Title: Children of Eden: A Novel
Author: Joey Graceffa
Publisher: Atria Books, 2016 (October 4)
Genre: YA Dystopian, YA Science Fiction
First, I want to declare the winners of the signed copies of Dyan Chick’s Heir of Illaria. They have been notified and Dyan has already received the addresses to send them out. In addition, since Rafflecopter accidentally allowed me to draw three winners (since I’m new to it and don’t understand it all yet…but I know it like a pro now!). So my third winner received an ebook copy on me. 😊
The winners are:
- Theresa S. (she’s not a blogger so no link to a page)
- Amanda @ Cover2Cover Mom (if you haven’t checked her blog out, you should: its amazing and just had a remodel)
And the winner of the ebook version is Megan @ BookslayerReads!
Yay to all the winners! Thank you ALL for entering and I’ll be doing more giveaways soon: with other authors and on my own! I have a Flash Giveaway right now on Twitter for a copy of The Glitch by Ramona Finn (check it out – @TeacherofYA) because I won a copy of the book as a runner-up in the YASH scavenger hunt and I already own a copy. It’s an Amazon voucher for the book and it runs until 4/20, so GO ENTER!!
Now, for the review…
I had started this novel way back when I had it the first time on Overdrive. I got to around 30% and then Overdrive took it back. I was sooo bummed because I was getting really into it! I’m a big nerdy dystopian fan and I loved the concept. And the writing was spot on. I even checked the physical book out…but other books came first and it got pushed to the wayside.
Then Overdrive had it available again (honestly I had it on hold) and as the days ticked by and I was reading other books, I came down to the wire again. I thought, “Oh, hell no! Not again! Not this time!” And I sat and read it straight through. I think I had an hour left on my loan (though a secret – if you keep the book open in Kindle, you get to keep it practically another 24 hours…it’s not a guarantee so don’t quote me on this, but for me it’s worked when I was cutting it close.
And let’s not even start on my accidental copies that STAYED on my Kindle after the book was returned, but only on my older Kindle for some reason)
Rowan is a second child in the city of Eden. Eden is a city of chosen people left over from a devastation to the Earth: an apocalyptic event, if you will. Because Eden’s resources are limited, there is s strict one child per family rule. In Rowan’s case, she is a twin (her brother, Ash, is her closest ally and friend) and unfortunately was born second.
Through a misdirection, Rowan was saved and has been kept secret for 16 years. She envies her brother but loves him: he has severe breathing problems and needs the extra help. When he comes home from school every day, Rowan pesters him about details: the friends, the clothes, and Lark, the girl Ash has a crush on. Ash obliges as Rowan cannot see it firsthand: she cannot leave the house for fear of exposing herself and her entire family.
When Rowan learns something shocking, she decides to be a little reckless and sneak out. She’s tired of the hiding and the restlessness…she’s tired of the lack of eye implants that every citizen of Eden has; instead of flat, gray-blue eyes, her hazel ones stand out like a sore thumb. Marking her a second child. Marking her for death.
When Rowan sneaks out, she meets Lark by accident: after all Ash has described, she imagined Lark just as she is, her lilac-colored hair framing her friendly face. When Lark finds out about Rowan, they instantly become friends, and Lark invites her out again and again. Suddenly, Lark seems to be more than just a friend.
But before anything can happen, Rowan learns she must be moved. She will be placed with a well-paid foster family and get counterfeit lenses that will mark her a first child. The only caveat to her freedom? She must leave her family and her twin brother behind, never to look back.
When the date gets moved up suddenly, Rowan is thrown into a situation that puts her in danger, and along the way meets Lachlan, another second child with mysteries of his own. And when Rowan is offered a choice, she is faced with a chance to save all the second borns out there…and perhaps find out more about Eden than she ever bargained for.
