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I feel like I should start out by admitting that I've not read a lot of sci-fi books in the past, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. It took me a chapter or so to "get into it", but that has more to do with the way it's written than the genre.
Dark Eden is set on an alien planet that's named, you guessed it, Eden. The group of 500+ humans living there are the descendants of a man and woman from Earth who became stuck on the planet by accident. As you can probably imagine, some of the population has inherited genetic abnormalities, one being a "batface" (hare lip) and the other being "clawfeet" (I'm assuming this is referring to webbed feet). The entire current population are also "simpletons", for lack of a better way to put it. While some of them do have mild retardation, most of them are just so set in their ways and don't know any better about a lot of things.
This is the main reason I had difficulty getting into the book at first: Since it's written from the character's point of view, you have to get used to their more simplistic way of speech. They also have misunderstood certain words throughout the generations. For example, their anniversary of their ancestors coming to the plant has turned into an "Any Virsry". You get the idea.
Without giving too much away, the main boy character, John Redlantern, who is about 15 years old at the beginning, becomes frustrated with the Family's unwillingness to try new things, spread out, and their lack of finding a solution to their dwindling food supply. During their Any Virsry, he does something that completely changes the way the Family will live from now on and gets him kicked out of their community, leaving him to fend for himself at the edge of the forest.
Eventually, despite threats of basically being disowned from the Family and never allowed to return, more and more "newhairs" (aka teenagers. I'll let you guess what kind of "hairs" they're referring to.) join John at his cave dwelling by Cold Path, the path that leads over the dark, snowy, ominous mountain that no one on Eden has ever crossed.
John's group and the rest of the Family reach a truce for awhile, but soon enough some ne'er do-wells from the Family start trouble. The Cold Path group is then forced to trek over the ominous mountain, which has been John Redlantern's plan all along.
After narrowly escaping the treacherous Dark (as the mountain is called), John and his group eventually settle into a never ending forest on the other side for several years before trouble comes to call again. While on the move yet again, he and his group discover something that changes everything about the way the residents of Eden were living before...
Despite the simplistic way in which it's written and the somewhat repetitiveness of Dark Eden, I found it hard for me to quit reading. I was in "Just one more chapter" mode for most of the book. It is surprisingly engrossing, especially once you get past the first 2 or 3 chapters. The major thing I didn't like about this book was the end. It wouldn't be any fun if I gave it away, but let's just say I hope you like open endings. I still highly recommend it, though, if you're into sci-fi/fantasy!