Everfree by Nick Sagan

TitleEverfree
Author: Nick Sagan
Genre: science fiction, dystopic (worldwide plague, post-apocalyptic world)
ISBN: 9780399152764
Length: 240 pages
Published: 2006
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: none

Reason for Reading: It is the final installment in a trilogy that I started years ago. I recently listened to the second book, Edenborn (review here) and couldn’t wait to finish the story.

Summary (from book jacket):

A small group of humans has survived the apocalyptic epidemic called Black Ep, a disease that ravaged the world and left them alone on Earth. The survivors gradually awaken others, who had been put into a state of frozen sleep to await a future when the disease might be cured. At first, everyone agrees on the basics: We’re lucky to be alive. We’re all in this together. Let’s look out for each other and build a better world.

But inevitably, as more sleepers are roused, there are those who disagree. People who remember power are waking up to a new world, and they do not intend to wait their turn politely. And from very far off indeed, one more surprise awaits the survivors–a shock that will transform the future for everyone in this post-plague, perhaps even post-human, world.

My Thoughts: I can safely say that this trilogy is one of my favorites. Each of the books are very different–caused, no doubt, by the changes in the characters and their world. At the same time, they are all excellently tied together.

This book does have an epilogue. While I usually don’t like them, I actually preferred it over the ending before the epilogue. Without the epilogue there’s a very “happily ever after” ending, all warm and fuzzy. And that would have been okay, if the rest of the trilogy wasn’t so serious and slightly doubtful. I found it a little funny that I didn’t want them to be completely happy 😕

SPOILER

At one point in this book, I honestly had the thought “Mind = Blown!” About halfway through the book, after the PHs (posthumans: Halloween, Fantasia, Pandora, Isaac, Vashti, and Champagne) started thawing the Gedaechtnis scientists (those who genetically engineered the posthumans), they find out there were other “children” (posthumans) created in a Hong Kong program! I couldn’t believe it when I heard that there were more Humans 2.0 out there!! I loved this crazy twist.

But my enthusiasm for such an unexpected surprise soon dwindled. I thought these Chinese posthumans would play a pivotal role in the rest of the book. I actually was thinking that the differences between the Gedaechtnis PHs and the Chinese PHs would cause something akin to war. The Chinese PHs were brought up in IVR knowing the task they would have when they returned to the real world (unlike the Gedaechtnis PHs). Also, they were scheduled to leave IVR at the age of 15, three years before the Gedaechtnis PHs, in order to sort of turn the Gedaechtnis PHs into sort of slaves. But, alas! This war/feud never materialized. In fact, the Chinese PHs had little to no importance throughout the rest of the story.

END SPOILER

I can sort of see a possible spin-off book or series from Sagan in the future. In this book, Halloween has dreams in which a microorganism calling itself Bill Angler and identifying itself as an alien from far away presents itself to Hal. He calls himself one of the Free, who will be coming to earth to sort of take over the humans that survived Black Ep. He says the Free sent Black Ep to weed out the weak. If the civilization could recover, then it meant something special. Anyways, I can sort of see this sort of thing turn into another story. And I think I would be greatly interested. Sounds a little like it could be The Host by Stephenie Meyer!

Memorable Quotes/Passages:

Retreating to fantasy he [Zhang Zhao] could process the deaths and the abandonment only within the confines of an old Hollywood movie, one of many stored in their media base. Wracked by survivor guilt, it was more comforting for Zhao to believe that nefarious machines hated humans, working to destroy them or enslave them to their will. I suppose this explains his perplexing behavior, treating me like an old friend, calling me “Morpheus”, repeatedly asking, “How deep does the rabbit hole go?” (p140)

Anyone who has seen the Matrix movies will understand the reference to the movie. And I found this even more interesting because of thoughts I had when I first read Idlewild, the first book in this trilogy. The PHs were raised in IVR until they were 18, when they returned to the real world. Sounds an awful lot like being in the Matrix and then being unplugged into a pretty desolate reality. I had this thought when I started reading Idlewild, as I’d already seen the first two Matrix movies by then. And then Sagan goes and actually references them 🙂 A later passage in the book names Malachi (the AI in charge of IVR) as the Ghost in the Machine, yet another Matrix reference!

What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your tongue. (p200)

Apparently this is a Yiddish saying, according to the main character. Wherever it came from, it’s very wise.

Politics is the act of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies. (p3)

Again, main character says this is Groucho Marx. True or otherwise in its origin, I love that statement!

