Cover Image: Eden

Eden

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Eden by Tim Lebbon is an eco- horror adventure. The book follows a small group of people as they set out to traverse "Eden" , one of 13 areas of land across the globe that have been " given back to nature" as part of a desperate last ditch attempt to save the planet, and are now off limits to humans. As human nature is always to seek the forbidden , entering these zones has become something of a challenge with various groups competing against one another with ever more dangerous consequences. If they are not caught and arrested at the border, once they enter the zones they are dependent on each other and their skills, the only supplies they have are those that they can carry, and there are no hospitals or rescue teams in case of injury. Sometimes those that enter the zone do not emerge, and this is particularly true of Eden where there have been no successful incursions. Jenn, one of the team members is hiding a secret, her mother Kat entered Eden six weeks ago and has not been heard from since, so for her the stakes are even higher than normal. It soon becomes apparent that something very different is happening in Eden, and as members of the team are picked off one by one, it seems that nature has found a way to have its vengeance. 
This is an action packed adventure with lots of page turning suspense. There is some mild gore but nothing too stomach churning. We are given a little insight into what is really happening in Eden through short excerpts from Kat's perspective , and this was a nice way of breaking up the story while still maintaining tension, 
I read a review copy courtesy of NetGalley and the Publisher, all opinions are my own.
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Is there anything better than a horror novel set in the forest? Yes. A horror novel set in the future where the forest tries to kill anyone that enters! Tim Lebbon has again managed to write a truly captivating and haunting story in a way only he can write. Filled with relatable characters set against the most natural thing ever, namely nature itself.  Written with a cinematic feel that begs of a movie adaptation. If they ever make a movie and stick to the source material, then it will be fantastic.
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Nature has been allowed to reclaim land in the Virgin Zones, places across the world where no human interference can take place. Abandoned by humanity these zones have blossomed with life, but is something else growing in these areas we don't know about? A group of extreme runners are trying to set the record for crossing Eden, the oldest of these zones, in the fastest time possible - but will they be prepared for how Eden plans to slow them down? 

A massive thank you to Titan Books for approving me to read an ARC to read via NetGalley of this new release! Lebbon's concept for this novel is something so original that I had to take a look and see if it lived up to expectations! 

Initially the main character, Jenn, is not my favourite person. We can tell from the start that there is something going on that she hasn't let the others know about and it begins to create tension in the group. As I progressed through the novel she did grow on me but her initial deception made her a bit cold so I could never 100% connect with her. Eventually this book tugged on my heartstrings (no spoilers), it has a strong message of family ties and the lengths we go to for protecting those we love and the initial implementation of the characters was key in this. By introducing the characters all at once we get the feeling that they're just as important as each other and by using the slow developments we form those key bonds with them. I will say it was a little overwhelming to try and remember the characters at the beginning and their connection to each other through this method, but the payoff worked for Lebbon.

Eco-thrillers are becoming more and more pronounced in the publishing world with the unfortunate state of our world (recycle people!) but I have to say that the concept in 'Eden' is something original that cannot be topped. Seeing Lebbon's personal interest in running definitely hits on the 'write what you know' trope you see many writers use. Not being a runner myself some of the mechanics of the story were lost on me and a little confusing, the characters are having heart to hearts whilst running through thick jungle at speed and it doesn't seem plausible for me. 

Joining the two story-lines of Jenn with her team and then Kat was a wonderful technique to keep me interested. Kat's short bursts of narrative built the tension for Jenn's experiences and the more that developed for Jenn I became more on edge with the knowledge gained from Kat's story. 

This is definitely a book I'd recommend for others to read, there is a sense of feeling a little lost to begin with and overwhelmed with a different world but don't worry because all becomes clear!
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With climate change kicking in with a vengeance, sea levels rising, virgin forest such as the Amazon all but destroyed, great islands of plastic refuse floating in the oceans and countless species on the brink of extinction, humanity must take drastic action. So it is that global consent is sought and obtained to set aside Virgin Zones, areas of the planet given back to nature where people are banished from stepping foot. These zones are guarded by an international force of ex-soldiers and mercenaries and while many cases of abuse occur, the world can’t but persevere with the project. 

As with the Chernobyl exclusion zone after the disaster of 1986, the Virgin Zones flourish without people, nature returning ascendant. Again, like Chernobyl, while people aren’t supposed to enter them, they do. It isn't long before a small underground develops of extreme adventurers willing to risk the armed guards to explore inside.

