Oct 22, 2013
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 recognise 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.
The prologue begins in June 2012 with the reader in the point of view of a boy named Connor, who we see is painfully rejected by the object of his affections at a dance. Back track to Perran in March of 2012: Ryan Westland arrives at the Perran School and the whole town is abuzz about him. He’s good looking, American, and takes an interest in our protagonist, Eden Anfield. Eden has lived a pretty normal life, save for the loss of her parents in a car accident. She has a good number of friends, including her best friend Connor who she’s grown up with. Meeting Ryan is a bit weird for her, simply because, he’s kind of weird. Ryan says he’s from New Hampshire, but doesn’t have the American accent. He doesn’t know about Hitler and Ghandi and all of the historical figures. He doesn’t know what pizza is. With the discovery of a book in Ryan’s home, Eden realizes the truth of his presence in Perran – and how she may have just ruined it all.
Ryan is not just any boy. He’s from fifty years in the future, on a mission to alter history. With Eden on his side to help with the mission, it should be a lot easier. But when feelings start to get involved, things get a lot more complicated. Can Ryan count on Eden to keep quiet of his secrets once she is gone? Can Eden simply go back to living without him as though their time together never existed? Can they get this right and fix everything… even if it means sacrificing their own happiness in the process?
While a bit predictable, I did enjoy After Eden. I had a great impression of Eden, she’s a pretty strong and honourable and brave girl. She may have a problem with keeping secrets though, which annoyed me to no end. She knew the importance between what she wanted and the right thing to do, even if they didn’t overlap and she did what was best for the majority over herself. It was just a bit weird how easily she accepted Ryan’s admissions. I really liked Ryan too. He was just a genuinely good guy; smart and sensible and kind. It’s nice to see YA appreciate the good guy image, because in so many we see the good guy disguised as a bad guy or a bad guy who transforms into a good guy. But Ryan, he’s just good. He gives up his happiness for a purpose beyond himself and does everything he can to protect Eden. While we don’t see a lot of character development within them, I thought that their characters were already strong enough to keep my interest throughout the story.
The plotline was, like I said, generally predictable. There were parts that were cliche and others that were even a bit unrealistic. The time-travel aspect is very simple to understand and I do think that it would have been more realistic to add a bit of complexity to it. I would’ve liked to know more about Ryan’s home in the future and the state of the world then, but I think it’s a good opportunity to approach the topic in later books in the series. I liked that it took a while for the romance to develop, that there was attraction but it didn’t take over their whole relationship. I felt like I saw two people really fall in love. I loved the astronomy in After Eden, it was definitely something I was interested in.
Helen Douglas’ After Eden is a quite distracting read, and with sequels on the way I can only see it improving from here. For readers of YA, sci-fi, and those with an interest in the planets and stars of the solar system, I think that After Eden will turn out to be a worthy read.