Book review: “Dividing Eden” (Dividing Eden #1) by Joelle Charbonneau

I was attracted to “Dividing Eden” based on the cover and the fact that it was a new release. I even almost purchased my own copy, as I checked out the book from the library but then had to return it and then had to wait till it became available again. In the end, I read the library copy, and I am glad that I didn’t spend money on it.

Yes, it is going to be one of those reviews.

I jumped into this book without reading the synopsis, but I am going to provide it here as it summarizes the book pretty well. (I do find that a lot of synopses tend to be too spoilery, that is why I usually select books based on the buzz, tags, ratings or whether I have heard of this writer or not.) I really liked the cover and the tags on the cover, and I feel as if I overhyped this book for myself. (The cover is gorgeous, let’s be honest.)

Dividing Eden

Synopsis

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

Review

I would have attributed a lot of things that I found wrong with this book to the lack of experience, but it seems like “Diving Eden” is not Joelle Charbonneau’s first book. However, let me start with the things that I liked.

I liked the world setting and the mix of technology and magic. We have a middle ages type of society with rather segregated roles for men and women, however, there is also magic (or hints of it – prophesies and the like) and technology. The use of windmills for the electricity is rather unique for a fantasy world, and that was my favourite part.

The rest was just too predictable. The book started strong but then went downhill with cliches and trope-y twists. Andreus’ obsession with the priestess made little sense to me, especially since he was trusting her word over his twin sister’s. The rivalry itself was just too cliched. Of course, it had to happen as it is the plot of the book, but for me it felt artificial. Even though fallouts between siblings, including twins, do happen in real life, the way it was described in the book it seemed forced and unrealistic. Both siblings had kept each other’s secrets for years; they were together against the council – and yet, there is the conflict.

Perhaps, I would have believed it more if one of the siblings was obsessed with the crown initially. But neither seemed to be power hungry enough to harm their twin. That really puzzled and frustrated me.

All characters in the book felt flat for me. The novel is written in third point of view but with alternating POV between Carys and Andreus

The eventual fallout at the end of “Dividing Eden”, and also the twist regarding certain powers, were well written (I was delighted by that little twist and the introduction of a new character, but those were small consolations in the face of mediocre plot). But I felt cheated that the most of the book was mediocre at best. Good thing that I read most of it on the train to and from Montreal, otherwise I would have been easily distracted by other books.

(edit) There is one part of the story that appealed to me – the portrayal of addiction. I don’t see much of mental illnesses or addictions in fantasy books, but in “Dividing Eden” one of the main characters suffers from addiction that affects their relationships and course of action. I liked that aspect of the book.

I am still interested to see how this story resolves. Mostly, because I liked one of the secondary characters and I am curious about his identity. I will be getting the book from the library.

The second and final part of “Dividing Eden” duology, “Eden Conquered”, is coming out in June 2018. The book description parallels the story with “Abel and Cain”, and it is really getting on my nerves. Because either it is a major spoiler or the most obvious red herring, and I am not sure I like either.

Unfortunately, it was a rather mediocre read, which left me disappointed.

Personal rating: 3 stars

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