Book Review: “Rebels of Eden” by Joey Graceffa

Cover of "Rebels of Eden" by Joey Graceffa.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reading “Rebels of Eden” by Joey Graceffa! I read the first two books in the trilogy, “Children of Eden” and “Elites of Eden,” so I’m glad to pick up this last book and read it! Here’s the summary so we know what it’s about:

“Rowan is finally in Harmonia, an Earth-friendly, sustainable commune in the wilderness she always thought was dead. Even in this idyllic world, she finds no peace. Harmonia has strict rules—and dire consequences. Thinking about Eden is forbidden, but she’s determined to rescue the loved ones she left behind. Though they are in terrible danger, her pleas for help are ignored.

After months of living as one with nature, a shocking reminder of her past pushes Rowan to act. With the help of new friends, she infiltrates Eden. What she discovers is even worse than the situation she left behind. In the chaos of civil war, Rowan and her friends join forces with the second children and other rebels trapped inside. They fight for their lives, and for the future of humanity in this broken Earth.”

Worldbuilding development: 4 out of 5

Plot development: 3 out of 5

The plot overall is understandable, but there are, unfortunately, a few plotholes. What the heck happened to Elder Night after Rowan and the others got past her to get back into Eden, for instance? She never appears for the rest of the book, but I’m also sure she’s not dead. Also, where’s Ash while Rowan is all alone with the EcoPan? Why isn’t he there for Ash to tell him about her joining up with the EcoPan? I also thought that the ending was a bit too rushed, as well.

As for worldbuilding development, there is a great contrast established between how the people of Harmonia think (like Zander, for example) compared to Eden, as well as how certain rules and laws work in Harmonia as opposed to Eden. Even the details such as education and food are given attention in the beginning, and the opening chapters did a great job of outlining the sharp contrasts. The only thing I think I didn’t like about the worldbuilding was the ‘heart’ of the EcoPan concept at the end of the book. It felt a bit random to put in there, and I wish there was at least a little lead-up to it so it wouldn’t feel so random (though it was important for the ending).

Romance development: 3 out of 5

I feel like poor Lachlan got the short end of the stick when it came to the love triangle that Rowan was involved in. Though Lachlan was by Rowan’s side for a lot of the novel while we didn’t run into Lark until about halfway through, a lot of Rowan’s thought processes romance-wise went to her thoughts about Lark, given the events of what happened in the second book. I was surprised that Rowan somewhat-ended up with Lark at the end, given Lark’s betrayals (granted, this was due to Elliana interfering with her brain but still), but it also doesn’t feel like they are completely together due to Rowan now being the heart of the EcoPan.

There were also two minor romances that developed—one between Ash and Pearl/Angel, but there was also an established one between Mira and Carnelian. We didn’t see much of Mira and Carnelian together, but what was established was fine, but Ash and Pearl/Angel was far too rushed and they should have just stayed friends, especially since this is the last book.

Thematic development: 5 out of 5

This was a part of the book where “Rebels of Eden” really stood out. It continued on the discussion of what humans are like (are they good? Or meant to be destructive all along, no matter what?), as well as whether technology itself is a good thing at all. This book is definitely worth reading to explore those themes alone.

Character development: 3 out of 5

Rowan had an interesting inner battle with her previously-imprinted “Yarrow” personality that I wish could be explored more. I expected for her and “Yarrow’ to have a larger inner battle close to the later part of the book, but there wasn’t much other than “Yarrow” occasionally trying to bring out her worst self or taunting her when things went wrong. I also felt that Rowan could have been more skeptical of the EcoPan telling her that it needed a ‘heart’ to replace Aaron Al-Baz, its creator, and her immediately deciding to sacrifice herself to the EcoPan and be the ‘heart’ felt a bit too agreeable on her part, especially given all the previous questioning she has of everything (even Harmonia’s rules themselves) during the past parts of the book.

Lachlan and Lark, individually, lacked development, but Lark was more developed than Lachlan. I wasn’t expecting Lark to initially betray Rowan, but it’s hard to tell if it’s all because Elliana altered her brain, or if she really did feel how she felt so intensely all along. I’m not sure if that development was clear enough for me to understand overall.

I thought Pearl/Angel’s development was rather interesting. Not a route I expected to see happen, and I thought she would outright be killed by the end of the second book and never mentioned again, but I do like seeing this side of Pearl/Angel. It definitely gives her a more redeeming edge as opposed to the previous book, and though she was a minor character with a romance that developed too quickly with Ash, I felt that what I read of her overall was good. Mira and Carnelian (though also minor like Pearl/Angel) were both rather good for the most part to read.

Rowan’s Mom and Dad, as well as Ash, seemed to all lack some sort of development. At first Rowan’s Mom is more there to warn Rowan from leaving Harmonia and going back to Eden, and then there was an attempted redemption arc of sorts for the Dad before he ends up dying while helping the rebels. I was also surprised Ash didn’t play such a major role this time around in this book, especially given how vital his role was in the second book, and I wished I read more of him. I also think more individual development on Ash’s part might have helped his romance with Pearl/Angel, too.

Overall, I’m rating this book 3.75 out of 5 stars!

I do think this book was an overall solid conclusion to the trilogy, even if the ending did feel a bit rushed and some characters could use more development. It does overall wrap things up, even if there are one or two plotholes as well.

As for the trilogy overall, I’m rating it 4 out of 5 stars! It’s not perfect, but it definitely explores some wonderful themes, strong worldbuilding, and overall worth checking out!

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