Book review: Eden by Tim Lebbon

Title: Eden by Tim Lebbon

Publisher: Titan Books

Publication date: 7 April 2020

Genre: Horror | Adult

Page extent: 384 pages


Goodreads blurb: From the bestselling author of The Silence comes a brand-new supernatural eco thriller. In large areas of the planet, nature is no longer humanity’s friend…

In a time of global warming and spiralling damage to the environment, the Virgin Zones were established to help combat the change.  Abandoned by humanity and given back to nature, these vast areas in a dozen remote locations across the planet were intended to become the lungs of the world. 

But there are always those drawn to such places.  Extreme sports enthusiasts and adventure racing teams target the dangerous, sometimes deadly zones for illicit races.  Only the hardiest and most experienced dare undertake these expeditions. When one such team enters the oldest Zone, Eden, they aren’t prepared for what confronts them.  Nature has returned to Eden in an elemental, primeval way.  And here, nature is no longer humanity’s friend.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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 presence 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 huge and expansive and full of wonder untouched by 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 on my road of horror exploration. I just wish it was written with a bit more emotion as I found the detached tone worked brilliantly for worldbuilding but not so great for character building.