Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review: The Gardener by S. A. Bodeen

Tags: YA, sci-fi, thriller, biotechnology


Mason lives with his mother, and the only thing he knows of his father is a faceless figure reading from a children’s book on a DVD. His mother first played it for him when Mason was younger and had his face mauled by a dog, and since then it’s always been comforting for him.

When Mason plays the DVD in front of a group of comatose teens his mother is carrying for on her job, one of them, a beautiful girl, miraculously wakes up. She immediately warns Mason that they have to run away from TroDyn, the company based in town. Who is this mysterious girl with the horrifying scars all down the backs of her legs, and what does TroDyn want with her? As Mason aids the girl in evading TroDyn, he stumbles across a shocking experiment that might change the future of mankind…


I have not yet read S.A. Bodeen’s first book, THE COMPOUND, although I’ve heard it’s excellent in an almost creepy way. And after reading THE GARDENER, I’m willing to read anything she writes. THE GARDENER is a high-quality sci-fi thriller that will appeal to both male and female readers.

Mason is a readily understandable and likable protagonist. Scarred from a young age, this hulking football player nevertheless has something akin to a hero complex: he will go to great lengths to help others out, and once he starts helping he won’t stop until it’s finished. The uniqueness of his character makes his subsequent adventures with the girl and TroDyn follow almost naturally. He’s the perfect protagonist, with bits of both underdog and hunk in him.

THE GARDENER rides the line between sci-fi and dystopian. The futuristic aspects of this novel are well-researched and presented in a reasonably comprehensible manner: the book isn’t striving to educate us on biotechnology, but it also doesn’t plop us into the middle of a woefully underdeveloped world. We can figure out everyone’s motivations—with the exception of the story’s true villain, who pops up rather suddenly and with little preparation.

THE GARDENER isn’t perfect, with its caricaturesque villain and uneven pacing, but it is nevertheless a satisfying read that had me on the edge of my seat and flipping pages far into the night. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a unisex “softcore” sci-fi thriller.

Similar Authors
Scott Westerfeld

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3.5 out of 5 - It is eerily appropriate for this book... but it actually scares me quite a bit if I look at it too long. You should read the book to find out how it's related to the story!

Feiwel & Friends / May 25, 2010 / Hardcover / 240pp. / $16.99

ARC gifted from Talya, also received from publisher for review. Thanks to both!


  1. I haven't read this yet, but now I can't wait. It rides the line between sci-fi and dystopian? Yep, count me in.

  2. Thanks for the review! I've been reading a lot of sci-fi/dystopian books lately, and can't wait to check this out.

  3. I liked this one too - but think it would be better without the epilogue!


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