Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

June 1

Comments: 1

Review: The Gardener by S. A. Bodeen

by Ann-Katrina

The Gardener Cover

Title: The Gardener
Author: S. A. Bodeen
ISBN: 978-0312370169
Story Length: 240 pages
Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction

Back Cover of The Gardener

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?

Three Quick Points About The Gardener

  • Point 1: Ample material with which to start a discussion. The book deals quite a bit with the changing global environment and its ramifications for the human race.
  • Point 2: Spotty character development. Mason, as a character, started out well enough, but when Laila was introduced the character development faltered and stalled.
  • Point 3: Plot by numbers. The unfolding plot was too convenient, even for a middle grade read, and a side effect was a problem with consistency. Continue reading »

1 Comment, add yours...

April 5

Comments: 8

Book Notes: The Gardener by S. A. Bodeen

by Ann-Katrina

The Gardener I’m coming upon three quarters of this book and I’m on the fence about it.

On one hand I love the premise and it’s swift. Using recent biological discoveries, Bodeen weaves a conspiracy story around the bioengineering of children who only need sunlight to survive. Despite this scientific angle, which could easily get boring too quickly, the story doesn’t slow down much as Mason takes it upon himself to rescue one of these children and winds up on the run from the people who created her.

On the other there is a plot-by-numbers feel to it and the puppy love Mason has for Laila feels inorganic and wedged into the story. Suspense is feigned; there are tense moments, but it’s easy to predict what will happen next. For instance, when the unnamed girl sees a picture of Dr. Emerson, she immediately recognizes the scientist. When Mason and the girl go to Dr. Emerson’s lecture, surprise surprise, Dr. Emerson takes one look at the unnamed girl and recognizes her. No big deal, until it’s turned into some amazing and earth shattering event. Plus, Mason mentioning how cute Laila (aka the unnamed girl) is every few pages and using it as a way to explain why he’s going to so much trouble for her is clunky. It was already well established in the opening chapters that he has a hero complex and his awe was put on display the first time he laid eyes on her.

The question for me is whether these detriments outweigh the redeeming qualities and so far the answer is no. Right now I’m hovering around a B-/C+ letter grade for this book, but I’m hoping the ending is awesome so I can bump it up to a solid B/B+.

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March 28

Comments: 3

Sunday Salon: Recently Read, Planned Reading, and Pens

by Ann-Katrina

Recently Read

My review queue is still a little backlogged, but I will set aside some time this week to go through it. In the meantime, here’s a quick rundown of some of the books I’ve this week.

Kin (The Good Neighbors Book 1)Kith (The Good Neighbors Book 2) Kin and Kith, Books 1 & 2 of The Good Neighbors, by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh are graphic novels about a girl named Rue discovering her faerie heritage. To make things more interesting, her grandfather (on her faerie mother’s side) wants to take over her city and she’s the only one who can stop it. Although I’m not overly fond of the illustration style (it’s not bad, just not my preference and I’ve run into a few consistency issues), and although I’m not fond of the sometimes stilted prose, I find the overall story to be entertaining—so much so that I can’t wait to see what happens in the third book.

wtf by Peter Lerangis wtf by Peter Lerangis was a romp with a darkly humorous twist. If you’re into character-driven novels, then this really isn’t it, but it’s great mental popcorn. The story is told in short vignettes that follow the actions of six prep school teenagers over the course of one night involving a car accident involving a deer, drug deals gone wrong, and horny couples hooking up in front of strangers. Even with that tidbit, I should mention there’s nothing entirely explicit. Yes, those things are on center stage, but many of the gritty details are left out. Overall, good read.

The Clearing by Heather Davis The Clearing by Heather Davis is my favorite read this week. It’s beautiful and sweet and a bit sad. After leaving an abusive relationship, sixteen-year-old Amy moves in with her great-aunt Mae. While in her care, she discovers a mist lining the forest and through it a clearing where she meets the eighteen-year-old Henry. Over time, the two fall in love, but there’s one problem: Henry (and his mother and grandfather) are stuck in 1944. It’s then up to the two of them to decide if and how they will be together.

Planned Reading

I think I may have strayed into book limbo; a place where I want to read, but have hit a reading slump. In any event, I hope I get out of my little funk soon because there’s a busy reading week ahead.

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa SchroederThe Gardener by S. A. BodeenWhite Cat by Holly Black

Pens & Other Cute Things

Index Tab Stickers
(I love those little index tab stickers!)

I went shopping at JetPens again. I only needed to get some pen refills, but I came away with seven new pens and some adorable index tab stickers. You can read all about it (and see pretty pictures) at Today, I Wrote…

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