Review: After Eden by Helen Douglas

Friday, November 29, 2013

After Eden (After Eden, #1)
Title: After Eden (After Eden #1)
Author: Helen Douglas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Date of Publication: November 5 (USA) | November 7, 2013 (UK)

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.


My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Bloomsbury UK/ANZ and NetGalley for the review copy! This in no way affected my views of the novel.

Scene: My self-imposed deadline for finishing this book is November 28. I have a new adult book I have to finish by November 26. But since I wasn't in the mood for NA, I started this November 24 even though it's shouldn't be my priority because YA + time travel + romance = UHM, HECK YEAH. And then I couldn't stop reading that I ended up staying up until 2AM of (technically) November 26. I had work and classes and all that stuff but still, I couldn't not finish it. That was how  engrossed I was with AFTER EDEN.

AFTER EDEN has a common time travel trope, the new mysterious guy who takes an interest on our "average" or shy heroine, who in truth is a guy from the future tasked to edit the timeline. In a small quiet town in England, Ryan, our new guy, transfers schools. He's hot and all that but he doesn't know what pizza is. Or who Hitler was. Red flags raise on Eden's mind but she can't help but be intrigued with this guy (and eventually, like) who takes an interest in her as well.

Truth be told, I didn't read the synopsis much before I read this book so I was eager to know what Ryan's mission was. So when that bit came, I was so interested because the pro-environment advocacy really shined through and I love that. Moreover, the science behind the time travel in this, while not fully explained, was correct and that's always a plus.

However, as engaged as I was with AFTER EDEN, I didn't really feel so invested in the characters or in the story. It's as if I was just reading about them and not living with them, which is my usual indication if I really like a novel. I think Eden didn't shine as a character and neither did Ryan. He was a cardboard mysterious hot new guy and Eden was kind of passive most of the novel. Well, I can't blame her as that's her personality. But when she started getting into Ryan's mission and became pro-active in everything, I think it became much much more interesting and I got invested in the whole shebang.

Like some reviewers observed, while the romance was sweet, it didn't feel epic which is kind of how time travel romances go. Maybe it's because the characters weren't that memorable for me or that their ordeals and the bittersweet factor were downplayed in my opinion. Because yes, by the end, deus ex machina! I think I would have preferred the ending be bittersweet because it would have worked perfectly well. Although I would end up with a broken heart at 2AM, not everything must end up happily. So I ended up rolling my eyes a bit at the end. But whatever, right? ALL FOR LOVE. I'm also all for love. I admit to feeling giddy though at the last scene. What? I'm still a romance-loving girl!

Still, After Eden was a sweet time travel romance with a strong environmental advocacy. It's not preachy though so no worries! Will I read the sequel? Of course! Although I didn't feel much for this book, I am still interested in what happens next. What are the repercussions of Ryan's actions? Will their love survive all the odds? Eeepp! I'm getting excited already! Love against time will forever be my favorite.

About Helen Douglas

Helen Douglas graduated from the LSE with a degree in economic history. After a stint as a subeditor in London, she moved to California, where she worked as a theatre director, then as an English teacher. A keen stargazer, one of her first memories is of getting up in the middle of the night to sneak outside and watch the Perseid meteor shower with a friend. It was a telescope that she received as a birthday gift that helped inspire EDEN. She now lives in Cornwall with her husband and children.

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