Eden's Root by Rachel Fisher
Description: The year is 2033, and the world hovers on the edge of explosion as unexplained crop deaths lead to severe global food shortages. In the United States, the Sickness is taking lives slowly, creeping its way into every family. Fi Kelly has already faced the Sickness in her own family, toughening her at a young age. But when her dying father makes a shocking confession, Fi realizes that her toughness will be pushed to its absolute limits. Saddled with an impossible secret and the mission of saving her little sister, Fi sets out to transform herself into the warrior that she must become to survive the coming collapse. Along the way, she will discover that evil can be accidental…and that love can be intentional.
Review: I originally accepted this review request because of my love for dystopian novels and love triangles. Also, there was a badass female main character, whose job it was to save her family. Add on an impossible secret, and I am sold.
This book is long. I'm not certain the actual amount of pages, but I'm assuming around the same size as a Harry Potter novel. It took me four months to finish it. Well, four months because it was long and because I got lazy. But still, four months.
Eden's Root tells the story of Fi Kelly, a girl who has lived a normal life until her father tells her a terrible secret about the food supply. And how it is dwindling. You're probably thinking, "Oh? Her food supply is dwindling? Why doesn't her mother just go to the nearest shopping centre and get food?" Well, you are mistaken. The world's food supply is dwindling. And the food that is in circulation, is tainted. Because of the damn scientists. (I'm probably going to be monitored for writing that statement.)
Her dying father's last wish is that Fi get herself, her mother, and her sister to a paradise of some sorts. A safe place he discovered because he was a scientist who opposed fiddling with the food. (I'm not really sure if he was on the team that fiddled with the food, because I read this part in January/February. But I'm certain he had something to do with it.) This safe place is located on the underbelly of Canada, and it's Fi's goal to get her family there. Fi's father gives her a map, a journal, and then dies.
I really liked how Fi got a pre-understanding of the situation. She got to prepare for the fight by going to a Sensei, who taught her how to shoot a gun, skin animals, and basic survival tips. Usually in dystopians, you're thrown right into the craziness. But with this novel, you read how everything happened. You see how it affects the characters, because they're used to everyday life. They're used to going to school, work, and doing their daily chores. But then this thing happens, and shit hits the fan.
I had a problem with one part of the novel. It was slightly large, and it grew as the pages turned. In the beginning, as her father is on his deathbed, he tells Fi that since he got sick (from the food), his name was scratched off the list for entrance to Eden. Alright, that's reasonable. Then he tells her that if she finds it, and pleads her case, they might allow her to enter. Besides, it's only three people going into the underground haven. He tells her not to tell their next door neighbors, which include four more people. It would be too many people, and they might not accept them all into Eden. Okay, again, reasonable. Obviously, Fi tells Sean, who is the son of the next door neighbors, about Eden and the food and her father. That was a big risk, but he understands, and he goes to training with the Sensei. So now we have seven people traveling to Eden. That's a pretty big number, and I don't blame Fi for telling Sean and his family. His parents are like an Aunt and Uncle to her, and they grew up together. Alright.
Big spoiler. Along the way, along her travels, she picks up at least 8 other people. Don't quote me on this, but it was three people at one of the rest stops, a brother and sister who helped with the maps, a military man, his daughter, and her baby, and there was maybe two other people. So along with herself, her family, Sean's family, there were about 15 people traveling with them. I'm sorry, but I thought it was ridiculous. In this world that they live in, you have to fight for yourself. It's every girl for herself. You can't go along picking up stragglers because you felt bad. Fi was the leader, and being the leader meant making tough decisions. Yes, I understand they became one big happy family during this time, but c'mon. How can you feed 15 people on animals, grapes, fruits, berries, whatever. This was a huge problem for me. And at the end, I got a little frustrated with the decision of the people who ran Eden. (op, 'nother spoiler.)
