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THE GARDENER by S.A. Bodeen

THE GARDENER

By S.A. Bodeen

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: May 25th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-312-37016-9
Publisher: Chelsea Green

Inspired imagination overcomes uninspired writing to keep this futuristic story trotting along. Fifteen-year-old Mason, with a badly scarred face and a football lineman’s body, loves biology and desperately wants to go to college. However, his mother detests the local megacorporation, TroDyn, which offers Mason the easiest route to his goal. Things go awry when Mason goes to assist his mother at her TroDyn job and winds up helping a strange, beautiful girl escape from the facility. The girl seems to be a human imbued with plant-like qualities so she can photosynthesize food instead of eating. It’s an original idea, left mostly undeveloped. Although Bodeen explores the obvious ethical concerns, she avoids a plunge into real speculative fiction by making her novel primarily a fairly suspenseful, escape-the-villains story, complete with one entirely evil, entirely cardboard antagonist. Mason, his buddy Jack and the girl come across well as characters, but it’s essentially B-level stuff. Nevertheless, it’s enjoyable, escapist fare that many readers will enjoy. (Science fiction. YA)