Mother of Eden – Chris Beckett

About the Book

“We speak of a mother’s love, but we forget her power.”
Civilization has come to the alien, sunless planet its inhabitants call Eden.

Just a few generations ago, the planet’s five hundred inhabitants huddled together in the light and warmth of the Forest’s lantern trees, afraid to venture out into the cold darkness around them.

Now, humanity has spread across Eden, and two kingdoms have emerged. Both are sustained by violence and dominated by men – and both claim to be the favored children of Gela, the woman who came to Eden long ago on a boat that could cross the stars, and became the mother of them all.

When young Starlight Brooking meets a handsome and powerful man from across Worldpool, she believes he will offer an outlet for her ambition and energy. But she has no inkling that she will become a stand-in for Gela herself, and wear Gela’s fabled ring on her own finger—or that in this role, powerful and powerless all at once, she will try to change the course of Eden’s history.

480 pages (paperback)
Published on May 12, 2015
Published by Broadway Books
Author’s webpage
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This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.

I absolutely loved Dark Eden, the first book in this series. Mother of Eden showed up just days after I finished Dark Eden. I was elated. The first book impressed me so much I was beyond thrilled to start book two. I didn’t even read the synopsis. I just jumped right in.

Mother of Eden is different than Dark Eden. Beckett could have continued the story right where Dark Eden left off, but he decided to jump into the future quite a way and explore what happened with society and culture after Dark Eden ended. This is both good and bad. I think there was a lot of room for Beckett to continue the story after Dark Eden left off. However, I think that jumping into the future the way he did gave him more fertile storytelling ground. In the end, I think his move paid off.

Mother of Eden is told from mostly a female point of view, and in large part it is the story of women in this world after all that happened before, which ended up permanently changing civilization.

One thing that Beckett seems to do really well is explore how certain decisions and cultural norms impact the lives of those living in those cultures. This often includes an interesting view of the evolution of said culture and its traditions. In Dark Eden, this was done with some subtlety, but in Mother of Eden, things have moved to a point where subtlety really can’t be an issue anymore. The things that are happening are in-your-face, like the status of women, and the status of those with “batfaces.” It’s a world of stark contrasts, and revolutionary ideas.

For example, the concept of money is starting to be important. Before goods were bartered, traded, or just made, but now there are markets, and money is used. It’s new, but it’s interesting to see how Beckett deftly explores in a quick, almost quiet way, how money impacts the cultures where it is being used. Another example is New Earth, an emerging kingdom (of sorts) which shows the start of the feudal system, territories, and indentured servitude.

Social classes are emerging. There are the rich and the poor, the well off and the subservient and into all of this is Starlight, a woman who agrees to become the “housewoman” of Greenstone, the son of the leader of New Earth. Starlight is from a more tribal, more “Dark Eden” feeling group of individuals, and being dumped into the middle of such a complex social structure with such foreign (to her) views on women, society, and life in general.

Thing are not what she expects them to be. She thinks that New Earth will be some sort of haven, a perfect utopia, but the reality is far different than her imaginings. She does the best she can to make it work, but the power she is given and the reality of where she is living makes that quite hard. It’s a completely different world than the world that John was living in in Dark Eden, and that’s half the appeal. Beckett does a great job at exploring just how the world would change after one man like John dared to explore, venture forth, and challenge it all.

Some things go wrong, and some things go right.

It’s really well done, perhaps not quite as well done as Dark Eden, but no less captivating or thought provoking. Starlight is a fantastic character to follow. Her struggle to give a voice to women, help the Small People is admirable, but it’s also obvious that she’s one woman in a society where women really aren’t much, and often it feels like she’s banging her head against the wall. But that’s relatable, especially in the context of where she’s living and the cultural norms that surround her.

Mother of Eden is rather interesting, because it is told from primarily female perspectives, where Dark Eden felt like it was told from mostly male perspectives. It’s really nice to see how women live in a world that is obviously turning into a man’s haven (in some ways). It’s also obvious that Beckett did his research and gave his female characters lots of thought because they are very, very realistic. Sometimes they frustrated me, and sometimes they pleased me, but there wasn’t ever a point where I thought that they were unbelievable or unrealistic.

My biggest issue with the book was the ending. There are numerous jumps in time, and a lot of important things that don’t really happen on the stage, but are referenced. Conclusions are drawn, and everything felt a bit rushed. It was a rather jarring change of pace, because up to that point, Beckett has done a wonderful job at keeping his readers in the know regarding important events. Some characters were dropped and only mentioned in passing in the Afterward, leaving me wondering what happened. It was a frustrating, rough ending and it left me wanting.

However, despite that, Mother of Eden was a good read. It wasn’t as good as Dark Eden, but it was still interesting and very well done. Beckett has a way with writing a captivating story with characters that will grab you instantly. I just wish the ending had been a bit more fulfilling, a little less messy.


4/5 stars

One Responses

  • I loved Dark Eden too! I haven’t read Mother of Eden yet, but I was a little disappointed when I heard the sequel was going to take place further in the future. I thought the ending of Dark was great, and perfect as a stand alone, but I would have loved to learn of John and Tina more. I think Beckett could have easily continued their story.

    Pretty much all the reviews for Mother have said it was still a really good book, but just not as good as Dark. I’m still going to read Mother. I loved Dark way too much not to 🙂

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