On the planet of Eloia, Leanora lives in a world ravaged by a phenomenon called the Mists, which stole the eyesight of nearly everyone in her community of Asanis. Some of Leanora’s eyesight returned in the years following the incident—a fact that she must hide from everyone except her father—but her best friend, Dex, was left completely blind. After a tragedy rocks Leanora’s world, she stumbles upon the truth about the Mists and their after-effects, a truth that alters the entire course of her life. Left reeling from their discovery, Leanora and Dex flee Asanis and set off on an expedition across their planet to a sparkling city by the coast, where they hope to make sense of the evil that’s poisoned their community. Their journey introduces them to new friends and enemies, challenging both teens to make difficult choices about their futures.
Author Britta Jensen offers an important word in the beginning of ELOIA BORN, assuring readers that while she isn’t visually impaired, the subject of blindness is handled with the utmost care. ELOIA BORN has an ensemble cast of characters with different disabilities, and though it serves a plot device, there are nuances in the story within each community. The conflict it creates is sometimes flimsy, but Leanora at least considers her visual impairment a part of her that doesn’t need to be cured. The book is told from both Leanora’s and Dex’s perspectives; Dex’s whiny tone gets tiresome quick, along with his various romantic relationships. His ongoing romantic conflict is a bit much, and often takes away page time from deeper struggles. Leanora’s character arc, however, is interesting, as she matures and survives during their expedition. It’s a rare YA read where the main couple questions their first love and grapples with their changing feelings for each other throughout the novel.
ELOIA BORN borrows heavily from The Giver—some will pick up on the familiar story beats in the world of Asanis—but uses it as a jumping off point to craft a unique journey. The world building is at times overcomplicated and confusing to grasp with so many names and conflicts thrown around. However, the world itself is beautiful: desert communities, lush rainforest, and strange but likeable creatures populate Eloia. The story does move at a fast pace, though at the detriment of certain key plot points. A lot of the ending—which includes a few important character reveals—is rushed, so the emotional beats don’t land with their intended impact, and everything the characters worked toward seems glossed over. Overall, ELOIA BORN is a good effort at YA sci-fi, and has a lot of room to expand on the existing world in future installments.
ELOIA BORN is a sweeping science fiction adventure filled with beautiful worlds and strange, loveable creatures and a unique young adult story that shows how teenage love can shift over time on an intense journey of self-discovery.
~Jessica Thomas for IndieReader