Author: Liz Flanagan
Publish Date: 10 January 2016
Genre: Friendship, thriller, mystery
Audience: Teens and up
I won a proof copy of ‘Eden Summer’ by Liz Flanagan in a competition last year, but it has been sitting on my bookshelf ever since, mainly because I had other books crop up which I desperately wanted to read. However, when I realised I had read nothing for a blog post this week, I noticed that ‘Eden Summer’ was a particularly short read and thus I finally launched myself in.
‘Eden Summer’ follows a teenager Jess, who arrives at school one morning only to find that her best friend Eden has gone missing overnight. The novel then depicts the day of the disappearance, interjected with numerous flashbacks in order to piece together the mystery of Eden.
The first thing I noticed about this novel was the sheer amount of emotion which it held. From the get-go, I felt an extremely strong connection to Eden; the flashbacks gradually create a picture of her background and the summer leading up to her disappearance, and I found the more you know, the more you become worried and attached to her character. Occasionally, I found the flashbacks a little hard to follow in terms of a mental timeline of events, but their skewed order is extremely clever in making you the detective of the novel. Surprisingly, I also did not expect the ending, and its ambiguity throughout the novel created by the numerous amount of suspects and suspicious circumstances really contributed to the already tense atmosphere. Jess, the narrator, also played a part in creating vagueness as she refrained from revealing important details to both the police and the reader, which was again exceptionally immersive. All of these aspects built up the emotion in the book, and by the end I was on the verge of tears with the sheer amount of feelings I was holding.
Another aspect of ‘Eden Summer’ which I adored was the stunning imagery created by Flanagan’s writing. Each setting was so vividly pictured in my mind, which really helped in enhancing the realism of the novel, and I know that these images are ones which will stay in my imagination for a very long time. The beautiful descriptions are juxtaposed with a rather simplistic writing style for the rest of the novel which I found difficult to get stuck into, but it is not long until the gripping plot completely takes over. Thus, I read ‘Eden Summer’ in around 24 hours – an accessible writing style combined with a thrilling plot is an absolute recipe for a quick read.
Despite awarding the novel 5 stars, there are some aspects which I didn’t necessarily dislike, but perhaps would have added in. For example, despite Jess being the narrator of the novel, I felt like we did not know a huge amount about her family, her background or even her personality. I really enjoyed experiencing her determination and the strength of her friendship towards Eden – even when it wavered – as it was a very realistic portrayal of both the bonds and secrecy in even the strongest of friendships, and so I would have loved to have known more about Jess as a person. However, it wasn’t a huge fault with the novel as the plot was much more tailored towards Eden, and thus it remained an exceptional read.
Overall, I cannot believe it took me so long to read ‘Eden Summer’. Flanagan’s writing is stunning, creating beautiful imagery alongside a gripping tale. The characters are realistic, and the emotion created throughout the novel is on an immense scale. I don’t usually say this, but ‘Eden Summer’ is a book which I am already itching re-read because I enjoyed the whole package so unbelievably much – and if that isn’t any incentive to read, then I don’t know what is!