Eden is the oldest of the zones and it is also the wildest. When Dylan leads his tight-knit team of adrenalin seekers, that includes his daughter, Jenn, into the zone, they think that they’re up to the challenge. What they don’t realise is that Eden itself doesn’t want them.

This is an eco-horror with a slight supernatural bent. At one point a character mentions a piece of Jewish folklore. All of creation had been completed, except one corner. God began to create it, but left it unfinished, saying, “Whoever declares himself to be God, let him come and finish this corner, and then all shall know he is a god.” There, in that unfinished corner, demons, winds, earthquakes, and evil spirits dwell. It’s a myth that sums up Eden for where people once did live in the Virgin Zone since it’s abandonment something has emerged and it’s not entirely clear what it is or where it came from. 

I won’t give away much more of the plot, but this is an excellent and very current novel of our times. With people increasingly aware of the impact that we are having on the environment and the climate crisis, there is a sense, rightly or wrongly, that the ecosystem is turning against us. 

While I mainly read crime fiction, I’ve always read a bit of horror, but since coronavirus and lockdown, I’ve started to turn to the genre more and more. I’m not sure why this is, but there is a horror resurgence at the moment, though whether this just coincidentally coincides with Covid-19, I can’t say. Either way, this is my first Tim Lebbon novel, but it will definitely not be my last. 

Creepy and scary, this is an excellent read.

5 out of 5 stars
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Something I did not realise from the cover of this book is that it's actually a thriller/horror. It's not exactly scary, but there are some creepy elements and emotional moments around the last half of the novel.
The book is set in a not-so-distant future where humans have, to put it frankly, ruined the earth. In order for nature to begin to recover, 'Virgin Zones' have been set up - areas where nature is left to thrive, and where it's illegal for any person to enter. But of course, people still do. Some of these people are a particular type of thrill-seekers, racing across these wild zones. Our protagonist, Jenn, is a member of a group of these travellers. Along with her father, boyfriend, and a few other friends, she sets out to cross Eden, the first Virgin Zone, with little more than a compass and some energy bars.
But Jenn another motive, too. Her mother - who left her and her father years ago, and only contacts Jenn to show her the Zones she's crossed - has gone missing. And she was last seen crossing into Eden.
It turns out Jenn isn't the only member of the group with ulterior motives, though. Legends of a mysterious, almost magical orchid have been spreading from various Zones. It's believed that these ghost orchids have healing powers, possibly even immortality. And one of Jenn's companions is hoping to find one.
What he doesn't know is that the orchids are the centre of Eden. The centre of the horror, the fear, everything. And She - the very spirit of nature itself - will do anything to protect them.
The group face numerous hurdles, hunted by beasts working together in unnatural ways. As they find more and more corpses in odd states, their own group begins to dwindle.
I found this really interesting, not least because the whole setting is so plausible. The atmosphere gradually becomes tenser and tenser, as Jenn's hunt for her mother well and truly comes to an end.
While I did enjoy this, I felt something was missing. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but I didn't really click with Jenn, or feel her emotions all that much. 3.5 stars!
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3.5 / 5 ✪

https://arefugefromlife.wordpress.com/2020/06/04/eden-by-tim-lebbon-review/

Global warming and climate change have wrought intense havoc on Earth, spoiling the planet almost beyond recognition. Smog clouds the formerly azure sky. Rivers run brown with sludge, silt chokes the water. The Amazon has been whittled to nothing, the remnants torched. The Arctic is hot and dry, its residents long dead. Pollutants run rampant across the planet. The Earth is dying, but not yet dead. And humanity has killed it. Or, nearly has. In a last-ditch effort to combat the change, the world establishes a number of preserves. Refuges for animals and nature, Virgin Zones are just that; zones dedicated entirely to nature, with no human involvement or activity. Zeds patrol their borders, guarding against incursion in the virgin wilderness. This is humanity’s last hope—and they won’t let anyone screw it up.

Though intended to provide the planet with badly needed air, the Zones draw incursion like dung draws flies. Extreme athletes and adventurers flock to the Zones, eager to prove their mettle at the last challenge the Earth has to offer. They compete in illicit races, tests of endurance and speed, each netting huge rewards on the black market. The Zeds may protect the Zones, but not even they are infallible. With the proper motivation—and for the right price—anyone can enter one of the Zones. But after that, they’re on their own.

