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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.

Short Synopsis of The Gardener

I’m skipping the short synopsis because the product description basically tells you the entire story. :/

My Thoughts on The Gardener

I love that this book will ask the reader to think about big things: the food crisis, global warming, moral and ethical responsibilities in bio-engineering and some other similar conundrums. Although each of these issues were superficially touched upon in the book, it was enough to make the mind wander.

What I didn’t love, however, was the plot-by-numbers unfolding of the story. It lead to a number of consistency problems. To give an example without offering a huge spoiler, Mason’s mother is supposed to be an alcoholic—I guess in an effort to add color to the story—but the moment it becomes inconvenient for the plot’s unfolding, it’s abandoned. That wasn’t the only time an established tack was abandoned for the sake of the plot either, which made the story feel unnatural.

Then there’s the problem with the character development, or more specifically, the relationship development. In the beginning, Mason was a well-established and likable character, but after Laila was awakened and he became smitten by her beauty, he became bland as though going through the pre-ordained motions. To make matters worse, there never seemed to be a true connection from Laila’s side. It sent the message that beauty is the only reason one should love, although the author may have been trying for the opposite.

At very least, Mason and Laila should have spent a few scenes getting to know each other on a level other than trying-to-unravel-the-big-conspiracy. It may have made the instant undying love connection easier to digest, if not plausible. On that note, the epilogue with its happily-ever-after ending was a let down.

Rating: Get It Used [C+] (?)

Comments on Review: The Gardener by S. A. Bodeen

  1. # liz wrote on April 7, 2011 at 9:40 pm:

    frankly i thought the book quite good.
    Despit wbing WAy below my reading capacity i found it compelling and a story i could relate to .

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