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Radiant Shadows

Crashing Eden

Crashing Eden - Michael Sussman Crashing Eden has moments where it truly shines, but those moments are overshadowed by some underdeveloped characters, unbelievable romances and the constant feeling that you are being given a history lesson.Joss Kazdan has the potential to be a fascinating character. Upset with a judge who ruled that his bully of a classmate was not responsible for his bother's suicide, he torched the guy's house thinking it was empty. It was during the next day at school when he found out his brother's tormentor's sister had been asleep in her bed when he set her house on fire. Now, two years later, Joss has been released from juvie and is depressed over his brother's suicide and guilt-ridden over causing an innocent girl permanent scarring. Unfortunately, Joss never showed me any of these feelings. I was constantly being told how he felt, and what kind of person he was.When you came right down to it, I was a shithead. A real asshole. Self-centered, reckless, and cruel. I tried to look tough, but it was all an act to cover up the fact that I was empty inside. Hollow. A big zero who despised myself and was incapable of loving anyone.I kept waiting for him to do something to prove his self-deprecating sentiments, but instead I was given examples of how he used to torment his brother, or how he used to be a rebel, or how he refused to let any of his former girlfriends get close to him so he would just break their hearts instead. It made for a stagnant read, as I was constantly waiting for him to do something, and instead was given constant flashbacks to things that have happened to him in the past. Because of this, I never truly got to know Joss for who he is now. I wasn't able to relate to him, or his struggles, and I couldn't reconcile who he said he was with who I was reading about.It also made for a completely stagnant romance. Putting aside my complete inability to believe that Alessa, the girl who was caught in Joss' house fire, would entertain any kind of romantic feelings for him after what he (unintentionally) did to her, I was unable to feel any kind of chemistry between them because I was unable to relate to Joss. At first, she admitted that she spent a long time hating him for what he did to her. But, being forced to face the stares of those around her because of her burns helped her to realize her inner strength, and with that newfound self-realization, the strength to forgive Joss. I was (and still am) completely skeptical of this kind of forgiveness. But even if I were able to set aside my skepticism, I have to wonder why a romance was introduced at all. It did nothing to move the plot forward, and if anything, it was distracting because I kept waiting for Alessa to realize that she couldn't be with the person who had left her disfigured. It almost seemed like it was used as a convenient plot tool, so Joss didn't have to deal with the guilt of hurting another person. Add Joss' profession of being in "love" with Sakti, the woman responsible for teaching him about primordial vibrations (more about this later) after a measly two interactions, and I was straining to refrain from rolling my eyes.I absolutely despised Joss' mother. His psychoanalysis of her was stereotypical and cliche (she was forced into a mother-like role at a young age and thus resents being forced to give up her dreams of becoming a lawyer to become a mother herself), and her reasons for being nothing short of a complete bitch do little to lessen my dislike for her. Her sole purpose seemed to be to create conflict - showing outright contempt for Joss and blatantly accusing him of being responsible for Eli's death - which did little other then create drama and suspense. But because I couldn't relate to Joss, I wasn't able to pity his situation.The actual storyline was really interesting. Everyone and everything in the universe is connected by "primordial vibrations" which work to sustain the whole universe. It's the consciousness that was found in the Garden of Eden, which Adam and Eve used to live in harmony with animals. For some reason, the ability to hear these vibrations, which sound like a constant "OM", is lost once we turn six, and because it's so traumatic, we repress its gloriousness from our memories. After suffering a blow to the head, Joss' ability to hear the OM is restored. His depression is lifted and he's suddenly filled with the desire to live a more integrity-filled life - meaning no lies, no violence and no eating meat. He gets together with a couple of scientists (Sakti and Seth), Sakti happening to be the cause of his blow to the head, to create a device which would allow for everyone to tap into the OM - they call it the Primordial Vibrations Device, or PVD. As the device's popularity grows, people begin to develop special powers. Joss suddenly has the ability to heal physical ailments, Alessa has the ability to heal mental ailments, Seth has the ability to project a light shield that protects him from physical harm and Sakti has the ability to reverse time.The introduction of the PVDs is also where I became skeptical again. I didn't understand how being tapped into an Edenic consciousness would give someone an ability. And if it did create special abilities, why wouldn't everyone have access to all of the abilities, if they're all connected? It was also during this time that the Creator God Samael became angry and began to unleash the ten plagues of Egypt, signalling the end of days. Again, certain things just didn't make sense. Joss describes his sister Callie as being starving and emaciated, after snow has fallen for two weeks straight, and food supplies begin to dwindle. I just couldn't understand how a wealthy home like which Joss lives in, would be completely devoid of food after only two weeks (or how someone becomes emaciated in that type of timeframe). He also describes how the snowbanks are towering at over ten feet tall, yet he is somehow able to leave his home and navigate to various places in town. With that much snowfall, wouldn't it be almost impossible to pass through it? Actually, wouldn't it be almost impossible to leave your house in the first place? These types of questions were frequent throughout the whole book, and I found myself constantly questioning things without much luck in finding any answers.Crashing Eden is a quick read, and the subject matter is definitely thought-provoking. Unfortunately, a lot of the material was presented in a lecture-style format, so there were parts where I felt like I was reading a history textbook. I never truly connected to any of the characters, and the ending was definitely a little cheesy. If you can overlook it's faults though, you will most definitely come away with an interesting take on creation and humanity's collected consciousness.