After Eden by Helen Douglas
Series: After Eden #1
Published by Bloomsbury on November 5th, 2013
Shelve It: Goodreads
Eden Anfield loves puzzles, so when mysterious new boy Ryan Westland shows up at her school she’s hooked. On the face of it, he’s a typical American teenager. So why doesn’t he recognize pizza? And how come he hasn’t heard of Hitler? What puzzles Eden the most, however, is the interest he’s taking in her.
As Eden starts to fall in love with Ryan, she begins to unravel his secret. Her breakthrough comes one rainy afternoon when she stumbles across a book in Ryan’s bedroom – a biography of her best friend – written over fifty years in the future. Confronting Ryan, she discovers that he is there with one unbelievably important purpose … and she might just have destroyed his only chance of success.
Written as a contemporary romance with a sci-fi setting, After Eden was a quick and enjoyable read. The romance wasn’t earth-shattering, the writing wasn’t award-winning and the plot wasn’t even that exciting, but it was enjoyable.
One of the biggest things After Eden had going for it was the mystery surrounding newcomer, Ryan. Unfortunately for After Eden, Ryan’s identity as a time-traveller was revealed in the blurb! With the entirety of the plot already mapped out in the blurb, After Eden lost the chance to be ambiguous and enigmatic; it lost the chance to keep me in suspense as I tried to discover the reason behind Ryan’s strangeness. So, with little else to reveal in terms of plot development, After Eden relied quite heavily on its characters.
While not particularly memorable, Eden was a decent protagonist. Most of her choices were sensible and mature, and I often found myself agreeing with her actions. I even found myself relating to her knowledge that she wasn’t particularly remarkable:
I knew no colourful characters, had never been anywhere exotic and courage was something I lacked. As I sat there in the armchair in Mrs. Mingle’s office, I had a dawning realization that if I didn’t stat to think about my future, my life story would end up like a half-empty notebook, blank page after blank page, interrupted only by an occasional shopping list or note for the window cleaner.
Her adamant refusal to see that Connor liked her as more than a friend was something that got slightly tiring, but I appreciated how much she valued their friendship. Her relationship with Ryan developed quickly, with her jealousy being the only thing that kept them apart for as long as they were. As for Ryan, he was was perfect. Literally. Other than being ignorant to pizza and Hitler, Ryan was the guy every girl wanted (of course), but who only had eyes for the slightly bland protagonist (of course), for reasons. Connor was an awful best friend, spending most of his time with Eden chastising her for being friends with Ryan. If Eden didn’t want to believe Connor was upset because he was jealous, she should have called him on being such an asshole for no reason. As for the other characters? I don’t even remember them. So there’s that.
Fortunately, I didn’t feel the need to connect with the characters on a deep, emotional level, as After Eden was such a light, fluffy read. I thought the romance developed somewhat realistically, even though both Ryan and Eden’s feelings were quite strong. I did have a hard time believing Ryan would jeopardize the future of the human race for a girl he’d only known for a few weeks, but the urgency of his situation wasn’t stressed so I didn’t worry about it too much. I think that’s probably why I was able to enjoy After Eden; there was no real sense of urgency.
With the time travel elements taking a back seat to the romance between Eden and Ryan, very little attention given to the mechanics of time travel, and the occasional interesting point picked up only to be dropped without serious consideration, After Eden was not written with science fiction buffs in mind. If you’re looking for a little fluff, with some light SciFi elements however, then After Eden might be just what you need!