THIS SIDE OF PARADISE by Steven L. Layne

THIS SIDE OF PARADISE

Age Range: 12 - 15

KIRKUS REVIEW

Paradise comes at a price in this taut SF thriller by newcomer Layne. High school junior Jack Barrett always knew that his father was a perfectionist, but it’s been even worse since Dad started working for Eden Corporation. Now his mother drinks, his grandmother frets, and his rebellious younger brother Troy lives to annoy their father. When Dad insists on moving to the Eden-owned village of Paradise, where the homes are luxurious, the landscaping impeccable, and all the inhabitants serious, hard-working, and content, Jack soon suspects that there is something very wrong indeed. Why isn’t Mom there to greet them? Where does Troy vanish in the middle of the night? And what mysterious power does Mr. Eden, the company’s owner, hold over their father? Jack’s a likable teenager, with an appealing self-deprecating tone, but the other characters are paper-thin. Cocky, iconoclastic Troy is less charismatic than arrogant; Gram, while sassy and resourceful, can also be irritatingly omniscient; and Jori, Jack’s love interest, is simply too beautiful and spunky for belief. In fact, the entire plot is utterly preposterous—the secret of the village certainly won’t surprise anyone who has read any of the myriad variations on its dystopic theme—but the breathless pace and tidy resolution of dangling ends partially compensate for its implausibility. If Layne has not created the subtle commentary on human progress that he aims for, he certainly has crafted an entertaining, suspenseful thriller with a genuinely chilling villain. Good fun. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-9712336-9-1
Page count: 215pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2001