Dark Eden by Chris Beckett


Chris Beckett has a good concept in the overall structure of this book, with the overlying question of: If you landed on a planet with less than a 50% chance of getting back to Earth, would you take the risk of dying or would you stay on an unknown world hoping that the people who did go back would make it? This is the main theme throughout the book and either view is dismal.

In Dark Eden we follow John Redlantern and Tina Spiketree, descendants of two people, Tommy and Angela, who decided to stay and wait for help on a planet they named Eden. This brings us to the first issue in the book – after over 150 years of humanity being on Eden, everyone is related to and descended from Tommy and Angela. They have formed a society called Family and have the laws which everyone follows. Unfortunately, within that time there has been no growth or spark of ingenuity, just a hope that sustains them that one day Earth will come back to rescue them. This might have been a nice story to tell the children in the early days, when they could believe that they wouldn’t be spending their life on another planet, but the descendants of the original family have made it into a story, as if it is their religion, because all they know of Earth is what they have been told.

They are told “that they must remember that a man should not slip (sleep) with his sisters, nor his daughters, not even his cousins, not if there are others to slip with”, which would be fine except for the fact that everyone has come from Tommy and Angela, so although they were obviously worried about inbreeding as Family grew, they made no mention of what would happen if there were such familial intercourse. We know that the humanity on Eden is being affected by this though as there are an increasing number of children being born with a hare lip (Batface) and clawed feet, who are treated as slightly inferior in the family, as well as a lot of people whose brain functions have not developed fully, but no one seems worried about this as the full implications were never explained and we have to assume that the original humans thought they would be gone before this could happen. Which shows that humanity will always try and thrive even if the only people around are the people you are related to.

I did enjoy the book’s structure, where each chapter was from someone else’s perception, so although there were characters that in their own narrative seemed to believe that they were the only people who could move the story forward it was good to get other people’s perspective and see what was happening to other less important characters. Although this gives you a better insight into the characters, a lot of them are very one dimensional, everyone is hiding things and playing their parts, they are just going through the motions without really feeling anything, like they are stunted. When change does come to Eden though, it’s even harder for the characters to break the mould and take charge of their own actions, but this again could be because of the inbreeding.

As a dystopia novel, this is an interesting look at human nature and interactions of society, views to survival and food sources. It can also be seen from an environmental angle of sustainability and maintaining food sources as a population grows beyond the life it can support.

Review by

1 positive reader review(s) for Dark Eden


Dark Eden reader reviews

from England

Took me a little while to get into this book but then was hooked and cannot wait for what must surely be the sequel.

7.5/10 from 2 reviews

Write a reader review

Your rating out of 10

Books you may also enjoy

The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

A father and his young son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. They have nothi [...]

Published: 2006

Score: 113

Our rating: 10.0 | 13 positive reader reviews



by George Orwell

Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels ag [...]

Published: 1949

Score: 103

Our rating: 10.0 | 3 positive reader reviews


Metro 2033

by Dmitry Glukhovsky

The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boun [...]

Published: 2005

Score: 108

Our rating: 9.9 | 9 positive reader reviews


Swan Song

by Robert McCammon

Facing down an unprecedented malevolent enemy, the government responds with a nuclear attack. America as it was is gone forever, and now every citizen – from the Pres [...]

Published: 1987

Score: 127

Our rating: 9.8 | 29 positive reader reviews


The Last Man Standing

by Davide Longo

Italy is on the brink of collapse. Borders are closed, banks withhold money, the postal service stalls. Armed gangs of drug-fuelled youths roam the countryside. Leonardo wa [...]

Published: 2012

Score: 97

Our rating: 9.6 | 1 positive reader reviews


The Chimes

by Anna Smaill

A boy stands on the roadside on his way to London, alone in the rain.No memories, beyond what he can hold in his hands at any given moment.No directions, as w [...]

Published: 2015

Score: 96

Our rating: 9.6 | 0 positive reader reviews


Animal Farm

by George Orwell

Animal Farm is set in a farmyard where the animals decide to seize the farmer's land and create a co-operative that reaps the benefits of their combined labours. Howeve [...]

Published: 1945

Score: 137

Our rating: 9.5 | 42 positive reader reviews


The Drowned World

by JG Ballard

Fluctuations in solar radiation have melted the ice caps, sending the planet into a new Triassic Age of unendurable heat. London is a swamp; lush tropical vegetation grows [...]

Published: 1962

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews


Oryx and Crake

by Margaret Atwood

Snowman may be the last man on earth, the only survivor of an unnamed apocalypse. Once he was Jimmy, a member of a scientific elite; now he lives in bitter isolation and lo [...]

Published: 2003

Score: 96

Our rating: 9.5 | 1 positive reader reviews