Publisher: Harlequin Luna
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa
Before The Immortal Rules, there was the Red Lung, a relentless virus determined to take out all in its path. For Kylie, the miracle of her survival is also her burden-as a doctor at one of the clinics for the infected, she is forced to witness endless suffering. What's worse, strange things are happening to the remains of the dead, and by the time she befriends Ben Archer, she's beginning to wonder if a global pandemic is the least of her problems...
The following review is based on an eARC provided to me by the pubisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Since this is a novella collection rather than one of the short story anthologies I'm used to, I've decided to review each of the three novellas separately.
Julie Kagawa's Dawn of Eden was the novella I was most curious about, since I've never read anything by the other authors. I loved The Immortal Rules (you can read my review here), and this novella takes place a few decades earlier, when the Red Lung virus first broke out. You’ll pick up on a few more things if you’ve read the book (as well as a cameo appearance of one of my favorite characters), but it’s not necessary and anyone can follow along easily even if this is their first encounter with the series.
It's also Julie Kagawa's first ADULT story, and the shift in tone is noticeable. That being said, I think it's one of the best pieces of prose I've read by her so far.
The story follows Kylie, a doctor in training in D.C. fighting a losing battle against the virus. The country is in chaos, electricity, the internet, and any type of broadcast media have broken down. People are looting and killing each other in the streets, hospitals are overflowing with the dead. Kylie is constantly surrounded by death as she and her two interns do their best to ease the pain of the dying. And yet, despite all the bleakness and blood and death surrounding her, Kylie never gives up hope. She does not become immune to her patients' suffering. She believes that some of them might get better, and refuses to leave them and save herself. This inner strength and determination to fight to the last really made me admire her!
Enter Ben Archer and his injured friend. Kylie feels immediately attracted to Ben, but doesn't get distracted from their very desperate situation. When her dead patients eventually start to reawaken around her as rabid beasts, Ben has to own up to what is really happening and what role his friend had in it. He and Kylie set out on an adventurous journey through a country that seems deserted but could be crawling with enemies as soon as the sun goes down, following the hope that Ben's estranged family might still be alive and healthy on their middle-of-nowhere farm.
As I’ve already hinted, the bleak and desperate, apocalyptical atmosphere of the novel was palpable. There were also parts that made my heart hammer because I just knew something horrible was going to happen, but not exactly when or how! Definitely some major creep factor here! But apart from all that, I loved to see Kylie and Ben’s relationship develop. They are thrown together, but their relationship never felt forced and there were also no attempts to make them fall in love faster than was reasonable. The scenes between them were fairly explicit but well done – however, not YA. I was actually surprised by how explicit it was because I think of Julie Kagawa as a YA writer, but I didn’t mind ;)
Overall, I really enjoyed this glimpse at a time before society in a way reestablished itself in The Immortal Rules. The scenario and the way people reacted to the world going crazy around them felt very realistic to me, and I liked the pace – it wasn’t building towards one big peak but had several smaller ones with calmer moments in between. If you love dystopian/postapocalyptic settings with a little romance thrown into the mix, you should definitely give it a try! However, if you have a weak stomach and a problem with graphic violence, you should better sit this one out…
Have you read The Immortal Rules? Are you anxious to get a glimpse into the 'before' of the story? If you've already read it, what did you think of Julie Kagawa's first non-YA story? My curious mind wants to know :)