The oldest and most famed Virgin Zones, Eden represents the ultimate test of endurance for athletes. It is the Everest of Zones, the Ironman of races, the… you get the idea. Teams will do anything to cross it—or die trying. And yet in the half-century since Eden’s creation, there has never been a successful crossing.

Jenn and her father aim to change that. Just two of the members of one of the most elite adventure race teams on the planet, they represent years of skill and success. A tight knit group of six, they have crossed over half the Virgin Zones—some multiple times—often posting record times in the attempt. For three years the team has considered testing their skills on Eden—now is their chance.

Unlike the other Zones they have crossed, Eden has never conquered. What lurks beyond its borders is shrouded in mystery. The team goes in expecting the unexpected, confident that Eden holds nothing that can defeat them. Yet the Zone may surprise them, because—contrary to their beliefs—Eden is truly wild.

I like a good thriller every now and then, especially one with supernatural elements. Eden provides this and more; an entertaining and fast-paced mystery intertwining with a slowly building horror story rife with primordial glee. While the plot tips its hand early, ruining some of the anticipation, I was still thoroughly absorbed in the story through the halfway mark, when the pace really gets rolling. And when the reason behind Eden’s mystery breaks—the story starts to falter.

The problem with writing the perfect thriller is threefold. It has to be a steady build at first, something to tow the reader along, tempting them with clues to keep them reading, while not doing anything to overt to tip its hand. When it comes to the heart of the mystery and everything breaks loose, it must mix action and suspense in such a way that the pacing neither slows down too much or burns too fast so as to keep the reader’s attention. And then there’s the hook. Something presented in the beginning, something that teases a revelation further on, something juicy enough to keep the reader wondering, wallowing in the mystery and suspense until the realization finally breaks free.

Eden does the first part masterfully well. The mystery and suspense blend superbly beneath the primordial backdrop—an Earth undisturbed by the hands of mankind. The suspense builds slowly as the runners infiltrate Eden, set out across its primeval landscape, slowly creeping closer to the heart of the wild. And then the trap is set: mysterious happenings and clues begin to crop up, making the team question their choice, without overtly scaring them off. I read to the halfway point with little issue, despite the mistake Eden makes early on.

The hook is the first problem. It’s too revealing, too soon. Before this, it’d been revealed that it hadn’t been a fluke that Jenn decided to go to Eden when she did. Her mother—Dylan’s ex-wife—had come here first. She had sent Jenn a photo with a cryptic note, prompting her daughter to follow her. Kat has come to Eden to die, but her reasons are her own. And she’s just far enough ahead of her daughter that the others might not be able to do anything to stop her. We’re given one interlude in Kat’s POV every ten chapters or so. In her first one, she states she’s come to Eden to die, but no more. In the second, she more or less gives away the mystery.

The suspense had been building slowly to this point. I wasn’t sure what was going on in the book, but was keen to find out. The hook—when it came—was too revealing. It gave away the suspense, the mystery, almost the plot. Eden was still a good read after that, until the SHTF moment makes the pacing go sideways. There’s a lot of action, then a break, more action, more break, action-sequence, wait, action, wait, action—in that order. Every now and then, the book tries to reintroduce the mystery, the suspense, but for me that ship had sailed. Since it broke the surprise so early on, there’s nothing to pace the action to the end. It’s just action, and less-actions more-waiting parts. Shockingly, this combination doesn’t blend well. The second half is so strangely paced—it’s almost reason enough to read Eden to see it. The story is still good, however. It kept me reading, entertained me enough to see it through. While the mystery of Eden itself is blown wide-open, some other threads are still up in the air. Characters I’d grown to care about, possible conclusions I’d like to see come to pass. It kept me reading, almost up to the end. It struggles a bit then, as we leave some threads open. I would’ve liked to see a more adequate conclusion, on the whole. Instead the story veers, giving an ending to one of the stories being told. But not the other.

Furthermore, the whole thing has a bit of an After Earth vibe (not the kinda thing any media wants to be compared to) (If you don’t understand that reference, feel free to google it). It comes down to evolution. And leads up to the question—how could something have evolved this quickly? To which the answer is—it really couldn’t’ve. Which kinda kills the premise.

