'Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.'- Angela Carter

Monday, 6 August 2012

Review: Crashing Eden - Michael Sussman

Crashing Eden – Michael Sussman


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.

My Review: 3.75/5*

Michael Sussman’s book, Crashing Eden is an interesting and original take on the concept of the story of the Garden of Eden and ‘God’. Having been approached to review and help promote the book, I found myself incredibly glad to have discovered the text as it isn’t something I had previously come across. I enjoy reading twists on classic tales such as Angela Carter’s rewritten fairy tales and am soon to be reading a darker, Gothic reworking of various Mother Goose nursery rhymes courtesy of NetGalley. It goes without saying that I was really looking forward to reading this book, and now that I have finished it I am glad that I was shown this book. Do not let my average rating put you off picking this book up, it is just my opinion. The only thing which prevented this rating from being higher was that I felt slightly disappointed with the ending. It was a difficult book for me to rate, hence the very precise 3.75/5*. It was far better than a 3 or a 3.5*. Anyway, enough star discussion, let’s get onto my thoughts of the book content.

Once I started reading this book I honestly could not put it down. I devoured 40% of it in just one hour! Sussman’s writing style is simplistic, making it an easy and enjoyable read. If my degree has taught me anything about books it is that there is nothing, and I mean nothing, better than a simply written book. Don’t get me wrong, some classics I absolutely adore but give me a nice, easy read any day! From the very first page it is made clear that our protagonist Joss’ family life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies and we are thrown headlong into his dark, depressive familial life. We learn of the brutal relationship between himself and his mother, the wonderful bond he shares with his young sister and the horrendous discovery that his youngest brother Eli had committed suicide two years previous to this tale. The most striking aspect of the introduction to Joss’ family is the complete lack on endearments associated with a stable family life. There is no love between the parents, no love between mother and son and the air is ripe with bitter feelings and guilty memories. The family are even lacking the ‘normal’ forms of addressing each other. There is no ‘mum’ or ‘dad’. Joss is constantly referring to them by their first names, something completely unfamiliar in many homes. The only figure which seems to keep the family grounded to an extent is the young toddler, Callie. Extraordinarily she is the only one who inspires love in the other members of the family despite being so young and she is also a vital figure towards the end of the novel. 

As the tale progresses, we learn of Joss’ rebellion within school, his burning of the house of his brothers’ bully and the damage caused, and his accident resorting in his involvement in a truly bizarre project. Joss’ life takes a drastic change for what seems to be the better following this accident, which resulted in him crashing his bike into the car door of Shakti Sharma. He soon finds out that she is a researcher who studies the Shankman Frequency, a sound described as an ‘OM’ which he begins to hear following his crash. As the book develops, we learn that this ‘OM’ is the equivalent to our return to Eden following The Fall. It is explained as the frequency which is heard within humans up until the age of six (hence Callie’s involvement) and that the event of losing this sound is so traumatic that all blot out the painful memory of the loss of such bliss. The frequency bestows upon the person a feeling of true happiness, of contentment and is responsible for life changing decisions made. Joss for instance turns his back on his life of crime, he stops stealing, lying and his depression appears to have vanished. The instance he receives another beating from the school bully, he loses his ‘OM’ and discovers that Shakti and her partner, Seth, have been working on a PVD device which attaches behind the ears and allows all to metaphorically return to Eden. 

As the book develops, Joss is given the task of distributing the PVD devices to all that he can, which results in an intense rebellion against the device by the government, the religious and, of course, the figure of ‘God’. I am not going to go into too much detail here as I don’t want to spoil the book for all who wish to read it. It is certainly a book worth reading with a completely original twist on the whole Eden concept. I actually just Googled ‘Shankman Frequency’ in order to see whether the sound heard is an actual theory – which I think gives the author so much credit for his persuasion skills and ability to draw the reader directly into his world. I feel a little silly for Googleing it now though… lol. Get to reading it guys! It’s exciting, incredibly creative, a simple read with characters that you can certainly sympathise with. 

Meet the author

Author Bio:

Michael Sussman is the author of Crashing Eden, a YA fantasy/paranormal novel, and Otto Grows Down, a children’s picture book featuring illustrations by Scott Magoon.

Dr. Sussman is a clinical psychologist and has also published two books for mental health professionals. He’s the author of A Curious Calling: Unconscious Motivations for Practicing Psychotherapy and the editor of A Perilous Calling: The Hazards of Psychotherapy Practice.

He resides in the Boston area with his son, Ollie.

Buy from Amazon: http://amzn.to/KHk6aE
Buy from Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/MZ4iT7 (paperback), http://amzn.to/MRuJM4 (e-book)
Buy from Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/KST7Fy
Buy from Smashwords: http://bit.ly/IPTc0l
Author’s website and blog: http://www.MichaelSussmanBooks.com
Twitter: @MichaelBSussman https://twitter.com/#!/MichaelBSussman

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