Daughter of Eden by Chris Beckett (2016) 394 p.

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Following on from Mother of Eden, Daughter of Eden takes place in the same rough timeframe, which is a bit disappointing – I would have liked to see it jump another few centuries into the future of this sad and twisted society, as Mother of Eden did after Dark Eden. The Eden stories are not so much about what happens, but rather what happens next – and I’d prefer to have seen the continued growth and development of Eden society – a bunch of paleolithic inbred descendants of two stranded astronauts on a dark, bizarre alien world – rather than the political fallout between the Johnfolk and the Davidfolk following on from a character’s actions in the last book.

On reflection, Mother of Eden and Daughter of Eden could (and should) have been one book; and I’m not sure either of them quite lives up to the brilliant, tightly-plotted standards of the first book in the trilogy, Dark Eden. All three books are very much about the power of stories and mythology and belief, but in both Mother and Daughter it often feels Beckett is retreading ground he’s already passed over. They’re good themes, expressed well, but both books suffer from a bloat which I don’t think Dark Eden ever did, and could have used much tighter editing.

Nonetheless – and without spoilers – it’s fair to say that any reader will want to keep reading, to see what happens next, and also because the whole set-up of the Eden books, from the very beginning, has a will it/won’t it Schroedinger’s World situation going on. I said in my review of Mother of Eden that I’d like to see a Lord of the Flies or Apocalypto style ending to the story. What happens in Daughter of Eden is not what I expected to see, but I was surprised and impressed by how Beckett handled that aspect of the story.

Whether he sticks the landing or not is debatable. But I can definitely say that Daughter of Eden was intriguing, and compulsively readable, and very enjoyable. If you read and enjoyed Dark Eden – which I believe is one of the most underrated sci-fi books of the last decade – then the rest of the trilogy is most definitely worth reading

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