TL;DR

Eden is a thrilling eco-horror novel with some brilliant suspense, but with the added feeling of an After Earth kinda vibe. So as you might expect, I was a little torn. I loved the beginning and the slow build, but thought the author might’ve tipped his hand too early on. This glimpse into the mystery all but killed it, and the suspense, for me at around the 1/5 mark. Moreover, with the jig up, the story gets into it well before it’s ready—at around the halfway point. After that it’s one extended action sequence to the end, which really screws the pacing all to hell. That said, I enjoyed Eden, on the whole. It was a good eco-thriller, despite some outlandish parts. And a decent mystery, despite giving it away too early. I would’ve liked to’ve seen a more thorough ending, but there is AN ending, which I suppose is enough. I left the book having enjoyed my time reading, annoyed though I was about a few pieces of it. I’d recommend Eden, just realize it’s not perfect. But it IS waaay better than After Earth.
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I was really excited to pick this up when I saw that I'd been approved for this! It's a story about climate change and the severe impact it has on humans. There are parts of this world that humans cannot enter, and so 6 individuals who are sports enthusiasts venture into these dangerous parts. I enjoyed the writing, but for most of this book I felt that nothing of substance really happened. There was always an indication of something being out of the ordinary, but it didn't feel important or was even explained. Overall, it was an okay read, but it had so much more potential to be better.
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Another very enjoyable horror, this time ticking off my first eco-horror! Eden combines the dark ecological future of humanity with the beauty and life of nature. 

In Eden, a group of adventure racers are sneaking into a heavily guarded nature zone, an area of Earth where all human prescene has been removed and the area 'given back' to nature, in an attempt to halt or fix the ecological destruction caused by humans. They plan to be the first to race across Eden. But Eden has different plans. Wildlife and nature is different in Eden compared to the other zones they've crossed, and something seems to be hunting them. Only wild animals? Or is it something worse..... (Of course it's something worse). 

I absolutely loved the premise and history of Eden. Each chapter opens with short anecdotes and quotes about the creation and maintenance of these nature zones and the violent mercenaries hired to guard them (Zeds). I thought these added such a sense of history and intrigue to the book. I would love to read a book set several years before Eden, that looks at how humanity went about removing themselves from these areas, and about the formation of the Zeds, the mercenary group, because it sounds like it was a very interesting time.

My biggest problem with this book however is the very detached writing style. Because of this very detached way of saying what's happening, I didn't really feel close to any of the characters. So, similarly to the last horror book I read, Devolution, I really didn't care when the team started dying. And in horror, you really need to give a shit about the characters to be fully sucked into the book and emotionally invested in the deaths. Everything felt like it was happening somewhere else. Plus, none of the characters seem like very nice people which probably didn't help with my attachment to them. 

The descriptions of Eden and the world around them were really lovely though. The style of writing worked much better towards descriptive world building that it did to charachter building. The landscape was very huge and expansive and full of wonder untouched bu humanity. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of these ghost orchids, new, almost magical plants giving life to the horrors of Eden.

All in all, I liked this book and enjoyed another stop of my road of horror exploration, I just wish it had a bit more emotional writing as I found the detached tone worked brilliantly for worldbuilding but not so great for character building.
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In keeping with a lot of recent fiction, there’s a clear environmentalism angle to Eden. If it wasn’t obvious from the description itself, it’s certainly hammered home in an early scene in which the team of adventurers fly low over the landscape, catching glimpses of polluted rivers, trees struggling to survive, and we learn of the other disastrous effects humanity have had on the Earth. From floating garbage islands large enough to harbour pirates and terrorist cells, to refugee camps for the millions displaced by climate change, the team have seen more than their fair share of ecological heartbreak.

Speaking of the team, they represented something extremely rare for me, in that they are all likeable. Every single one of them. Normally when I’m reading something where I know it’s going to get bloody, there are at least a couple of characters who I find myself eagerly anticipating the untimely, gruesome demise of, but not here. They aren’t one dimensional, none of them start shrieking and panicking irritatingly when things get messy, and above all, they just come across as very believable. They’re also a range of ages, which is very refreshing. Little details about them are revealed in a way that feels subtle and organic, and nothing that any of them say that gives us information about themselves or another character ever feels clunky or like obvious exposition. The dialogue between them all is consistently excellent, feeling realistic and genuine, and the way the characters speak to one another is a perfect example of showing not telling. We really get a sense of the sort of people these characters are early on from what they say and how they say it, and there’s a wonderful feeling of camaraderie between them all. The theme of relationships is a prominent one, with the team of seven made up of couples and long-time friends. The group is described as working like a well-oiled machine more than once, despite the high-pressure situations they frequently find themselves in.

