Deborah is a writer and champion of books. She is an independent reader/reviewer, uncompensated for major and minor publishers. With degrees in Fine Arts, ArtHistory/MuseumStudies and English Lit., her interests are eclectic, as are her reading preferences. Surrounding herself with books,artworks, assorted papergoods and a collection of pens, she reads constantly, writes reviews...writes and writes!View Full Profile
Fifteen-year-old Will Besting is sent by his doctor to Fort Eden, an institution meant to help patients suffering from crippling phobias. Once there, Will and six other teenagers take turns in mysterious fear chambers and confront their worst nightmares—with the help of the group facilitator, Rainsford, an enigmatic guide. When the patients emerge from the chamber, they feel emboldened by the previous night's experiences. But each person soon discovers strange, unexplained aches and pains. . . . What is really happening to the seven teens trapped in this dark Eden?
The Dame's Terrifying Report :
I haven't read anything written by Patrick Carman before, and I know I'm poorer for that. He's a prolific author, and one that's greatly touted in YA fiction circles. I plan to correct my ignorance very quickly since I found "Dark Eden" a most compelling novel.
First of all, I was drawn by the inspired concept for this novel. I can never turn down a book about insanity or horrific phobias. Stephen King is the man who ruined me for that. Once I was hooked on his scary writings...it was the end for me! Now I can't resist a novel about a creepy mental hospital, fears, strange cures and demented doctors. Nor can I keep my bulging eyes from reading about deeply scary wooded areas, creepy-crawlies and being alone in those dark places. Are you starting to see my "fears?" Wheeeee no dark edens for me, please...
All that being the preliminary to telling you that this "Dark Eden" fulfilled all my hopes for a YA novel on the edge of asylum-unhinged scariness. Patrick Carman had me from the first pages; I was at his mercy whether I wanted to be or not. Poor Will Bestings...poor other teens...and poor me as we began to learn what the cures for their phobias was going to be, or what oddities might have to be endured to lose their assorted fears.
Will embodies the "best in" (no coincidence in the name) all teen aged boys who dive into a situation to help others that might call for strengths and extraordinary tasks they didn't even realize they had. I loved this character and his willingness to understand what was happening to his "captured" group. I loved that he embodied all those cynical boys out there, too.
What I loved most about the book were the psychological twists and turns that led us to the ending. It had the touches of all slightly skewed minds... What over-powering fears do you have that you'd give anything to do away with?
The problem, if I may identify one, would be that the other characters are not fully developed for my tastes. While we understand who and what Will seems to be about, the other characters become mostly shadow figures outside of their "fears," and that causes us to be less inclined to attach ourselves to them. That makes the conclusion less satisfying than it might have been. But, getting there was good... Does this ruin the book? No, but it may have made for more impact.
As for me, I'll be up late reading more books by Mr. Carman.