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Edenborn by Nick Sagan (audiobook)

TitleEdenborn
Author: Nick Sagan
Narrated By: Holter Graham, Clayton Barclay Jones, Jenna Lamia, Beth McDonald, Maggi-Meg Reed, Johnny Stange and Oliver Wyman
Genre: sci-fi/fantasy (apocalyptic, dystopic)
ISBN: 978165592845
Length: 9.5 hours
Published: 2004
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: none

Reason for Reading: This explanation is longer than usual, so if you don’t really care why I read it, I’d go ahead and skip to my thoughts.

Okay, sometime back in high school–this would be at least 6 years ago–I picked up a book called Idlewild by Nick Sagan. At the time I didn’t know it was the first of a trilogy. The name of the book caught my eye, because there is an Idlewild, Michigan, a town that I believe isn’t too big, which I drive past on my way to my family’s cottage every year. So I picked it up. I didn’t realize that it was named Idlewild because part of the story took place in backwoods Michigan. Even more interesting, I read this book while on vacation at my cottage–it happens to be a mere 25 miles away from Idlewild, MI. I asked my dad if he, my uncle, or my grandparents ever went to Idlewild while at the cottage and he said my grandparents used to go there to dance in the 1950s-60s.

Long story short, I loved Idlewild and have been meaning to finish the trilogy lately. When I saw Edenborn on the audiobook shelf at my local library branch and needed an audiobook for my commute to work, I just took it on impulse. And I’m so glad I did. That’s why I read it 🙂

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Edenborn begins with a stark vision – a microbial apocalypse called Black Ep has wiped humanity from the globe. Yet all is not lost. Six individuals have survived the epidemic and are now committed to the task of rebuilding a peaceful civilization. But not everyone shares the same vision, and soon two very different societies begin to form.” As we follow the children from each “family,” someone – or something – begins to threaten their innocence. And as the mystery mounts, a new biological threat moves against them. Now the architects who gave breath to this new world must scramble to protect their children from a two-front assault. It’s a race against extinction.

It’s essentially a dystopic novel. Black Ep is a plague from which only a handful of genetically altered humans (actually Human 2.0, as they’re not homo sapiens technically) managed to escape. They’re struggling to repopulate the human race. So it’s not “sci-fi” like outer space/aliens and it’s not “fantasy” like vampires/werewolves/etc.–it’s just a bleak look at a future of the world as envisioned by Nick Sagan.

My Thoughts: I was hesitant to read Edenborn without rereading Idlewild first, since it’d been so long since I read it first. But it turned out that I didn’t really forget much that was important. I remembered that a handful of teenagers were raised in what was called the IVR, a virtual reality computer program akin to The Matrix. And when they found out their lives were a sham and what the real world was like, some of them went berserk. Which I can totally understand. And I remembered Black Ep, which is pretty important to the story. But I had forgotten which survivors were friends with who and the fact that one of them killed off almost half of the total number, but that wasn’t very imperative to this installment.

I really liked this story. It is some time later from the end of Idlewild in that the original survivors now have grown “children” (what they call “water babies” as humans can no longer procreate naturally due to the crazy meds they take to help their immune systems). And there are two sets of “children” and their “parents”–one living in Munich, Germany, the other in Luxor, Egypt (or it might be Thebes). They have very different ideologies and lifestyles. But then another “child” pops out of no where (almost) and creates some havoc. And…well, it’s hard to gush over the book without giving it all away, so I won’t say much more than this: If you like/love Idlewild, give Edenborn a chance 🙂

Audiobook Format Thoughts: There was a cast of voices and, in this instance, I loved it. Each chapter had one of seven characters narrating it. So there were seven narrators for the book. But the narrator was the same throughout the whole chapter, reading narration and dialogue both. So, if Halloween and Pandora were having a conversation in Halloween’s chapter, only Halloween narrated the dialogue. I especially loved Penny’s voice, as read by Jenna Lamia. She had such a great “teenage” voice–attitudinal and whiny and very dramatic/expressive.

Memorable Quotations:

Idlewild sits right in the heart of the Manistee National Forest. The town’s protected by 500,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness.
-Pandora (Disc 6, Track 4)

I like this quote just because Idlewild is so close to my favorite place on earth, a small inland lake within the Manistee National Forest.

Manistee National Forest

even though it's edited, the trees are beautiful and the forest is so dense up there