Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Gardener by S. A. Bodeen


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.
Mason isn't supposed to know about the Greenhouse. He isn't supposed to meet the beautiful girl who is part of the experiment, and who doesn't need food or water to survive.

Now, Mason is on the run with the girl. And the mysterious mastermind of this gruesome plan, who is simply called the Gardener, wants them both, dead or alive.

The Gardener explores themes of world hunger, the ethics of scientific experimentation, social responsibility and the power of the individual. I wasn't able to make much of a connection with the characters in the book.  The themes and plot took up most of the writing, leaving the characters merely as a thin way to transport the story.  Mason falls for Laila much too quickly and is entirely too eager to look past her oddness, strange history and risk his life for her. The villain of the book was non-existent for most of the chapters and thr confrontation came about rather easily, especially after such a long build up.   More time needed to be spent on this introduction so that, as readers, we could become invested in Mason and care about his quest and his well being. Without this, I was interested in what had happened to Laila and how Mason was connected to her story, but I found myself skimming rather than reading.  I am coming to discover that as unique as a plot or setting may be, without excellent characters to hold me inside a story I quickly lose interest. I need to feel for my characters and become involved in their journey.   

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