Monday, January 23, 2012

Where's My Bookmark: Fires of Eden by Dan Simmons

I put off the vacation book hunt until the last minute, so Friday before last found me swapping out possible selections literally until our shuttle arrived. One thing was for sure, I would be taking along George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, but I envisioned a week of beachside reading and even that 800 page tome couldn't possibly fill it all (plus airport delays and plane reading...).

I did limit myself to mass markets, so that made it a bit easier. And for the sake of variety, I tried to cover all of the major subgenres. I had horror down to Peter Straub or Dan Simmons when I realized that the obvious choice was staring me in the face! In 1994, Dan Simmons released a book called Fires of Eden, in which a series of missing persons occurs at a new Hawaiian luxury resort. Perfect!

Well, Game of Thrones lasted me through the majority of the trip and I finally cracked open Eden the day before we were set to leave. I have to say, it's a fun vacation/plane/beach/anytime read.

Hawaii is in the midst of a historic volcanic eruption. The new Mauna Pele luxury resort should be packed full of tourists, but a series of murders and disappearances plagues the location. Byron Trumbo would like to unload the money pit as soon as possible, but bad publicity and a growing number of bodies may hamper his efforts. Things only get worse as he tries desperately to cover up the events. Meanwhile, Eleanor Perry has just arrived, set on following the path laid out in her great aunt's journal. Aunt Kidder visited the same spot back in 1866 and experienced something similar to the events of today. Along with Cordie Stumpf (nee Cooke -- of Summer of Night) and a local with more than a passing knowledge of Hawaiian folklore, Eleanor will do everything in her power to stop the inevitable disaster at Mauna Pele.

Amongst the ever growing list of Simmons's accomplished novels, Eden no doubt earns its fair share of criticism. It's a fun story, though, packed with Hawaiian lore that many are probably not familiar with. Simmons also ties in Samuel Clemens' (Mark Twain) writings on the area, making him a main character in the 1866 flashbacks of Kidder's journal.

One review referred to the book as a sort of environmental horror story, which is kind of appropriate. Hawaiian gods and goddesses wreaking havoc on a greedy developer's golf resort sure makes for great entertainment and a really quick read.

Fires of Eden is unfortunately out of print at the moment.

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