The Earth is gone. Boom. Cosmic dust. But all hope is not lost. Four colony ships were launched prior to the disaster that claimed the planet. Three of these made it out of the solar system and this is the tale of one of those ships. Horizon Alpha. Alas, the colonists had no way of knowing that their new Eden already had a thriving population. Here there be dinosaurs.
A freak explosion in the centuries old colony ship forces an emergency evacuation and three years later the human colonists are barely surviving behind a makeshift electric fence cobbled together from their vehicles and powered by a failing power supply. Caleb Wilde is a rookie soldier who is handpicked by their leader to go on the relatively routine “milk run” to retrieve a spare power core from another one of their downed ships. Then all hell breaks loose.
Caleb and the other members of his squad led by the stalwart General Carthage find themselves stranded in the dense jungle while their base’s power supply is failing. If they can’t skirt hundreds of deadly predators, not only will they fall, but possibly the last remnant of the human race with them. Oh, and there are T-Rexes. Everybody loves a good T-Rex, or in this case a bunch of bad ones.
First of all I should point out that Predators of Eden is a YA Sci-Fi story targeting the middle age range. Now that I’ve said that I probably wouldn’t have guessed that just by reading the story as it can be enjoyed by young or older age groups. PoE is a tightly paced, compelling, science fiction thriller that doubles as a coming of age tale of one young man coming into his own in the face of personal tragedy.
Much like the Hunger Games, Predators of Eden defies classification or generalization. It’s just a great piece of fiction that happens to take place in the future on a planet dominated by reptilian killers. Here the author makes some bold choices by mixing common species like T-Rex along with new versions like the massive and invisible crabs that bury themselves in foliage as well as the “wolves” who are smaller sleeker killing machines that follow a pack mentality.
Oh, and by all the gods and powers that be bless this writer for leaving out Velociraptors. Thank you from the depths of my heart for that.
On to Caleb, the focal point of the story. He starts out a boy, but a boy who has endured the loss of a father and a brother prior to the beginning of the book. In the space of a few days he must go from a green recruit to a young man that must shoulder the survival of the human race. I did like the fact that Vogel cites in numerous places that Caleb falls back on his training to explain his ability to adapt. Too often I read narratives where the main character goes from hapless teenager to savior with no more reason than “it was their destiny.” There are few other surprises, but I don’t want to give away too much of the plot.
I also have to give the author credit for her supporting cast. Every single character whether they die right off the bat, or live to the end book is interesting, and deserving of empathy. Whether it’s the odd woman out in the party or the taciturn General trying to find a way for his people to survive, they all well developed and fascinating. There are some nicely complex relationships that form or are revealed in this relatively short work that illustrates craft on the part of this writer.
One point that did bother me was that the dinosaurs were really tough to kill. I mean nearly impossible. Given that the people of the Horizon ship had been on Eden for three years, I would have expected them to devise some better strategies for killing their predators, because if there’s one thing humans are good at, it’s killing things.
At the very least the colonists could have developed stronger silent weapons or sound suppressors for their firearms. Beyond that I could find few if any faults with the debut for this series. There are a few places where the science was a bit fuzzy but this is YA not hardcore Sci-Fi so that’s perfectly acceptable in my book.
All told, this is a great sophomore effort from the author of Flamewalker. D.W. Vogel promises to be a name to be reckoned with in the fiction world for years to come. I’m not ashamed to say that I read this book twice and found it just as entertaining the second time through. A wonderful read for the YA community and just as enjoyable for adults. I look forward to seeing how the Horizon series shapes up in the subsequent volumes.
Want to learn more? Of course you do. Visit Future House Publishing to learn more about this release. Check back regularly because the publisher runs frequent promotions for free autographed copies of the print book and other great offers.
For those of you who like the early bird special, Horizon Alpha: Predators of Eden will be available at the discounted rate of $2.99 from May 19th through May 26th.
Geek-o-Rama received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. No dinosaurs, colonists or any other wacky thing made the individual reviewer write anything he didn’t want to.