Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen

Mason lives in a small town with his mother, a small town where he is the kid who was attacked by a dog when he was a child and still bears the scars on his face.  He is the teenager who has to go out at night and collect his mother from the local bar because she is too drunk to get home herself - it often seems lately that he is the one in the adult role and his mother is the irresponsible teenager getting into trouble for stupid things.  When Mason decides to apply for a summer science programme through TroDyn his mother completely looses the plot but refuses to tell him why.

When Mason discovers a beautiful teenager hidden away in the nursing home where his mother works his whole world is rocked to the core - especially when she snaps out of her coma and starts talking to him.  Helping the girl seems like the thing to do, but Mason is soon way over his head because the people who stashed her in the rest home want her back and will stop at nothing to get her back. Suddenly Mason is on the run with a girl he knows nothing about, and her one hope may be to turn her over to the people who caused her to be the way she is.  Mason is about to get a crash course in conspiracies and desperation - and it is a crash course he may not survive unscathed.

The Gardener is the second S.A. Bodeen book I have read in the past few weeks and was a gripping read with deftly written action scenes wrapped around a story about human nature and what it means to be human.  The characters are all flawed and complexly relatable - Mason is not perfect, but he is the perfect lead character for this story.  It is not often that you find a book that has been well written on such a sparse frame of words - the language may not be complex and the length of the novel is relatively short but you still get the full punch of the story.  This is one of those rare books for teenagers where the story is accessible to teens who struggle with reading, but does not give them a watered down version of the story. 

S.A. Bodeen is an excellent writer and I can't wait to dive into The raft next to see if the high standard of writing will continue.  The Gardener has elements of science fiction but can also be read as a straight forward action/thriller - the science fiction is a component of the story rather than the driving force of the story.  It is unusual to come across such a readable book that works for 'tweens and teens, as well as the teen boys and the teen girls.  Give Bodeen a try if you are looking for a good read, I doubt you will be disappointed.

If you like this book then try:
  • The compound by S.A. Bodeen
  • Checkers by John Marsden
  • Inside out by Maria V. Snyder
  • I am the cheese by Robert Cormier
  •  XVI by Julia Karr
  • The limit by Kristin Landon
  • Slated by Teri Terry
  • The line by Teri Hall
  • Proxy by Alex London
  • The barcode tattoo by Suzanne Weyn
  • When we wake by Karen Healey
  • Letters from the inside by John Marsden
  • Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Reviewed by Brilla

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