Treasure (Seed Savers#1)
(Middle Grade/ YA?)
By S. Smith
Running into an old woman at church, Ana and her little group find out secrets about their world that many have tried to cover up: seeds. Even more so, they learn that all our food once came from them. The only problem now is the government wants to keep it that way.
Overall, the writing wasn’t poor. There were a few good lines in there with the occasional botched simile or two. One in particular compared something to a lazy cat and I’m still unsure what the author meant by it. But, usually, these bumps don’t bother me so much. What does bother me is poor dialogue! And unfortunately, this book has its fill.
I know, I know—this book is intended for kids. And in that way, it works. Sadly, I’ve heard a few say this is almost YA, though I’d very fairly call it middle grade, and low middle grade at that. The children speak so unnaturally that it feels like screeching in my ears. But there’s more than just that to cause me to hand out such a low score.
The characters are bland and run of the mill, as expected with such fare. I know many times authors wish to create an ‘everyman’ feel to their characters, and that’s fine, but in order for someone to enjoy it, we need something distinct to latch onto. Like so many other books before, I cannot discern the difference between the two main female characters. The only reason the youngest, Dante, sticks out is because he’s a boy. I really hoped for more.
Here is where everything goes wrong—and usually does. I was able to see instantly what the author was going for here. With our society slowly eating more and more processed food, sometime in the future, children may not know exactly where our food comes from. On top of that, with ridiculous new laws rewarding ownership over biological entities such as seeds, a strange world where someone owns the right to, say, the apple tree could exist. I think the idea is interesting, almost something Michael Crichton would do—and kind of did in his book Next.
However, in this book, I feel the author didn’t spend enough time realizing the world. So much of it seems disconnected. For one, wherever it is Ana lives doesn’t let anyone grow their own food, yet because New Jersey is such a huge dump, it is okay to do so there.
Added to this is the extremely weak plot. A quintessential element to plotting is tension. This is brought about by having a force to work opposite the protagonist’s goals. Intially, this author has it with her mysterious organization called GRIM. It is a group that tries to squash any homegrown food. Unfortunately, we never get to see them in action. The most we get is them following our heroes and …that’s it. Yikes! Scary!
On top of this, no problem ever surfaces. When I hit one line near the end of the book, I felt it summed up the entire story as a whole. Here it is:
Everything went as planned.
And when that is the summation of a book, you can kind of tell it needs work.
I think mostly I wanted more from this book. In a way, it felt like a failed eco-version of Fahrenheit 451. Too often things are explained to us, instead of being shown to us, and everything is given such a ‘bad guy’ feel, that a lot is missed. With this, I would’ve loved to see the author create a well-rounded argument dealing with processed food. I understand her viewpoint one hundred percent, but others—including myself—see it otherwise. Creating new hybrid crops and specially processed food is not as bad as its cracked up to be. In a way, the book came off sometimes as preachy, and not so much an adventure that will spark thinking.
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