Admittedly, these situations are ones that could have been avoided, were it not for their unique hobby, that of racing across areas of the world specifically set aside to be reclaimed by nature. Although they are aware of the fact that they shouldn’t be there, the thrill of the unknown is just too strong a call for them to resist. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Richard from Alex Garland’s The Beach, with his desire to tread where humans hadn’t trodden before (and in fact, aren’t permitted to tread). It’s that dangerous combination of wanderlust, curiosity and entitlement that sees them placing themselves quite willingly in harm’s way, but unlike Richard they have much more in the way of credentials when it comes to surviving in the kind of environment they’re heading into. Well, they think they do at any rate. Because, unfortunately for them, Eden is not like the other Virgin Zones they’ve explored before.

There’s an eeriness to their surroundings as soon as they cross over the boundary, which is made abundantly clear from both the descriptions of the flora and fauna and from the way it unsettles the characters. Thanks to shorter chapters that show what’s happening in other parts of Eden away from the main party, the tension builds steadily as they start to realise that perhaps they shouldn’t have come here after all. There are warning signs early on, which become more overt and disturbing the further the team venture. It’s all highly atmospheric, particularly when they come across those reminders that this is a place that humans occupied decades earlier, with abandoned buildings and equipment being subsumed by the forest in a way that almost feels post-apocalyptic, not to mention spooky. When the tension does finally break, it’s in explosive fashion, with no punches being pulled in terms of the carnage on show. The action is fast, frenetic and stylish, with prose that paints a succession of memorable and vivid images. The moments of calm between these visceral scenes will ensure you’re kept on your toes as much as the characters are too, as Eden increasingly sets its formidable defences against them.

Eden is a masterful slow burn that builds to a thrilling, fast-paced dash. I could happily read more about the world Lebbon has created here, with events that are alluded to having occurred in other Virgin Zones sounding interesting enough to warrant a sequel or prequel all of their own.
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“Humanity will never tire of playing God”

- Pope Benedict XVIII

First things first, thank you Tim Lebbon, Titan Press and Net Galley for allowing me the opportunity to read the ARC of this fantastic novel.

Eden is a Science fiction/documentary/Eco Horror style mash-up. 

I loved how the author had me constantly wondering what was around the corner, I was gripped from the start to the very end.
Mr Lebbon had me on tenterhooks for the majority.

The characters are written well, however my only (very small) criticism would be, I would of liked a bit more detail to develop ‘some’ of the characters back story.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, a horrifying  tale of when nature fights back! 

I would recommend this book not just to fans of the horror genre but to fans of reading in general.

I loved it.
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Author: Tim Lebbon
Publisher: Titan Books
Published: April 7th 2020
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis: From the bestselling author of Netflix's The Silence comes a brand-new horror eco thriller. 

Earth's rising oceans contain enormous islands of refuse, the Amazon rainforest is all-but destroyed, and countless species edge towards extinction. Humanity's last hope to save the planet lies with The Virgin Zones, thirteen vast areas of land off-limits to people and given back to nature.

Dylan leads a clandestine team of adventure racers, including his daughter Jenn, into Eden, the oldest of the Zones. Jenn carries a secret--Kat, Dylan's wife who abandoned them both years ago, has entered Eden ahead of them. Jenn is determined to find her mother, but neither she nor the rest of their tight-knit team are prepared for what confronts them. Nature has returned to Eden in an elemental, primeval way.  And here, nature is no longer humanity's friend.

Thoughts: This book was one that sounded REALLY COOL on paper, but when it came to the crunch fell short of the mark. I read my first “eco-thriller” a few years ago (James Bradley’s Clade for those interested) and it was all kinds of amazing. I expected something similar here, something new and shocking and scary in all the ways it could really happen. Yet something about this one just didn’t work for me. I couldn’t connect with the characters for a start, which always ruins a book for me. Then I couldn’t really get into the idea that these killer plants were living in human-free patches of land like the place “Eden” and NO ONE had noticed them until they were in their with them. Or for that matter that cornering off patches of land on Earth would in fact aid in healing the planet. It all just seemed very unlikely. I feel like it just wasn’t for me.
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"Eden" is a sci-fi/fantasy/horror book that will keep you turning pages long after you should have stopped. The characters are well-rounded and fit well into the plot, which is slightly disturbing. Could it happen? Probably! I can see this being turned into a movie very soon.

