The theme of Seed is one I consider particularly scary because it is so real. This actually happens in real life; I have watched reports on cults and am completely baffled at how they strip people from their personality and how the children born into them never knew and probably do not even want to know that there is another reality.
Seed portrays that reality so very well. It’s quite breath-taking reading about a girl who is discovering for the first time everything we take for granted. How she lives in complete bliss because she truly believes everything that is fed to her. How she simply cannot comprehend how someone would want anything other than the perfection she lives in. And how, when someone comes up who tries and explain to her some realities of the world, she simply cannot accept them as true because it goes against everything she was taught her whole life.
All the rituals and rules make perfect sense in the utter controlling environment. You can absolutely see how they would cause Pearl and the others to blindly believe what they are told. I think this is very well done. It’s not like she is stupid. She simply cannot conceive a different reality, because everything that is done there has a justification, one not only plausible but perfect, according to the world she grew up in. This dynamics was brilliantly developed in the book.
The sexual abuse is never openly stated but you know it’s there. And part of the ending was unexpected.
I do think some things could have been better addressed:
– In the beginning of the book, for a long time there didn’t seem to be any other days under than fridays, the day they were allowed to do whatever they wanted; I would have liked to know more about what the family did on the regular days, particularly our main character. We rarely hear about her picking fruit and stuff. The day has 24 hours; what exactly do they do the whole time?
– I think the romance line here was not very believable. I can totally understand Pearl falling for Ellis but not the other way around. He has been on the ‘Outside’. He should find Pearl beyond naïve, simply uninteresting. There is not a single clue that points to her being remotely appealing to him. It seems to me he should be much more drawn to Kate, for example. Granted, there was no obvious romance, but still, the whole ‘I won’t go anywhere without you‘s just didn’t stick to me.
– While the author has done a brilliant job creating a character growing up in this environment, how they would act and think, I believe the transition to when she finally starts realizing what is going on is not very well achieved. It felt to me that one minute she loved Papa S. and the next she hated him. I know there was effort there, but it just wasn’t believable to me. She never even found out what being a companion actually meant, but yet she seemed to loathe it in the end.
I would also like to know what happened to Papa S.’ beard.
I could have done without the whole Elizabeth and Sylvie’s spirits speaking to Pearl thing and especially the vision of her mother stepping over Papa S. It almost disrespects the narrative.
– And finally, I know that they completely believe what they are told but you cannot tell me a bunch of teenagers, in an age where their hormones are probably roaring, feel nothing when looking at each other in their wet underwear. Particularly the boys, it ought to ‘show’, if you know what I mean.
I am giving the book 4 stars because, despite the downsides, the writing made me feel what the character was feeling. Seed is written in a way which can be appreciated by young and older adults alike. It actually made me appreciate nature more, for instance. Not to mention freedom. Something so many of us take of granted. I wonder… What is worse? Being trapped or not realizing you are trapped at all? As they say, ignorance is bliss…
Read from February 17 to 19, 2015
I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.