ryan, or Empty Shell, as I like to call him, was completely devoid of personality. All he did was try to flirt information out of people. There was nothing beyond that, except his ridiculous lack of knowledge of the 21st century. I'm sorry but you really expect me to believe that hundreds of years in the future, they'll still be teaching Shakespeare (luckily for Eden), but not about Hitler? REALLY? We still learn about Henry the freaking VIII, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't take Hitler out of the curriculum. And even if they did, how could they allow someone, so woefully ignorant of 21st century history, to then go to a freaking school in which they KNOW HE WILL BE STUDYING 21ST CENTURY HISTORY?! Were they trying to fail this mission on purpose, or is everyone in the future just THAT stupid? Ryan was stupidly leaving clues all over the place like a trail of bloody breadcrumbs. It's like he wanted her to find out! Don't even get me started on the romance, because it was just the worst kind of insta-love and I seriously can't believe Ryan Boring McBoreason was willing to give up his entire life in the future, his whole family, everything he'd ever known, for some girl he barely knew in the 21st century. The boy was seventeen, and he and Eden had like, zero chemistry. This was not going to be an everlasting love. He basically just ruined his whole life.

Plot-wise, hahahaha. There were so many unexplained time paradoxes. Like, you usually have a few issues with time travel in books, but this was ridiculous. Nothing was explained at all about how time travel worked, or what the effects of changing events in time would be. And apparently people from the future caused the dinosaurs to be wiped out, and the bubonic plague? How does that even work?! If people went back in time and accidentally caused the death of dinousaurs, what caused them to be wiped out in the first place, before they went back in time? Because obviously they did not exist in the future of the people who chose to go back in time. And if they changed the past, could they even return to their own future? It would be so wholly changed. Their memories wouldn't match the events that happened. Were there multiple timelines? Was there some sort of Steins;Gate world line theory going on, or some kind of multiverse thing happening? I don't pretend to be a science expert but give me SOMETHING to work with, damn it, that's more than just "oh the flu killed the dinosaurs, hahaha, and we also caused the Black Death, whoopsie". And this whole finding the planet thing by accident - SURELY someone other than a random sixteen year old boy would have found this planet? And the whole trying to stop Connor from discovering it - what the hell was their plan?! He discovered it at the ball, so you know, maybe a good idea would be for him NOT TO GO TO THE BALL THEN? Not drag him there and relive events almost exactly as they previously occurred! It would have been so easy to prevent him from discovering it, I really don't know why they found it to be so troublesome. And Cassie - Cassie was there so that they wouldn't kill Connor to stop the discovery because she was his great-granddaughter and the death of Connor would have meant she would no longer exist (again, another issue with the timelines - this suggests just one which creates huge problems with the previous things I pointed out). But didn't she realise that Connor simply not finding the planet may have led to her never existing as well? He might not have gone to the same university because of it, he might never have done the things or met the people he would have had he discovered the damn planet - she couldn't guarantee he'd have children with the same woman - why would anyone risk this?! And the planet, Eden -__-, itself - Ryan the Unriveting said it was mainly uninhabitable and not an alternative for living on Earth - why the hell was he born there then?! There was never an explanation for that, it was just a plot device to make him some time-travelling super alien.

Also, I don't even get why Travis was so intent on killing Eden in the end. And present Connor got over Eden sooo easily whereas future Connor who got rejected in the past (?) pined for her his whole life and named a planet after her despite the fact that events for him didn't really change too much. But whatever.

My personal favourite line that really shows the writing style: "High above the school campus, two buzzards were circling anticlockwise, like the hands of a backwards turning clock."

I have probably missed out various other things that annoyed me, but oh well. I didn't like this book. Don't read it unless you enjoy headaches. Also, Southern is the worst rail service ever.

EDIT: I just found out this book has a sequel. Don't know what could possibly be worth adding to this story. I'm almost tempted to read it just to see if it's as bad, but unfortunately I've got a dissertation to write and not as much time to waste these days.

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