Review: Edenborn

Edenborn Edenborn by Nick Sagan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Note: This review was originally written in the early 2000s and published for a no longer running website: AudiobookCafe. This review is focused on both the book and audiobook. Sequels can be downright tricky, but Nick Sagan rises to the occasion with his sequel “Edenborn.” Transpiring some eighteen years after the events of “idlewild,” this audiobook manages to enhance the plot and give on a better appreciation of its predecessor.

Prior to the destruction of humankind from the plague, “Black Ep,” geneticists managed to create a human species that were not susceptible to the disease but would grow up in a desolate world. As they came of age, these children clones were released from a virtual world into reality to rebuild Earth.

Each child dealt with it differently. Halloween, the hero of “idlewild” chose a life of solitary and banned anyone from bothering him. Champagne and Vashti live in Germany creating “waterbabies”—genetically altered and unnaturally produced humans that have higher immune systems and enhance qualities over human counterparts. In Egypt, Isaac has cloned his children from humans, thereby making them still vulnerable to “Black Ep,” unless they take their medicine on a routine basis. Pandora decided to take control of the virtual world and reprogram it with the artificial intelligence being who resided there, Malachi. And Phantasia has yet to be seen or heard from.

The first novel consisted of only entries by Halloween, but in this audiobook, Halloween is rarely seen throughout the first two thirds of the story. In lieu of Halloween, Sagan introduces us firsthand to a slew of characters that listeners will find loveable, loathsome, or both. From the first generation of characters, we see through the eyes of Halloween, Pandora, and Champaign mostly. From the second generation, Penny (Penelope), Haji, and Deuce are the dominant characters.

Surprisingly, both of Sagan novels can stand alone. While not being redundant, Sagan weaves his sequel with bit of information explaining what has happened previously but adding to it. After all, the first story took place 18 years ago and the characters have had chance to not only reflect but research and get a further understand of what happened to them and their planet.

While Sagan showed he could effectively illustrate teenage angst and disillusion in “idlewild,” he further develops his talent and takes his characters (some of which are in the midst of puberty) to a higher level. Raised by Isaac, Haji must deal with being a clone of a scientist who helped construct the first generation of post-humans; and who left the means by which he could inhabit Haji’s body, if Haji allows it. In addition, he must rationalize his father’s religion (Islam) in the face of everything he sees wrong with the world. Penelope ranks as the most intriguing character. As the audiobook starts out she is a sweet albeit-overly excited teenage girl who is a bit too egotistical. But she takes a very dark turn as the story progresses and in her, Sagan should be commended for creating such a delicious and malignant character.

Where the audiobook comes together is with its cast of narrators. Oliver Wyman delivers a superb performance by keeping a similar voice of Halloween in “idlewild” but using tone to add some maturity and wisdom to the hermit. Clayton Barclay Jones who portrayed Halloween in ‘idlewild’ takes on the identity of the mysterious Deuce which upon listening to the novel, one understands the choice. John Stange portrays Haji and manages to show some hints of a Middle Eastern accent without overdoing it. But Jenna Lamia steals the show as Penny, presenting a character at times that is sympatric, whiny and on the brink of sanity, sometimes within the same entry. The other voices also contribute much to the audiobook, but these particular voices stand above the rest.

While “idlewild” kept one’s interest, this sequel uses a range of characters and events to make it a much more intriguing novel that fans of the first will appreciate and newcomers will enjoy. “Edenborn” answers many questions and yet what is left unsaid will hopefully be covered in the third novel, “Everfree.”

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