Crashing Eden by Michael Sussman
Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy
Publication: May 1st 2012 by Solstice Publishing
For one boy and his friends, the path to Paradise comes at a cost—one they may not be prepared to pay.
When a biking accident leaves 17-year-old Joss Kazdan with the ability to hear things others can’t, reality as he knows it begins to unravel.
A world of legends exists beyond the ordinary life he’s always known, and he is transported to the same Paradise he’s studying in World Mythology. But the strange gets even stranger when his new friends build a device that delivers people through the gates of the Garden of Eden.
Now Samael, the Creator God, is furious. As Samael rains down his apocalyptic devastation on the ecstasy-seeking teens, Joss and his companions must find a way to appease Samael—or the world will be destroyed forever.
For Michael Sussman’s debut into young adult, I’d call this a solid start. I felt that we had some really strong moments where his writing was taking off, with strong elements of fantasy, but then ultimately there were some big flops. Still his work was readable and enjoyable and I found it easy to read. One of the biggest problems was I felt like we had a few too many plot loops, like at one moment Joss was doing something and the next it was completely different. Also, I felt like the fantasy element as a more modern fantasy wasn’t as strong as it could be.
From the first moment I started reading, I knew that this book was going to be different because we followed a male protagonist, Joss. I feel like the young-adult genre is lacking in stories from a male perspective, so this was a nice addition! Joss was a little impulsive and seemed to change the foundations of his character quickly, which was annoying. He certainly had a wild history that made for an interesting reading and enabled you to really see a change in his character that was nice. I tend to find the male protagonist stories follow a disturbed youth who is falling of the rails and has issues. Joss is struggling with his younger brother’s suicide, his distant mother and general trouble to be good, so I enjoyed this aspect of his character. I found that he could make me chuckle.
And anyhow, who the hell was that dickwad Heckle to sentence me to a lifetime of misery? He could kiss my deluded ass.”
He would have been a stronger character if he’d become more structured in his change from the rebel to a new “person”, and he needed more to the dynamics of his relationships with some of the other characters like his friends, but other than that I found him entertaining and easy to connect with.
He has two “love interests” almost of the story, but one can’t be anything but a young boy’s crush. Shakti is the crush and to be truthful, she was a little boring and I didn’t think she had much substance to her character. She came along looking to be some mystical woman and then she seemed to defer lots to her boyfriend and whilst Joss professed her as beautiful, I didn’t really feel like there was a lot about her character.
Either way, I’d betrayed Alessa. But what was I supposed to do when I had such strong feelings for both girls?”
On the other hand, we had Alessa, Joss’s main love interest and she seems to flesh out as the story goes along. Although there were still a lot of unanswered questions in their relationship. At first she seems a little bitchy, but then she becomes a little more understanding and a relationship quickly forms with Joss. It would have been nice to watch a more steady development, but I guess it represents how young people jump into love.
One character I despised was Joss’s mother. She was an utter cow! She was horrible to him and literally hated him. The fact that she even told him she didn’t like him, didn’t sit well with me. No wonder the boy had problems when his mother behaved so despicably. Her enlightenment by the end of the novel wasn’t enough to redeem her and I felt like her actions couldn’t be excused throughout the novel.
Whilst I felt like the characters were a little lacking, Sussman seems to have really got a lot of research about heaven, hell and the cultural beliefs of different religions and I really found them interesting to read. I found at times all the talk of God and religion got a little too much for me, but that’s just my own opinion. Still, I felt like the novel was thoroughly researched and shows Sussman to have some real potential for more in future.
“I believe long ago, all humans could hear the sound. In mythological terms, that was the Golden Age. Paradise ended with the Fall, and that’s when adult humans lost touch with this cosmic vibrations.”
The plot was strong for the first part and then we reached about 40% and it tailed off until about 75% since in between Joss was handing out PVDs to hear the OM that is part of the connection to Eden and this is discussed within the first 40% which makes up for a strong set up to the story. During the middle of this novel, I truthfully got a little bored. However the last 25% I devoured eagerly. If the whole of this novel had been as exciting as the last 25% I would have easily given this story 4 stars.
Overall I felt like Sussman has made a strong entrance to the YA genre and that he’s showing a lot of potential for future novels! I wouldn’t dismiss this one as rubbish because it really has some great moments. Check it out if you have the time!
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Thanks to Miss Gonzalez for inviting me to join Michael’s tour.