June 8, 2012 at 1:00 am (Education, Reviews) (books, Christian fiction, dystopian society, fiction, gardening, homeschooling, kids books, reviews, S. Smith, Seed Savers, self-sufficient living, series, social commentary, Treasure, young adult)
I haven’t been this in love with a young adult series since Harry Potter. I haven’t been this in love with an individual young adult book since Lois Lowry’s The Giver, unless you count How To Buy A Love Of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson (but her book, though it features a group of teens, is not really for young adults as far as I’m concerned.) I plucked it out of my mailbox, opened it, and read it in one sitting… 221 pages of exciting young adult goodness! I devoured it, and it was delicious. Book One of Seed Savers, titled Treasure, is no misnomer. This book is truly a treasure!
Author S. Smith has written the latest and greatest of young adult dystopian society novels. In the spirit of the previously mentioned Lowry novel and and Monica Hughes’ Invitation to the Game, Smith has given us solid middle grade tale featuring a new (and somewhat real) futuristic threat – illegal gardening. It’s yet another great pre-cursor to students preparing to read Orwell’s 1984. Educators everywhere should be aware of this rising star in children’s literature.
The detailed history of how this society came to be is part of its unique twist. Most dystopian society stories don’t spend a lot time telling you how it got this way, just that it did and people didn’t notice, the path somewhat alluded to but not specific. Smith helps point out the steps leading up to this future with factoids that suspciously resemble things that are happening in both the farmlands and corporate America. From living organism patents made legal in the 1980’s to genetically engineered seedlings, Smith spells out just exactly how this future (though a little outlandish in a society newly obsessed with being eco-friendly in its marketing) could quite possibly go from where it is now to the kind of United States described in the book (corporations and the government in bed with each other making trouble for the little people – Banks, anyone?… in combination with the idea that a government can make a plant illegal – marijuana comes to mind). Yet, she does this effortlessly, without killing the flow of the story.
I personally love social commentary presented through the art of fiction. (You like this too? Check out this site: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/371512?uid=3739920&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=56242603693). I find it compelling and quite frankly the best way to address particular situations that when written about in a nonfiction format becomes an irate rant. I love the way it personalizes events and characters in a book so quickly, in a way that the average story cannot do. Get under the skin of an art fanatic… make it impossible for art to be appreciated, collected, loved (if you’re not a reader, check out the movie Equilibrium, then again, if you’re not a reader what’s up with you reading my blog? What brought you here? Leave me a comment.) Tug at the heartstrings of a gardener… attack the very core of their being by telling them in this reality, they can’t have one.
Needless to say, I loved it. S. Smith, you are brilliant, my dear, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. This one is going on loan to my nieces and nephews, is getting short listed on my very long list of required reading for my daughter who will one day be homeschooled. It will be the fun fiction to parallel our botany classes that week, the friendly reminder of why she will be taught to tend her own garden, and perhaps raise a chicken.
Visit the author’s website here: http://authorssmith.com/
Want to start your own garden (before its too late!), check out Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5Lu-7FIj_g
Also for fun, check out this blog: http://www.thisgardenisillegal.com/