Title & Author: Transition to Eden (Eden Series, Volume 1), S. M. Ferrin

Genre & Publication Date: YA Fantasy, February 2, 2015

Book Description: “In a blink of an eye, Survine Fata’s typical teenage existence takes a dive when an overly protective bodyguard shows up to claim custody of her life, turning her once peaceful home into a prison. As one of the accursed, Astrum Tutoris is hell bent on fulfilling his contractual obligation and obtaining freedom, and to do this, Survine must make transition, whether she likes it or not. Survine’s inheritance puts her at the center of an unseen world afflicted with deranged demons and Walkers, all who hunt the power of Eden—her power. Exposed by an invasive link, Survine can’t eat, sneeze, or even feel, without Astrum knowing. Forced to team up with her temperamental guardian in a deceptive game of survival, Survine is caught in a whirlwind of unwanted passions for a man whose motives are purely self-seeking. In learning to harness the power of Eden, Survine fights to stay alive, maintain her sanity, and preserve her heart, while uncovering the strange truth— WHO HOLDS THE KEY TO THE GATES OF EDEN?”

First Line: A faint mountain breeze rustled the aspen trees, speckling the trail yellow.

My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.

While the idea behind this book is an interesting one, the execution fell short of its mark and in its current state feels much more like an early draft than a finished novel. Stilted, overly dramatic dialogue and dialogue tags, major grammatical issues, constant head hopping and a heroine that had neither a character arc, or much charm for that matter, made the read unejoyable for me.

Survine, our protagonist, is soon to come in to powers that she knows nothing about, but which both celestial and demonic forces have a stake in. Enter Astrum, the fallen angel who, by obligation and for personal reasons, has come to protect her until she can harness these powers safely on her own.

The first half of the book read more like teenage soap opera than Fantasy, replete with a mysterious, good looking new guy (the fallen angel), high-school angst and a big dance to top it off. This may have been interesting except that all of the intended tension was predicated on keeping Survine in the dark on important details to do with her future and powers. I kept asking myself, “Hey, wouldn’t this be easier if everyone told her what in-the-name-of-Frodo-Baggins is going on?” This drained most of my anticipation because the reasons behind why her protector and her adopted father played it this way weren’t really solid.

This leads me to a couple of things surrounding Survine that troubled me. The first, Survine’s adopted father often called her “Surly” as a nickname. Aside from the fact that “Surly” as a nickname for a girl tends to delegitimize very real feelings of anger in an incredibly condescending way (much like calling a woman’s mood “emotional” or “hysterical”–but I’ll keep myself from getting derailed on that loaded topic), it might only have been endearing if it wasn’t a 100% accurate description of her personality. Survine was pissed off for 90% of the book, flush with overreactions and a snarky attitude in general. It became predictable. It never felt like she took a breath for consideration or forethought. Sure, this is a YA so maybe that’s the teenage mindset, but Lord knows they aren’t usually that way with everyone all the time, right?

It also made her look incredibly superficial and, well, stupid, that she still mooned over a guy that she admittedly hated in most scenes and who acted like a complete a-hole most of the time (I’m being very kind here. Oftentimes he was pretty much abusive, which made her attraction to him, regardless of his secret feelings for her, seem like an ugly message to convey to young women who might read this.).

Wouldn’t the good looks start to tarnish after a while? We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Someone with striking good looks starts to become sorta ugly if their personality sucks. I’m sure Katie Holmes can back me up on this one.

The action does pick up in the second half of the book, however throughout there was a tendency to reach for complicated words when simpler ones would’ve been more effective. As a former academic, I find a wide vocabulary admirable, but certain words had the smell of an open thesaurus beside the keyboard during the drafting stage. I think I officially know every word to describe the color of green eyes that the English language has to offer.

The Magical: The original premise and the different kinds of angels and demons, their ways and their politics, were interesting and I wanted to learn more about them.

The Mundane: Beyond what I’ve already said, one thing that made me claw the walls was the phonetically written dialogue for Tamil, who was Irish I believe.

An example: “Nah, dere be no reservations, boot Oey’ve a feelin’ soomeone’s coomin.”

Long ago this method of writing accents was popular in fiction, which is why a lot of classics have it, but it’s pretty much gone the way of the dodo in modern fiction. Why? Because it makes the reader, at least this one, somewhat homicidal. This was not a side character, and as interesting of a person as he might be, I was rooting for a sudden and untimely demise, or some subtitles, just to avoid slogging through it.

I’m sure the author was just trying to be authentic but in these scenarios it’s recommended to either describe the accent or hint at it through the use of dialect so the reader can overlay the intended sound as they read the lines. Reading “Oey’ve” instead of “I’ve” so many times became painful.

Summary of Thoughts: Completing a novel length project requires a lot of work and dedication, and so I hate to give this one such a low rating. I also think honesty is important though and, in the end, more helpful to everyone. My opinion is that this work was published too soon. The idea has promise but needs much more revision, as well as assistance from a strong copy editor and development editor to help it to realize its potential.

1 Star rating

Many thanks to author S. M. Ferrin for providing a copy of the book to review.

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