Like, I understand that these people were helpful to the journey. One of them could read maps well, another was a schoolteacher, another was a doctor. I get that, I really do. But the whole food thing. How do you fill 15 mouths? There is a food shortage, aaaaaand the food is SICKFOOD. IT'S NOT GOOD. I just couldn't get over this. And how would the guards at Eden accept 15 people when Fi's father was skeptical that they would accept 7? C'mon.
Wow, I just spent three paragraphs complaining. I'm becoming one of those bloggers. Trust me, there are a lot of great things about this book. For instance, the laws that the author created for the Family. (The group of 15 people were referred to as the Family in the novel.) It was very thought out, and it was definitely needed. Since Fi and Sean were the most trained, they became the Leaders of the Family. There were a lot of rules regarding food, like the youngest ate first, and anyone who had the Sickness ate last. Also, they had a Consideration Meeting whenever they took a new person in. The Family had to decide as a whole, and that was very smart, considering they would be sharing food and shelter with them, plus bringing them to a safe haven. They had to contribute something to the group, and I liked how Fi acknowledged this.
I also liked how the author switched perspectives during one of the chapters. Fi and her family lived in a suburban neighborhood, and we got to see what it was like in the cities. Actually, we got to see a student who had been researching the food crisis for months, and we got to see how the citizens reacted to being thrown of out the city. I liked this a lot because usually during dystopian novels, you don't see what happens when the shit hits the fan, and everyone becomes aware of what's going on. It was terrifying.
Something I didn't like was how, at times, the writing seemed forced. As if the character was a sports announcer, as my english teacher would say. Just some of the dialogue was this way. It wasn't natural.
Now for the characters. Fi was fearless. She's only 13, and she saved the lives of 15 people. She truly grew up from this situation, and she may never relax again because of the things she had to witness. She lost people during this journey, but they're definitely proud of who she has become. I really enjoyed those slim moments when you say Fi being a 13 year old girl again. Sean was annoying. I never like the guy that comes between the love triangle. I mostly hated him because I pictured Sean from Degrassi as him, and since he was really annoying, I just brought that over. I felt him silently sneering at Fi and Asher the entire novel, wishing he was kissing her, like, every page. He was such an angsty boy. Relax man. This girl is trying to save you and your family, which includes your sick sister, and you're pissed that you're not getting any from her? Please direct yourself in the direction of the nearest pit, and hop off.
I imagined this guy (without the cat ears) to be Asher. Asher is the student in the city who researched the food shortages, and he winds up with the Family, and winds up falling in love with Fi. He was the Leader of his group, and I really appreciated that he wasn't up in her grill while she was tending to the Family. He gave her space, helped with her sisters, and spent time with her Sick mother. Even though Fi was sexually frustrated sometimes, and that was just annoying, she had to understand that he was doing it for her.
It also annoyed me how she felt bad for certain things that she did. THE WORLD IS DIFFERENT. She shot a man for raping some woman, and she got all sad and stuff. OK. First of all, you would have not done anything differently in the other world. If some freak was raping a woman, you would have shot him. Plain and simple. She was feeling really bad, and it was frustrating. It's the not the same as it used to be. You can't trust people anymore. You're going to have to shoot a few weirdos for your own survival. Alright? Because like I said before, it's every girl for herself.
Overall, with all of my complaints, and the length of this book, and Fi's guilt, this was an awesome book. However, I do not recomeend reading it after you just finished binge eating, because you will get scared, like me, and the author will e-mail you asking if you're alright. If you're a fan of fearless babes, fighting, and safe places, Eden's Root is the book for you. Also: very stoked for the sequel.
PS: While I was reading, I think it was around 90% done, when they arrive at Eden and enter it and stuff, it seemed like Enclave, you know that book I review six hundred years ago? I felt like Enclave could have been the sequel to this book. Just picture that for a sec.
In this hopeless place there was only on goal, one vision, one thought, one feeling...survival.-Eden's Root//Rachel Fisher