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.
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