Book Review: Dividing Eden by Joelle Charbonneau

I’d like to say that I did research into what book I wanted to start 2018 reading and delved into books that were relevant or popular, but Dividing Eden was an impulse read. My local library had the book displayed as one of the books it was highlighting and the premise sounded interesting.

Dividing Eden is written by Joelle Charbonneau and published by HarperTeen (a division of Harper Collins Publishers). The kingdom of Eden has suffered the loss of its monarch and the two heirs, twins Carys and Andreus, are forced to compete to settle who will be instilled as Eden’s new ruler. The two siblings compete through different trials set before them by the Council of Elders to showcase different aspects of a ruler to see how they perform. There is scheming behind the scenes and Carys and Andreus don’t’ know who to trust.

The idea of a competition to choose a ruler sounded interesting. From what the book summary advertised, the book didn’t mention any magic or elements of high fantasy. I wasn’t looking to get into anything heavy. This book wasn’t hard to get into at all. The main characters of Carys and Andreus were laid out easily and you quickly found yourself rooting for them both. Most of the supporting cast was easy enough to remember, except maybe a few of the Elders on the ruling council, but it didn’t affect the main point of the story.

Stuff I enjoyed:
I liked the idea of a mid-evil level society that had figured out wind technology to give them lights. I had a mental picture of what the kingdom looked like and it was something a little bit different to make the kingdom stand out. I liked the main characters and would have been happy for either of them to win the contest, until stuff happens where you are obviously rooting for one over the other. I likened this story as a Game-of-Thrones-lite: it had the setting, political intrigue, and each character with a secret, but none of the gratuitous sex and violence. When there were moments of violence, it mattered – it played into the story and set characters down their paths in the story.

Stuff I didn’t care for:
There were plenty of secondary characters that I wanted more of that I felt were throw away characters. This book ends with a strong set up for the next book (which is slated to come out June 2018) and I imagine where we will see more of them there. There was an attempt at a love triangle of sorts among Carys and two lords of the area, but it didn’t go far in the story. These two guys leapt to her side through the trials because of reasons that weren’t fleshed out at all. With all the backstabbing in this book, she sure needed the help. I wasn’t sure why these guys were doing what they were doing other than the fact that they were pining after her, but even so, that wasn’t explained well.

There is plenty of story here from a rich kingdom that the reader gets a quick glance at. I think the story could have been fleshed out into a larger book to give the story a little more room to breathe, or maybe go for it and build a trilogy. The follow up book, Eden Conquered, is described as the end of the story and after finishing this book, you want more. This was a solid origin story for the larger conflict for the battle for the Kingdom of Eden, but by the time they establish the characters and tease enough hidden backstory, the book was over. The book itself was a nice read and I didn’t feel bogged down with mountains of description. Reading mainly on lunch breaks and a few times at home, I finished the book in just under two weeks. I would give the book 3 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to others. If political intrigue with a touch of fantasy is your thing, check it out.

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