Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Fall of Eden: A Review

The Fall of Eden is listed as being written by Richard Michaels, but according to Amazon, this actually a pseudonym for a New York Times bestselling author who lives and works in Orlando, Florida.   The book appears to be influenced by Luke Rhinehart’s (George Cockcroft’s)  Long Voyage Back which we discussed ealier.  Both have nuclear strikes in the early in the novel, and both have North Americans setting off for the perceived sanctuary of the Southern Hemisphere in sailing craft.

In Fall of Eden, unfortunately there is not all that much boating.  The two brothers have come to the Caribbean island of Saint Bart’s to collect their crazy father.  The nukes are going off pretty much as they are landing; which they figure out when their cell phones stop working.  Most of the time is spent in a high rise hotel, holed up with the staff and using a cache of guns that there nutty (and dangerous) grandfather has on hand to fend off competing survivor groups.  Boating factors in, but it is not a story of life at sea.
It is rare to have a book such unlikeable protagonists.  One brother, Charles, a college professor, is there with his wife and two children.  He may be the weakest whiniest lead characters I have seen since Holden Caulfield's Catcher in the Rye.  Pick a “why can’t we all get along” type argument, and Charles is probably makes it at some point in the book.  His brother Dan, a macho military type, is actually worse.  He has a Barbie doll wife, and likes to use violence to take what he needs from others:  while somehow maintaining the illusion of the moral high ground. 
The bocks summary description describes it as Lord of the Flies comes to Club Med.  It seems more like a story of  sniveling self entitled varieties of the American middle class that cannot get along on a Gilligan’s Island gone bad.  Presumably the hotel staff puts up with them because they have grandpa’s guns.  The staff is not as evil and violent as the “heroes” and thus are reluctant to kill them out of hand:  which is what the "heroes" deserve.
The action is passable, leaning heavily toward the cinematic.  The author seems to be confusing a Barrett Sniper Rifle with a .50 cal heavy machine gun.  Talking about overkill: regardless of which one is actually there.
There are some interesting issues brought up and addressed about survival on these islands.  These are some of the stronger points to the book.  The need for specific skill sets is also an important issue.  As the violence level goes up, the need for an alert defense and the problems of limited information are well portrayed.
The book ends at a transition point.  It leaves open the possibility of a second book, possibly one with more involvement in the open ocean.  By the very end of the novel, the situation  has been straightened itself out to where there might be some interesting adventuring on the sea.  Which is where the novel should have been about a third of the way through. 

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