The Gardener–Post #2: The Verdict

Well, I just finished The Gardener, S.A. Bodeen’s new novel (see my review of The Compound), due out in June.  I really, really liked it–with only one small complaint.

In The Gardener, the main character–Mason–lives a suburb of Portland, Oregon, with his slightly dysfunctional mother; he has never known his father.  He visits his mother at work one day and discovers a beautiful girl–who has some serious issues; for one, she was in a waking coma until he accidentally woke her.  But as the story continues, you find out there’s WAY more going on both in Mason’s town and in the world of the nameless girl than anyone could ever imagine.

It almost hurts me to describe the one flaw, because I’m seriously hoping it changes when the book is officially released.  The subtitle, on the cover of the book, reads ‘This greenhouse…grows humans”; this kind of takes the mystery right out of the book.  That very mystery was part of what I so loved about The Compound, and I fear this one little line–combined with what is, right now, an overly descriptive back cover, takes some of the fun out of this story–but note, I say ‘some of the fun’–not all of it.  It still was a real page turner, and more than worth my time.  I’d definitely suggest it to others, especially those who liked The Compound.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The first words I spoke upon finishing this book–about fifteen minutes ago–were ‘I can’t believe I read that entire book for that ending’.  My husband asked ‘it was THAT bad?’–and no, it wasn’t ‘that bad’.  I guess not, anyway.  It was a good book.  It held my attention for the past two days, and I finished it quickly–that typically means that I liked it.  And I went online to find out when the companion book–not sequel, companion book (see below for an explanation of that)–comes out.  So I must have liked it.  Right?

Here’s the problem with ‘Teeth’.  It was utterly unbelievable at times.  And it was a story that takes place under unbelievable circumstances; a basic summary of the book would be…girl lives in post zombie apocalypse, and living in a post zombie apocalypse, well…it sucks.  If this sounds like it is a horror novel, well, you’re wrong.  The zombies don’t seem to bother anyone–so much so that even while being pulled at by said zombies (though they ARE behind a fence) and even after watching your own mother turn into one (don’t worry, this is not a spoiler, it happens in the first ten pages), the main character still has time to contemplate why the boy she likes does not like her back.  So NOW you’re thinking ‘oh–well it is a funny story, then’.  Wrong again.  This book really takes itself seriously, even when moaning zombies surround a house harboring a teenage girl who is excited about her first kiss.  I mean seriously?

Ok.  Maybe I didn’t like the book.  Except that I DID like the book.  I am so torn.  I don’t know.  Read it yourself and come to your own conclusion.  Clearly I don’t have one of my own.

The Gardener–Post #1

This morning during SSR time I started reading The Gardener, S.A. Boodeen’s new book (please see my review of her first book, The Compound); four SSR periods later, I am on page 112.  It is a good book.  Stay tuned for Post #2, which will include a full review.

Please note:  This book is not yet released, but is available for pre-order for its July release.  Or, if you are one of my students, you can just borrow my ARC.  (Vocab term–ARC–advanced reading copy aka–most of those books I brought back from my ‘teacher conference’!)

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire

The Hunger Games

Katniss lives in District 12, the farthest district away from the Capitol in a futuristic dystopia (that means that life is not so good); the Capitol has complete control of everyone and everything, including the Hunger Games.  The Hunger Games are a kind of extreme reality show where contestants, chosen at random by lottery, are forced to fight to the death.  As a main character in this story, Katniss is, of course, one of the contestants.

There is little I can say about this book–and its sequel Catching Fire, which I liked just as much (though something that happened in Chapter 10 did annoy me, though briefly)–that will be as true as this…it is amazing.  Read it.  Share it with others.  I’ve not read a book I’ve enjoyed this much in a long, long time.

Warning–it is a little sad.

The Compound

The Compound

What can I say, I love end of the world stories–and this one was no exception.  Living underground for the past six years, Eli was ‘protected’ by his billionaire father at the time of a great nuclear attack.  The billionaire dad built a bomb shelter so fancy, it made me wonder why anyone would want to leave…and then I kept reading, and found out why.  This book is a real page turner;  I finished it in one evening, not because it was a quick read, but because reading it was ALL I DID until it was finished.

The Dead and the Gone

The Dead and the Gone

This is not really a sequel to ‘Life as We Knew It’; it is more like a companion book, kind of like the Giver books by Lois Lowry.  In both novels, the main premise is that the moon got knocked out of its orbit by a meteor, and this causes all kinds of terrible environmental disasters that threaten to eradicate the human race.  ‘Life’ takes place in an unnamed suburb and is told from the point of view of a girl, whereas this book, ‘The Dead and the Gone’ is told from the point of view of a 17 year old Puerto Rican American living in New York City.

I read this book because I had a love/hate relationship with ‘Life’; my relationship with ‘Dead and Gone’ was more hate/hate.  It is not a badly written book, and it most certainly is a page turner, and anyone who read ‘Life’ will want to read it to the end, as I did.  But it is SO DEPRESSING.  Additionally, while I’m one of the biggest anti-censorship advocates I know, I won’t say kids shouldn’t read this book, but I will say that I’d think twice about giving it to a younger child.  There is no language, no sexuality, no drug use, not even any real violence…it is just…disturbing.  Imagine what would happen in NYC if electricity stopped and food supplies stopped and water became polluted and the sun got blocked out…whatever you are imagining, that’s what goes on in this story.  May this type of tragedy NEVER actually become a reality.