Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Review: Eden West by Janelle Stalder

I'm just a lucky, lucky gal!  I know sometimes it seems that I squeal on and on about how good the books I've been reading are, but its just simply that I  have encountered so many amazing storytellers of late.  And that makes for one very happy reviewer!  So, I'm going to cut to the chase and try a new format for my reviews by giving you the rating first:

There.  I said it.  Yup.  This is an amazing, amazing, get-it-now read!  As this is book 2 in the series, if you haven't read book 1, Eden (see my review here), download both books, put some pb&j out for the kids and lock yourself in your room.  You're not going to want to come out until every last word is read.  Find these books at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles and Smashwords.  Don't forget to add them to your Goodreads TBR, too!

New beginnings, new conflicts, and new adventures arise in the second installment of the Eden Series, Eden-West.

Months after his initial journey to Eden, Aiden is learning to cope with his own transformation. His social status has changed, his friendship with his best friend Ethan is in jeopardy because of it, and worst of all, he has heard absolutely nothing from his new friends in Eden. What has become of the world he fell in love with? Are his friends safe? Is the war over? With no answers, and no hope for contact, Aiden decides to focus on his life in his world.

Just as he makes this decision, he encounters a familiar bright light and thinks he knows exactly what it means. Except the light isn’t at all what he expects and neither is the person behind it. When Aiden returns to Eden, it is to a whole new part of that special world, and a whole new set of adventures.

Weeks after Aiden was returned to his own world, Elisa is sent to Nysa, the revered Southern city, to retrieve the one thing she’d rather avoid – Wolf. Captain Turk instructed her to get in and get out - but that is easier said than done. When she finds her missing friend, she also stumbles upon a great deal of trouble. This trouble goes by one name – Markus, the leader of the Sun People.

Follow all your favourite characters as they ready themselves for battle and fight for a world threatened to be destroyed.

Genre:  YA (but really all ages) Fantasy
Publisher Type: Indie
My Rating:  *  *  *  *  *

My Review:
The hard thing about writing reviews of subsequent books in a series is that you tend to repeat yourself a lot.  Just like in book 1, I can tell you that Ms. Stalder has an amazing gift for writing extremely complex characters with complicated relationships.  I love that the protagonists and antagonists alike are dimensional and not purely good or evil.  One of my favorite characters, Callum, is technically a "bad guy."  Rose puts it best, "War was never an easy thing to deal with, and everything about this war appalled her.  Yet she considered Brutus one of her most trusted friends.  Sometimes the world was so filled with shades of grey, it was hard to believe there was ever such a thing as pure black and white."  The lack of a clear black and white is one of the things that make this such an intelligent and engaging novel.

I was also impressed by the way the author was able to weave in "reminder hints" of book 1 throughout the first part of Eden West.  There's a temptation for an author to either jump right into the story (which only works if the reader just finished the last book) or to provide an information dump within the first few pages to catch the reader back up.  Ms. Stalder was able to gently insert subtle hints throughout the first part of the story that had me remembering details and events without feeling like I had to skim through a synopsis of the previous book. 

Eden West differs greatly from the first book as our main characters are separated and very much unaware of what is happening to the others.  Story lines are perfectly layered upon one another, taking us from event to event, from perspective to perspective, masterfully building the plot and creating crazy amounts of suspense.  I absolutely love the way the story unfolds!!!  

As the novel concludes, we have enough closure of the main conflict to feel satisfied, but there's some major cliff hangers, both in the romance and action.  My only complaint is how am I supposed to wait to find out what happens?!?!  Yikes!  I'm not sure I can stand it!!!

Cover Art:
I have a thing for cover continuity throughout a series.  This is a great example of how to do that right.  Much like book 1, I'm torn between loving the simple, crisp design that utilizes an important symbol from the book and being disappointed that the covers don't show off the crazy creativity of the story within.  Overall the cover style is growing on me and I, as always, do love the polished look!


  1. LOL Danielle! You really know how to intrigue a girl ;)
    Which genre would you put this in? The title reminds me of a dystopian I read a little while ago - Eden's Root by Rachel Fisher. Recommended, that one!

    1. I'm glad I've intrigued :) This would be most likely be traditional fantasy in nature. Aiden comes from our world and time, but Eden is very much a traditional fantasy setting. The big difference is that whereas traditional fantasy tends to be event-based (worlds and events well developed, but characters less so), this is very much a character-driven story (with lots of action, mind you). Aiden and many of the characters are YA, but there are important adult players as well, so I hesitate to call this completely YA. Whatever you'd want to call it, it's a great book that I hope you will give a try :)