Monday, May 3, 2010

The Gardener by SA Bodeen + Contest!

Pub date June 2010.

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. She is part of a horrible experiment intended to render teenagers into 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 evil plan, who is simply called the Gardener.

Will Mason be forced to destroy the thing he's longed for most?
(book back blurb)

Depending on how this book is pitched, it could either be science fiction or horror. The whole genetic mutation slant can totally be science fiction but creating a master race of kids that don't need to eat is kind of Children of the Corn-ish. Very creepy.

The plot was a little slow to start but once the robotic girl got involved, things got interesting. While I felt the writing dragged in some parts, alluding way too long as to what was all really going on, it kept me wanting to read until the end, especially when Mason started to develop feelings for the girl whose name, for most of the time, he didn't even know.

Is that wrong of me? Here I stand, slamming those horrible "OMG I lurve heeeeeeeeeeem" plots where the MC's female and has known the dude for like 30 seconds. Mason's situation, on the surface, isn't any different. The main plot takes place over the course of about 24 hours. 36 at most. Yet by the end he's so compelled to make sure this girl is okay and drawn to her that he can't bear to leave her behind. But to me they are profoundly connected. To the outside world, they're both freaks: Mason with his scarring and the girl with her being, you know, part plant. Yet they understand each other and both see beyond that. Not to mention I think anyone would want to make sure a human they connected with was okay after finding out they're being used as a science experiment. I would think that's inherent. But does this make me a hypocrite? It's okay because it's a guy but not if it's a girl? Maybe it's okay because the girl doesn't berate Mason and treat him like shit? Maybe because she's not a stalker but merely pseudo-plant life seeking sunlight? Maybe because Mason isn't so fantasmagorically in love with the girl that that's all he talks about? Someone help me here.

The whole "world gone crazy" aspect is pretty damn creepy. The science they talk about in the book, the inevitability of the earth running out of food, is true. Like The Hunger Games takes reality TV to a whole new level, The Gardener takes sustaining human life to a whole new level. The scary thing is, who's to say this concept, of creating a race of people totally self-sustaining, hasn't been thought up already? Who's to say it's not in the developmental stages yet? It's freaky the lengths people might go to in order to survive. I liked that creepy aspect and I think because of the fact that it's thisclose to being real, it's even creepier.

The writing itself, I don't think, was anything to write home about. It was compelling enough. It got me from one end of the book to another. I wish I felt what Mason was going through more than be told what he was going through. While I liked his story, I felt he was a little hard to connect with at times, like the story was just being reiterated to me.

I didn't see the twist at the end coming, not entirely anyway. I have my suspicions about what the deal was with Mason's dad but they were only half right. Sort of. Still, I liked it. Not the most original of endings but I can deal.

Overall, a decent read but I think one that only needs to be done once. It has a good creep factor and the story will probably skeeve you out a bit but it'll lose it's luster if you read it more than once.

Contest Time!!!

Just fill out the form below to win my ARC of The Gardener!


Christa said...

Oooh... sounds interesting. Thanks for the giveaway.

Love the cover - gives a sci fi / horror feel, just like you described the book. : )

misskallie2000 said...

Chilling cover and creepy. I like the concept and would love to read to see just how the author carried this to the end.
Thanks for the opportunity to enter.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Maria D'Isidoro said...

The premise sounds fascinating. I love horror and I've been getting into scifi more, so this sounds right up my alley story-wise. Some of my friends are also looking for new scifi and I know this would interest them.

As for the romance, I don't believe that one day romances are TOTALLY out of the question. And if they're being chased, the adrenaline does speed up the process. So it's believable at least, if not sustainable.

My problem with female centric romances like that is there's usually no motivation behind the attraction other than physical chemistry and the allure of a tall dark stranger. Part of your feelings could very well be just a backlash of female saturated narrations. It COULD BE that your reacting to too many girls swooning after the most perfect lunch date EVA. But if there's an honest connection, I can stomach it.

Kaye and Roiben from Holly Black's Tithe strikes a decent balance for me, not perfect but not insulting either. Kaye and Roiben are both attracted to one another after their first meeting, but they don't even start any sort of relationship after a week of hell, during which they discover a great deal about each other.

Aaaand I suppose that's all I have to say until I get my hands on the book.

Donna said...

This is one I'd definitely recommend despite the Bites rating. It's good but not that good, you know?

Maria, thank you! The situation female MCs are put in are usually drastically different than males. I understand the whole brains function differently thing but at the same time, not every chick goes buck shit for a guy the second she sees him either. Guys are just as hormonal. Or the adverse, girls can be just as level-headed.

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