Monday, September 12, 2016

Eden's Wish by M. Tara Crowl, 2015 (+ giveaway!)

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All twelve years of Eden's life have been spent in an antique oil lamp. She lives like a princess inside her tiny, luxurious home; but to Eden, the lamp is nothing but a prison. She hates being a genie. All she wants, more than anything, is freedom.
When Eden finds a gateway to Earth within the lamp, she takes her chance and enters the world she loves. And this time, she won't be sent back after three wishes.
Posing as the new kid at a California middle school, Eden revels in all of Earth's pleasures--but quickly learns that this world isn't as perfect as she always thought it was. Eden soon finds herself in the middle of a centuries-old conflict between powerful immortals. A ruthless organization run by a former genie will stop at nothing to acquire the lamp and its power--even hurt Tyler and Sasha, the new mortal friends who have given Eden a home. To save her friends and protect the lamp's magic, Eden must decide once and for all where she belongs.

(272 pages)

I may, on the surface, be a little old for Eden's Wish. According to the information sheet I got from the author, it's targeted toward kids aged nine through twelve; I'm seventeen, five years above the highest age suggestion. But I still loved reading Eden's Wish, perhaps partly because of its target age. You see, I'm in the middle of applying to college. I've been very stressed out about grown-up questions like where to apply, what to major in, and - oh, you know, no biggie - what I want to do with the rest of my life. I loved reading Eden's Wish, because it took me back, for a few hours, to sixth grade. You see, back then I would have been swept entirely away in the breathless combination of magic and relationships that is Eden's Wish. It was nice to take a break from my applications and be transported back to that simpler time in my life by reading Eden's Wish.

Before I go any further with this discussion of Eden's Wish, I want to get the negatives out of the way. There are only two troubles I have with the book, and both of them are pretty small. The first is that it does slightly blend in with other novels in its genre simply because there are so many fractured fairytales on the market about young characters dealing with unwanted destinies. This isn't a huge problem here, since Ms. Crowl creates a pretty unique storyline and Aladdin isn't usually retold that often anyway, but it does mean that in a few years I might have trouble remember many specifics from Eden's Wish. The other trouble I have with the book is that I get a general sense it could have delved deeper into the possibilities of its plot. Perhaps this is just a side effect of its younger audience, but I personally would have liked a better explanation of how the genies are born (is there a surrogate involved? Do they grow out of the lamp's walls? Does Goldie give birth to them?). It would also be cool to learn even more about how granted wishes shaped history, and about how Xavier and Goldie made the lamp in the first place.

Those were the minuses, so now it's on to the plusses!

I really loved Eden as a character. She wants to do the right thing, but she's so desperate to escape the confines of her lamp that she unwittingly brings danger to the world. The ethical dilemma that she faces throughout the book is - when you actually stop and think about it - really fascinating. I spent the entire book unsure whether I wanted Eden to be free from the lamp (but let it fall into the wrong hands), or to go back inside it and be safe (but trapped). I can't spoil the ending, of course, but it's definitely an interesting question.

The supporting characters are also very interesting and three-dimensional. Eden's human friends Tyler and Sasha are really great, and I enjoyed reading about them, but my favorite supporting characters were actually Xander and Goldie (the creators of the lamp, who raised Eden inside it). We don't get to see too much of them throughout the book, but observing their relationships with not just Eden but also all of the ex-genies was really interesting.

This review is getting long, so I'd better bring it to a close. There's more I could talk about, but suffice it to say that Eden's Wish is a good book. I wouldn't go around crying from the rooftops that it's the best book in the entire world, but it's good as a comfortable escapist MG fantasy novel. If that's what you, or a middle schooler you know, is in the mood for, then definitely give it a try! Also, from now until the end of September you can enter to win a signed set of not just Eden's Wish but also its sequel, Eden's Escape. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oh, and also: the author's having a $50 giveaway to celebrate the release of Eden's Escape. Click here to check out my blitz post with the giveaway details!

Disclaimer: I received complimentary copies of both Eden of the Lamp books so I could participate in the blog tour for Eden's Escape. Also, I'm not responsible for sending the prizes in this giveaway: I will give the winner's information to the author, and she will mail out the books.

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