Monday, September 26, 2016

Eden's Escape by M. Tara Crowl, 2016 (+ Giveaway!)

This is my review of the second Eden of the Lamp book. Don't read on unless you've read Eden's Wish (my review–which includes a giveaway for both books).

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on Goodreads 
Eden's new life on earth begins in New York City under the guidance of her new guardian: Pepper, a petite, bubbly genie alum who's also a Broadway actress. Before she has a chance to settle in, though, Eden is whisked away for a granting--only to find herself trapped in a laboratory. David Brightly, owner of the world's leading tech company, cares more about tapping into the lamp's power than making a wish and starts performing tests on Eden. With Brightly's plasma shield around the lamp, Eden has no way home. Left without a choice, she escapes the lab and goes on the run. After her daring exit, Eden finds herself on the streets of Paris--home to Electra's headquarters. Left in a strange city with a price on her head (courtesy of scheming Brightly), Eden has to keep her wits about her. She dons a chic disguise and flits around Paris incognito, investigating Brightly Tech. Assisted by Pepper and her old adversary Bola, as well as some new friends, Eden embarks on a quest to retrieve the lamp and protect the secrets of the genie legacy.
(320 pages)

Okay, well it's time for my review of Eden's Escape. It just came out earlier this month, and I got copies of both books from the author so I could participate in the blog tour. I'm posting my tour stop with all its goodies today too, so click here to check it out–I've got an excerpt from Eden's Escape on there, plus an exclusive Top Ten list written by Ms. Crowl herself just for Read Till Dawn.

Now for the review itself. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect after the ending of Eden's Wish with the announcement that Eden would be going to live on earth. I thought Eden would probably be struggling to fit in, going to school, making friends, doing all the things she did in the first book but on a much grander scale. Instead, Eden spends most of the book in hiding after a granting goes horribly wrong: a scientist named David Brightly has tracked her lamp down and rubbed it, for the express purpose of performing experiments on Edem until he can figure out how to get unlimited wishes. She makes a desperate escape, but has to leave the lamp behind; the rest of the book covers Eden's attempts to avoid being found by Brightly (a feat made a thousand times harder by the fact that his company made all the phones, and he's not at all shy about tapping phones to get the information he needs), find allies, get the lamp back, and generally set everything to rights. It seems like a pretty hopeless mess at some points, and it was interesting to watch the magic of the lamp collide with all the advantages of cutting-edge technology.

It was also fun watching Eden try to interact with modern technology for the very first time. Xavier completely neglected to teach her anything about it, because he thought it was a waste of time, so she's stuck figuring things out on her own. One of my favorite scenes is when she sits down at a computer to get on the internet. She stares at the screen for a minute, clicks the Word icon on the bottom because she thinks the "w" stands for "web," and then proceeds to type in what she needs and wait for the results to pop up. It was funny, and really realistic! It may have been slightly less realistic to see how quickly she caught on to the internet after that–I've spent some solid time teaching my grandmother how to navigate the web, and it definitely wasn't as intuitive for her. I guess being a genie makes Eden better at figuring things out than my human grandmother, though. That's one of the perks of being, you know, a magical immortal being with supernatural powers.

I don't want to talk too much about the story itself, for fear of spoilers. I would like to just touch on the interpersonal relationships, though, because I think they're both the main weakness and the greatest strength of Eden's Escape.

My only real complaint is Eden's relationship with Pepper. Now, don't get me wrong: I love Pepper. She seems like a fascinating character, and a very kind one. I would happily spend a whole book just learning about her backstory or watching her move forward in the present. My trouble, though, is that she and Eden develop a strong bond too quickly. They're together in New York for just two weeks, yet when they're separated and then reunited both act as though they were in a legitimate mother-daughter relationship. I love that Eden adores Pepper–because I do, too–but I was just a little turned off by the way she saw her as a mother figure so soon after leaving Xavier and Goldie (the couple who actually raised her, and who she recognized as her true family in Eden's Wish). You'd think there'd be a little more homesickness for her masters, but Eden barely thinks of them throughout the novel except in relation to her attempts to rescue the lamp.

The relationships are also a huge strength to the book, though, simply because they're so compelling. Whether it's Eden's relationships with the main characters from Eden's Wish, or with her new friend Melodie, or even with some of the members of Electra, there's always an interesting dynamic to watch. This goes to the character-building, too: Crowl builds dynamic characters, so that–for the most part, anyway–there are no stock characters. This is a huge plus, and it really makes the entire novel for me.

Overall, I'd say that Eden's Escape is a very strong MG fantasy novel (that's perhaps not quite as strong as its prequel). I really enjoyed reading both books, and I look forward to finding out whether there will be a third installment in the series. There's certainly room for one!

And now it's time for the giveaway. Enter below in the Rafflecopter form (the same one that's on the main blog tour post). Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received complimentary copies of both Eden of the Lamp books so I could participate in the blog tour for Eden's Escape. I'm also being entered into a random $50 giftcard giveaway for posting my review and the blog tour stop during the month of September.

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