Mar 2, 2010

[Books] Edenborn

It's not very often that I venture into a new book series without having read more about it beforehand or received extensive feedback on the series from fellow geeks. And yet every now and then there are those books that just strike you as worth the gamble and so we just go for it. Sometimes we end up regretting such rash purchasing decisions. Other times we're definitely rewarded.

When it came to this series of books, I ended up waiting to complete the initial trilogy before even trying to get started on reading the first book. I just wanted to make sure that I'd be ready to dive into the whole experience in case it proved interesting. Had it not, then I would have wasted my money on a few more books, which ultimately isn't a bad thing. There is no such thing as too many books, hehe.

Well, this book was definitely worth the purchase. Absolutely.

Edenborn is Nick Sagan's sequel to the post-apocalyptic novel Idlewild. It has been approximately 18 years since the events of the first book and the posthuman survivors are trying to take up the mission they were created for many years ago. In Egypt, Isaac has raised a group of normal humans that he keeps alive through extensive medication, arguing that natural humans are needed to repopulate the world. In Germany. Vashti and Champagne are raising a group of bioengineered girls as representatives of their philosophy to improve the human race in order to survive in the post Black Ep world. The two camps regular send their respective children to live with the other group as part of a cultural exchange program of sorts, and this is where the story really lies.

We are drawn to two children as sort of main characters. On the one hand we have Isaacs devoted son Haji, who is a devout Sufi Muslim. On the other we have Penny, one of Vashti's creations who is selfish hungry for attention and power. Beyond them is the only other participating posthuman from the original group, Pandora, who oversees the IVR which Vashti and her children continue to use. No word has been heard from the only other surviving siblings Haloween and Fantasia.

All these elements come together to form a very interesting story told from multiple points of view and yet always as a first-person narrative. I've never been a big fan of first-person narratives since it's a very difficult storytelling format to maintain and more often than not writers tend to fumble with it. And yet Nick Sagan has slipped into the mode very comfortably as if it was the only way to tell stories at all.

Once again the book seems to be very simplistic, especially since a lot of the story is told through the eyes of Haji and Penny. However it's certainly not a young adult novel given the dark themes presented in this tale and the concepts are certainly the kind that make you think a bit more. After all, how would you handle the Herculean task of trying to recreate all of human society? Would you try to make things exactly the same as they used to be? Would you try to make things somehow better? What exactly is "better" given that most of your life was spent in a virtual reality environment? Such are the questions that the book forces you to ponder.

Despite my tendency to predict the end of such stories. I have to admit this book still caught me by surprise with its final twist. Perhaps I just wasn't paying attention to the right clues or something but I still feel the book was well-written enough to be able to genuinely surprise its readers with how the story is going to unfold and resolve itself. That's a rare gift among writers, one that definitely needs to be nourished and supported.

Edenborn is an excellent follow-up to Idlewild and it certainly deserves 4 IVR reconstructed personalities out of a possible 5.

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