My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley/Edelweiss+ for an advance copy to review. This review is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
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Tim Lebanon is one of the few authors who can truly scare me. I read The Silence immediately after reading Josh Mallerman's Birdbox and spent the next week with my eyes closed making no noise. Understandably I was excited when I saw Eden. It does not disappoint. 
I felt like I was part of Eden and that alone is enough to terrify. The world is so wonderfully absorbing that at times it felt like I could fall through the page into it's beautifully dangerous pages.  It really is a must read for any sci-fi/horror fan.
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An eco-horror tale to the core with perfect pacing and tension building in its pages. I loved the progression of this, the introduction of characters I both loved and hated only for them to be picked off by nature’s clutches one by one. A moral lies within and speaks of our own world outside of the book: I would have liked the flora to be a larger part of the threat against our protagonists (it’s mostly fauna) but other than that I really enjoyed this story of reclamation against humanity.
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The premise of this one sounded excellent, and I really wanted to love it, but unfortunately it fell a bit short for me. As other reviewers have said, the first half or so is incredibly slow and I found it very hard to get into the story or care about any of the characters. The writing was a bit too straightforward for my tastes, and I didn't care very much about any of the story elements. I'd be intrigued to read more by this author in the future as the premise was interesting, it's just not what I wanted or expected.
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The future. The environment is destroyed, nature is dying.
The last few thriving zones are closed off from human contact and heavily guarded.
Jenn, along with her father Dylan and the rest of their adventure racers team, set off to "break into" Eden, the one zone that hasn't yet been crossed.
But Jenn has another agenda, apart from being the first one to cross the most dangerous zone, and it is to find Kat, her mother, who is believed to have entered Eden a couple of months earlier.
As soon as the team led by Dylan find their way in, unnoticed by the guards, they sense that this zone is different than the other ones they have crossed.
But little do they know that Eden is not planning to let them out alive.

I was tempted by the future/sci-fi angle to this story, but I went into it without any specific expectations as I haven't read anything by Tim Lebbon before. 
The story, told from a 3rd person perspective, started off really intriguing, and I was excited to delve in.
However, the first half of the book turned out to be so slow that I kept skipping large chunks.
Luckily, the story did pick up halfway through, and from then on, I was hooked and couldn't put it down.
The writing is really descriptive, and despite this usually being a good thing, I found it hindered the action a little.
If the first half of the book was as suspense-packed as the second, I'd give this book 4 stars, but unfortunately, the first part was too slow to warrant the higher rating so it gets 3 stars.
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Since the 1990s Tim Lebbon was been one of the most prolific writers of dark fiction, comfortably moving between fantasy, science fiction and horror and it was great to see his outstanding 2015 novel The Silence recently adapted into a decent Netflix film. His back-catalogue is huge, ranging from film novelisations, others connected to franchises, but his best are those when he runs with his own ideas and stories, with Echo City being a personal favourite. Lebbon maintains that high standard with his latest work, Eden, which again blends genres, this time with a strong environmental theme backing up a very entertaining survival story. 

These days there are many eco-thrillers on the market and it is can be very easy to fall into the trap of writing yet another novel about global warming, rising tides and temperatures, with the end result being neither fresh or original. Although Eden falls into this literary ballpark, Lebbon wisely avoids these pitfalls by giving us very little background information, forcing the reader to join many of the rather enticing dots. All we know is that it is set sometime in the near future where mankind does indeed suffer from these types of problems, but the story does not dwell on them in the slightest. Every chapter has a very clever (and insightful) quote or anecdote which helps paint the bigger picture, from organisations such as United Zone Council and the Green World Alliance, in addition there are quotes from bloggers, soldiers and anonymous sources. All of which, combined, at the start of every chapter drip feed to the reader information about the troubled current state of the world.

The action opens with a group of adventurers about to enter Eden, which is one of thirteen Virgin Zones which have been created across the world to allow nature to thrive and regroup. People have not been allowed to enter any of these massive thirteen Zones for over fifty years, although adventurers are frequently smuggled into them to either steal wildlife, get their kicks or break a travel record set by a rival extreme-sport group. The Zones are guarded by soldiers who use deadly force to defend them from infiltrators. In these areas everything has been totally reclaimed by nature, which thrives without the interference of mankind, with many of the population itching for a look at one of these mysterious locations.

