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This Side of Paradise

This Side of Paradise

By: Steven L. Layne
Publisher: Pelican Publishing
Publication Date: June 2010
ISBN: 978-1-5898-0254-4
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: June 18, 2010

Not only is this a heart-pounding read for adults, but this incredible YA also received the Hal Clement Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for Young Adults. And, boy, were they dead-on correct with that choice.

We begin our story inside the home of a happy family. Well…let’s say a normal family. Dad is a hard working man who loves his new job at Eden – which is, literally, the perfect company to work for. His two boys are Troy – who possesses a rebellious nature that’s equaled only by his handsome face and extremely well-defined muscles; and, Jack – who is a kind, decent young man who wants nothing more than for his family to live a happy existence. Mom is a good woman, too. Although, lately, as Dad has started talking more and more about the world of Eden, and has begun to chastise Troy for being hard-headed and obnoxious, Mom has taken to hiding various bottles of alcohol around the house so she can take a “snort” to calm down. The other person to make up the household is Gram. Gram is a great lady who the boys are so close to that they all form a tight triangle, and take care of each other when Mom and Dad begin to “lose-it” right in front of them.

Soon, Dad comes home and lets the family know that they are moving to a company house on company property, and the boys will be attending a private school owned by, you guessed it, the company. Eden is a place that has built its own world far away from the hustle and bustle of regular life, and they’ve titled their community "Paradise."

Almost immediately after Dad’s strange announcement, some extremely odd things begin to happen. A man with a black hat and long overcoat appears at one of Troy’s games and takes pictures of him as he’s competing in a championship wrestling match; Dad gets almost vicious with Troy as his loud mouth gets him into trouble; and, Mom disappears – supposedly to go set up their new house in Paradise. The world is soon turned upside down once the boys ride through the gates of this supposed utopia. Jack finds himself choking with fear as the people around him begin to lose themselves in the eerie new world they call home. Only a young woman named Jori who operates the gates of this Heaven on Earth seems to be a normal human being, and will end up having to help Jack save his family from their imprisonment.

Every page is an adventure in this fantastic story. The writer takes us from strange and compelling to eerie and off-the-wall scenarios that literally keep you hooked until the very last page.

Quill says: Shut off the cell phone and turn off your computer. Leave the light on as you read, and check under the bed every once in a while to make sure that no demon is hiding there. This is literally the book for anyone who has ever thought there was something more than a little “off” about their relatives.

Feathered Quill

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