This month I read Fireseed One by Catherine Stine. As mentioned earlier, I received a copy of the book as a prize months ago and I finally decided to read it.
Possible spoilers ahead, depending on what you consider a spoiler, or if you're just that guy.
A brief description:
The year is 2089. Climate change, or some undescribed cataclysm, (or both) has caused sea levels to rise, melting the polar ice. The Arctic Ocean (Ocean Dominion) and far northern latitudes of Canada (Land Dominion) have developed a temperate climate. South of Land Dominion lies the Hotzone, a lethal poisoned land, full of roaming nomads who are depicted by the northern media as blood thirsty, violent savages who are just waiting for their chance to invade the North.
We are introduced to eighteen-year-old Varik Teitur, whose father was a world famous marine biologist. After his father's death, Varik, who had planned to become a doctor, is now struggling to keep his father's Ocean Dominion farm afloat. One day he discovers that his father's seed vault has been broken into, and the culprit is none other than Marisa Baron, the daughter of the richest man in Land Dominion, turned eco-terrorist.
Marisa soon reveals to Varik that his father was working on something big: Fireseed, a plant that was bred to be fast growing and resistant to all manner of poisons, radiation, and the brutal heat of the Hotzone. If Fireseed exists, it could be the answer to all the world's food problems.
After a a series of events, Varik and Marisa embark on a journey to discover if Fireseed ever existed, and if it still exists. On the way they encounter eco-terrorists, struggling refugees from the Hotzone, and a cult that grew up around the myth of Fireseed.
Now for the review:
Fireseed One is billed as a YA novel, a genre that is not usually on my radar when choosing reading material, so I'm not sure if it's just me or if it's the writing or the characterisation that was off. Varik spends a lot of time being very angry with Marisa, like everything she does in the first half of the book makes him fly off the handle. Then he switches gears and next thing you know they're cuddling in a bar. I knew it was going to happen (it really wasn't a surprise), but it seemed very abrupt. In fact I really didn't like Varik, (or Marisa and all her sulking) for probably the first 2/3 of the book. Its only when they stopped yelling at each other and accusing each other of treachery that I was able to enjoy the story.
The story itself was very good. From Ocean Dominion to Land Dominion, to the Hotzone, Varik and Marisa's journey is fast paced and engaging. It was also a bit formulaic. You know they are going to end up cuddling in a bunker, you know that they will achieve their objective. You know that when they are in danger they will be rescued. Again, it's probably the YA genre that allows for it. There are really no surprises. Even the answer to big mystery of the Fireseed cult founder is very obvious, even if it's really never actually stated, and I wanted to yell at Varik "It's your supposedly dead mother, stupid!" (that's my spoiler). The only part that I wasn't expecting was Varik's open-ended fate.
Overall, if I had read Fireseed One when I was fourteen, I would have immediately started writing my own version starring a much cooler and prettier version of myself. That's actually a compliment, despite everything I just typed in the last two paragraphs. It was definitely written for a younger audience in mind, and to be honest I'm pretty sure most of the things that bothered me about it are just the hallmarks of a YA novel.
For next week I'm going to read The Journey, by Michael Abayomi. Mr. Abayomi is a member of the Insecure Writers Support Group, and he has been promoting his 5-part Guardians series for the past few months, so I figured I'd give it a try.