Eden is the oldest of the Virgin Zones and is trickiest to gain access to and travel across, amongst the secret world of thrill-seeking conquering Eden would be the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest back in the 1950s. Dylan leads a team of adventurers into Eden and intends to cross it with the minimum of equipment, before being met at the other side and smuggled out to safety with bragging rights in the adventure community. Surprise, surprise, things do not go to plan and there is something very nasty in the forest.

Once the novel started to move through the gears, I began to find myself marvelling at the descriptions of the wildlife, the forests and especially the remnants of mankind which has been completely reclaimed by nature in the passing fifty years. When I was a kid in the mid-1980s, in the north of Scotland, we lived close to a ruined mansion called Lessendrum House, which had a rarely used road leading to it and was off the beaten track. At some point this road fell into disuse and when my family revisited five years ago whilst on holiday, you would never have known there was ever a road in the first place, and the house itself was unrecognisable from three decades earlier. So, Tim Lebbon calls it correct, in fifty years nature would reclaim everything as it does in Eden. 

This was a beautifully described book, which was perfected paced, even though it took its time getting going, allow yourself to be swept along into the atmospheric and eventually threatening location. Written in the third person, Dylan is the senior member of the group, accompanied by his partner Selina, daughter Jenn and the remainder of the group Cove, Aaron, and Lucy. Although they are all nice enough characters, many of which have their own motives, you might not cry too much as their number’s dwindle. Some readers might think they have it coming as nature takes its revenge. However, Lebbon also does a fine job of painting a picture of why these guys are into this type of ‘extreme’ past-time, even if it is misguided. 

You could argue that much of this novel is speculative rather than science fiction, as perhaps in the future locations such as this might really exist. Although there is something nasty out there, in many ways, nature is the true beast and there are some excellent action sequences in the final third which are well worth waiting for with nature the true threat. The build-up is equally intense, it reminded me slightly of the 1980s action classic Predator, where the soldiers were aware of the camouflaged creature, when they could feel it was there, but could not see it. This book tapped into the same type of primeval fear. 

Eden was an easy book to get sucked into and before long the atmosphere is so thick you will be hearing the cockatoos squawking in the night as you are dragged into this threatening Virgin Zone. This was an intelligent genre-bending story which did not overdo the supernatural elements and finely balanced this with the power of nature and the respect it needs to be given. Recommended.
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I am a huge Lebbon fan.  The Expanse series is an extraordinary feat of science fiction so I was chomping at the bit to read Eden.

Lebbon's strengths are character and worldbuilding - and he is a plot master- all of which were in evidence as I read Eden.

However, and I'm well aware that this is a proof copy so final edits may not be quite finished, I was a wee bit disappointed.

I often felt that I was in a romance novel - lots of erroneous details about who loved who and what strong women they all were and almost falling into woke stereotypes which, if you read my other reviews is something I dislike intensely.  I don't enjoy being patronised as a woman.

Endless descriptions of the forest and strange beasts which are detailed and vivid - as were the fascinating insights into ultra-marathon runners - the uber-fit elite - and how they bond and set up explorations.

Or at least the initial descriptions were.  After pages and pages or running for several hours, feeling creeped out by the forest and discovering corpses that are being reclaimed by Eden itself - I was losing interest - and for one of the only times in my reading history - I DNF and gave up at 80%.  

I wanted to love this so much and still think Tim is a fabulous writer & will keep him in my top 10 Sci-Fi novelists for all time but this wasn't for me.   I expect that I'll be in the minority, and huge swathes of readers will love it, and that's how it should be.

Many thanks to Titan books, Tim and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book honestly and without payment.
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Tim Lebbon is in top form with this fast-paced eco-horror novel that sees a group of adventurers fighting nature - literally - after heading into a remote nature reserve (or Virgin Zone) known as Eden.
While not the first book to tackle the 'nature fights back' theme, it's one of the best examples of the genre - with an action packed narrative and some chilling threats of the flora and fauna variety.
Lebbon shows an apt touch at writing action sequences, while his horror roots are on full show as the group begin to meet their demise.
Given the coronavirus lockdown across nations - and with parks and reserves shut in many places - it's not hard to imagine nature seeking to reclaim its place - making this a timely and even more chilling release.
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In a time unprecedented (even by the conspiracy theorists) a book that actually made me feel even worse about my life and the world I live in, thank you sir
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