Source: Uncorrected Proof from Around the World Tours
Will be published 05/25/10.
(Author Website) (Book Page)
Mason has never known his father, but longs to. All he has of him is a DVD of a man whose face is never seen, reading a children’s book. One day, on a whim, he plays the DVD for a group of comatose teens at the nursing home where his mother works. One of them, a beautiful girl, responds. Mason learns she is part of a horrible experiment intended to render teenagers into autotrophs—genetically engineered, self-sustaining life-forms who don’t need food or water to survive. And before he knows it, Mason is on the run with the girl, and wanted, dead or alive, by the mysterious mastermind of this gruesome plan, who is simply called the Gardener. Will Mason be forced to destroy the thing he’s longed for most?(Summary from publisher site.)The Gardener is the second published book by S. A. Bodeen. I haven't read her first book, The Compound, before reading this uncorrected ARC. The Gardener is not an unknown plot to people of my generation. We grew up in the midst of 1980's and early 90's cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the original) and Captain Planet. Stories that were meant to make people aware of the effects of pollution and the effect humans have on the planet. The Gardner deals with famine and overpopulation rather then pollution, but the end result is very much the same. The loss of the ability our planet will has to sustain the growing human population.
The premise of this story is very Science Fiction as it deals with using humans as guinea pigs in an interestingly unique plot to solve the problem of famine. Mason has never known his father, and knows that his best ticket to getting a college education is using his brains. When he goes to visit his mother, who works in a nursing home, to confront her Mason meets across a beautiful teenage girl who suddenly wakes from her coma. From the moment Mason meets her he feels an undeniable pull to protect her. This protectiveness leads Mason on a road to learn more about her, why she never drinks or eats, and eventually about his own past.
I felt that this novel was really interesting even for someone, like me, who doesn't read a lot of Science Fiction. It would definitely be a good choice for readers that enjoyed Candor. I also think that, on the note that the novel ended, there could be a lot that can be done in a sequel. I was left with questions, and wonder if Bodeen plans on follow this novel with another. I will say that I agree with other reviews in that there were lags in the novel, but as The Boy says all novels lag once in a while. The lag times in this novel didn't stop my interest in the story.
One thing I will say about the book was seeing a boy be that protective over a girl he just met. I know I complain night and day about how the Twilight series ended up going, and how Bella talks incessantly about Edward's looks and god-like abilities. The difference between that and Mason being protective over a girl he just met and has only known maybe 48 hours is this; he doesn't wax poetic about her looks every other sentence. He knows she's beautiful, and he says it, but he also knows how her looks and ways of making him melt aren't all that's going on in the world. It was very sweet to see a male character have a true affection for a girl rather then obsess about her looks. He knows next to nothing about her, but he wants to. It's that drive that makes him take every step he can to help her. Not in a love sick way, but in a very sweet and noble way. You know from other events in the book it isn't because she's a girl. It's simply Mason's personality.
Definite read for Science Fiction fans.
Other Reviews for The Gardener:
Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books
So Many Books, So Little Time