Eden Book 1 is Page-Turning Junk Food

EDEN BOOK 1 (2012)
By David Holley
Misery Loves Company Publishing
* *

I won’t mince words–Eden Book 1 is an awkward, clunky book, even by the relatively low standards of pulp science fiction. First-time novelist David Holley comes from a background in advertising and graffiti art, both of which influence this book. Like advertising, Holley piggybacks on what is hot rather than substantive. He rides current waves of cynicism through his post-apocalyptic, dystopian setting, and gloms onto contemporary trends such as glamorizing soldier-warriors, engaging in disaster-of-the-day reporting, and sticking zombies into every narrative. Like graffiti art, much of Holley’s intent is internal and enigmatic for those living outside his vision. (Did you ever try to decipher a tagged wall?) For all of that, his book is a page-turner—more accurately a screen-flipper as it’s an e-book­–that one zips through. If you’re looking for a trashy, thrill-a-minute bit of beach reading, this one won’t tax your intellect.

The year is 2022 and the United States has been wiped off the map, weakened by wars against Muslim terrorists, and then leveled by volcanic eruptions and tsunamis off the West Coat. Okay—we already have a problem. Holley simply states the devastation without explaining how ocean waters managed to traverse the Coastal Range, the Sierra Nevadas, and the Rockies! If tsunamis also formed on the Atlantic and caused seas to rise, why does Britain still exist? He needs to explain that because the major protagonists of his book are British, former Special Forces officer Noah Lockhart and his medical researcher wife, Evelyn.

The set up is that the Muslim uprising has just been defeated, but it cost Noah most of his unit. He is burnt out, resigns his commission, and decides to reconnect with Evelyn by taking a four-hour space shuttle flight to New Zealand for some much needed detox time. En route, the shuttle is sabotaged by an onboard terrorist and the shuttle breaks into sections and plummets to earth. The Lockharts are part of a small survivor group that manages to board rafts and make their way to some remote, uninhabited part of the South Island of New Zealand. All of Noah’s survival skills will be put to test as he tries to captain his intrepid band across mountains and ravines and through thick bush to civilization. Other major players include 18-year-old twins Max and Mia, and a Japanese couple, Hiroshi and Luna, whose daughter died in the shuttle’s impact. Did I mention that Mia is clairvoyant, or that Noah just happened to grab all manner of equipment, food, and spices (!) before the shuttle crashed? Good thing about the spices—just the sort of thing one needs when one is sautéing grubs. Noah’s backpack is the equivalent of Captain Kangaroo’s pockets—there always seems to be duct tape, a bit of rope, or some sustaining cashews at just the right moment.

Gilligan’s Island this isn’t. In their quest to survive, our crew will encounter obstacles such as another tsunami, a volcano about to explode, several Maori of questionable character, a pandemic, and, of course, some zombies. The book fails on three basic levels: plot, plausibility, and prose. If you think Dan Brown stretches logic, wait until you wend your way through Holley. His book is stuffed with more coincidences than a sophomore explaining why his research paper isn’t finished. It would be fair to say that the only consistent narrative device at work is convenience. There are also gag-me purple passages throughout the book, including (seriously) references to Noah’s “thick manhood.”

I will not deny that Eden Book 1 is a breezy read with entertaining moments, nor that I soared through it. (I had just finished a far weightier book and was looking for just such a diversion.) The book is offered for $3.99 on Amazon. That’s about $3 too high in my view, but as long as you know this book is not The Road and David Holley is no Cormac McCarthy, you can devour it as you might processed snack food. I don’t regret having read it, but neither will I indulge in forthcoming sequels. –Rob Weir

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