This is an ancient book from 1993 and for that I apologise. I’m sure plenty has been said about it already but still, I had the misfortune to read it, so I’m going to write about it. I came across it in a hotel bookshop in Morocco when I had already devoured The White Tiger and the excellent The Looming Tower. I thought I’d like it because I’d once read Ben Elton’s Blind Faith and I found that really engaging.
To be blunt though, I was bitterly disappointed. The whole book was plagued with cheap and lazy prose, the characters were weak and two-dimensional and Ben Elton has squandered what is essentially a great idea for a novel. The end of the world, brought about by human excess, is nigh and the rich are set to retreat into their ‘claustrospheres’ (high tech bunkers set to survive ‘planet death’.) The premise, as far as I’m concerned, is pretty good, but the execution is dreadful.
The worst thing about this book is that Elton’s bitterness oozes out of it at every pore. It’s a vehicle for his diatribes against Hollywood, it’s an opportunity to whine about the treatment of writers. His voice is that of a spoilt, petulant child throwing a hissy fit and I could hardly believe that this man wrote Blackadder!
I recommend then that you steer well clear of this book. Even if you like Ben Elton. Even if you’re desperate for something to read by the pool. Buy Le Monde and plough through that instead, even if you don’t read French. This Other Eden does make you question the world we live in… but for all the wrong reasons.