Yes: if you’re tired of the only option in dystopian fiction to be The Hunger Games or The Giver (both excellent books btw), this is a great choice. Though it sounds like a Communist manifesto sometimes, it is a good book that will show how destruction of the Earth can have terrible consequences. There are several quotes that make me feel like there’s a hidden agenda:
Why on Earth then do some people have so much, some so little? It makes no sense. The inner circle people don’t need exotic nightclubs, decadent food, and luxury clothes. If they had a little less, the people out here would have a little more . . . . Why doesn’t EcoPan divide the resources equally?
This isn’t necessarily true. Yes, it’s a beautiful idea, and it’s optimistic, but if applied to a real world scenario, it’s simply another way of advocating distribution of wealth. And that’s fine if that’s what you want to believe…it’s just that there are other issues to be focused on, and this one seems the most heavily emphasized. Even that simple sentence about dividing resources equally…this might actually work in a self-contained society like Eden, but sometimes it’s just not that simple.
However, despite that message, it still is a book that fights a controlling government, and I am always a fan of those. Graceffa modeled the book after China’s own old “one child policy” that rewarded families for helping control the population by giving more to those who didn’t have more than one child. It’s a sign of the benefits and drawbacks of civilizations like this: when the government controls the resources, what may seem fair to some will be unfair to many others. Perhaps this is a method that can be discussed at length in a classroom setting.
That’s why I give Children of Eden…
Because even if I don’t identify with all that is said in the book, it’s filled with great discussion material and resounds a message of the “utopia hiding a dystopia” at heart. And those stories are always great from an educational standpoint. I would keep a copy of this and use it in my classroom lessons for sure. It would be nice to have an alternative to the typical dystopian lit that’s already everywhere.
Finally a book is on Lexile! This book is suggested for a reading level of 770L, which, judging by the provided chart (which took me all this time to finally find), indicates a basic reading level of 5th grade. Now this doesn’t mean you hand any book with a 770L to a fifth grader and say, “Go at it: it’s your score.” Quite the opposite. The Lexile number is a guide. It means (to me at least) that the text is simple to understand for reluctant YA readers, and I personally would find no problem using this as a MG read. Personally I find that many books have a lower score even when they are targeted for older readers because Lexile measures complexity and not content.
So I would personally say 12 and up, but Lexile recommends as young as 9. I don’t think a 9 year old should really read a book this complex, so I stick with my original assessment of 12 and up (they suggest 9-13).*
*I will say that a lot of young (probably avid) readers come to his signings. So if you think your 9 year old is an avid reader, and you want something mild but complex, interesting yet understandable, then it doesn’t hurt to give it a try, as it ALWAYS depends on the reader. You know your reader best.
I enjoyed this book immensely. It ends kind of strangely, so I don’t know if there’s a sequel, or like with The Giver, it’s meant to be interpreted however you choose. I personally hope for a sequel, because as it ends now, it keeps me from adding that last extra star to make it one of my faves. I tried to find out but only came up with fanfiction (and not good ones) that continue the story. I never knew about Graceffa before I read his book, and his charismatic personality makes me like this book even more. I mean, he wrote a GOOD BOOK. I am not someone who watches YouTube, but I was a little hesitant when I found out an online celebrity was writing a YA dystopian novel. Well, who knew? The man can write! And write well.
I personally give Children of Eden ★★★★☆, and that’s only because of the strange ending. Anyone who loves dystopian fiction and also loves a non-traditional love triangle (talk about wonderful diversity…I won’t call Rowan bisexual bc I don’t want to label her, but I will say that she loves openly and honestly and I love that about her character!) will enjoy this. Rowan is a likeable main character and she is strong but flawed, brave but scared. I was rooting for her the whole time. And I don’t usually get attached to MCs lately.
So that means I give Children of Eden (in my rating scale):
Will you be checking out Children of Eden? Have I convinced you yet? If not, let’s leave off with a very handsome pic of the author from his own YouTube trailer (that I absolutely loved)…and maybe it will convince you more:
Whatcha all reading? You know I love to hear about it! I have another review to post for Black Dawn and one for my HP reread that I’ve been lagging on writing…you know, since it’s hard to do justice in a review of anything Harry Potter-related!
But I want to know…and don’t forget to check out my Twitter giveaway @TeacherofYA!