Cons: Could use more editing
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Eden, by Nathan Evans, takes place in a dystopian future. Much of the city the story takes place in is burned out, ruined, and eroded away. There’s an area taken up by white collar workers who seem to have things comparatively easy, but where Akiyo lives making money to live off of is a tenuous situation. Akiyo is addicted to a virtual reality in which fantasies become ‘real’, and he loses his job just as he’s pouring the last of his money into his addiction. His landlord wants rent and his supplier has cut him off. In a twist of fate, a young woman from the nicer area of the city (she interacted with him in his job as a deli delivery driver) decides to help him out. She gives him a place to sleep, then helps him get an entry-level job at the company she works for. Unfortunately, Akiyo has become convinced that the woman from his fantasy-addiction world is real and being held captive or tortured by his supplier.
This manuscript could use a good editor, but I’ve seen much worse. Whether that puts you off or not depends on just how much grammar and word choice issues bug you. I found it a livable level.
Akiyo is an interesting character, trapped between a fantasy girl and a real girl. He needs to pull himself together enough to make the money that fuels his addiction, but he’s so busy trying to get a new fix that he gets himself fired from the jobs that pay him. Once he becomes convinced that he needs to ride to the rescue of his fantasy girl, he takes leave of the last dregs of his common sense. Unfortunately, Yuki put her reputation on the line to get Akiyo his new job. Yuki is both shy and sweetly flirtatious, but she doesn’t have as much depth as Akiyo. Akiyo is the only character in the book with real depth; of course, you could make an argument for the idea that he’s so wrapped up in his fantasy-world addiction that other people don’t quite seem real to him. Not an argument I’m likely to agree with, but I could see it.
Things get interesting as Akiyo tries to juggle real life with fantasy, and he gets so wrapped up in the idea of saving his idealized fantasy girl that he starts to bring harm upon the people around him. Watching his descent into madness is engrossing. Figuring out how much of his world is reality and how much is fantasy adds to the stakes. The pacing starts slow and builds up nicely, ramping up at the end as Akiyo becomes obsessed with returning to his fantasy. I enjoyed the way in which events unfolded, and the ending left me both intrigued and satisfied.
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