TxtingMrDarcy Reads: “Fear is the Cure” Edition

Dark Eden~ Patrick Carman

Book Summary (From Amazon):
When Will Besting approaches Fort Eden for the first time, he knows something isn’t right. With more terrifying secrets at every turn, he discovers a hidden fear deep inside himself, a dark mystery a thousand years in the making, and the unexpected girl of his dreams. But can he save everyone from the dangers of Fort Eden before it’s too late?
Soundtrack: “Pour Some Sugar on Me”~ Tom Cruise

This seems that it would be a logical addition to the mp3 player tucked into Will’s backpack, which featured other classic hits. Plus, Tom Cruise, who would be right at home in the freaky atmosphere of Camp Eden. Because, yanno. Scientology.

Will Besting has been sent to a remote wooded retreat with a group of six other teenagers. All of them have crippling phobias that their therapist has deemed untreatable, and all are willing to take one last chance on a cure. From the moment they’re dropped off in the middle of nowhere, Will’s “spidey sense” kicks in, leading him to abandon the group and run off into the woods.

The story is entirely told from Will’s point of view, as he hangs back and plays observer to the events that transpire at Fort Eden. He manages to sneak into one of the outbuildings, which affords him a unique view of the “cure” process that the other teens are experiencing. What he sees makes him seriously doubt whether they were brought to the isolated fort for their own good, or for some darker purpose.

Oh Dark Eden… you showed such promise. I’d heard good things about you, really. It’s very possible that ANY book that had to follow in the wake of Divergent and Insurgent would prove to be a let-down, but I really had trouble forcing myself to care about any of the characters and the eventual outcome. I almost ended up giving the book a DNF, but figured that it was short enough that I should power through to the conclusion.

In some ways I’m glad that I did that, because there were some unexpected twists that I definitely didn’t see coming. The exploration of the teenage characters, who were basically textbook teen personalities and could easily have been anyone, and their fears was pretty interesting from a psychological point of view. Seeing the correlation between their crippling fears and what had actually CAUSED them as fascinating, and the cure process is truly what kept me turning the pages to the end.

Will’s point of view is extremely clinical and bland, and I had an extremely difficult time getting attached to him as the narrator. His observation of the whole process is dry, and mostly self centered, except for totally random bits of romantic attachment for one of the other characters. I was able to call out one of the novel’s big twists about halfway through, which definitely dialed back some of the emotional impact on that reveal.

I think that Patrick Carman waits a bit too long to spring the “big reveal” on the reader, perhaps leading to the apathy that I felt for the plot itself. Everything is explained in a series of appendices, which are beautifully thought out and contain some stunning symbolism and wonderful literary references. The “good doctor” Rainsford is deliciously twisted, and I would have loved to get a taste of it earlier in the story.

But THEN?! Just as I was willing to finish the story feeling satisfied, guess what Carman had to go do to me?

That’s right, gang. It’s the FIRST OF A SERIES.

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. This book falls squarely in the camp that should NOT be continued in future installments, because we are basically told all that we need to know in the epilogue.

Pet peeve city, up in here.

Two out of Five Cliff Bars.

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