Author: S. Smith
Publication Date: June 27, 2012
Number of pages: 233
Recommended age: 9+
Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
In a future where growing your own food is against the law, three young friends risk their safety by studying the illegal subject of gardening. The children’s mentor, an elderly acquaintance named Ana, entices the children with her description of the food she knew as a child–food unlike the square, processed, packaged food they have always known. Constantly watching, however, is GRIM, the government agency that controls the nation’s food source and keeps in check all potential troublemakers.
When Clare and Dante return home one day to find their tomato plant seized, and their mother jailed, they bolt, leaving behind Lily and Ana. Clare has heard of a place called “The Garden State,” and with their bikes, a little money, and backpacks, the children begin a lonely cross-country journey that tests them both physically and spiritually. Will they succeed in their quest to find a place of food freedom? And can they, only children, help change the world?
Green Book Festival 2013 Winner YA Category
UP Authors Fiction Challenge Winner
** The second book in the Seed Savers series, “Seed Savers: Lily” is also currently available and Book 3, “Seed Savers: Heirloom” will be released November 12, 2013, followed by a Blog Tour running between Nov. 14 and 30, 2013. **
My Thoughts: Claire (12) and Dante (7) are a sister and brother duo who live in a futuristic society where gardening is prohibited. The Green Resource Investigation Machine (GRIM) is the corporation in charge of policing the distribution and use of seeds. In fact, GRIM has been so effective in its job that even the language around seeds, planting, and gardening has been erased from the collective memory of society. In this society, nutrients and vitamins are distributed in tablet form instead, creating a complete disconnect between food and their point of origin.
There exists an underground movement known as the “Seed Savers” who are intent on keeping the knowledge alive and who collect and protect seeds from various vegetables and fruits. Claire, Dante, and their friend Lily meet Ana, a seed saver, who secretly teaches them about gardening and who gives them a few precious seeds. But when GRIM discovers their ruse, they confiscate their plants, imprison their mother, and the children flee, undertaking a dangerous cross-country trek, enlisting the help of seed savers along the way, until they reach safety in Canada(!).
I absolutely love the concept behind this book. In this future, dystopian world, there is no need to worry about post-apocalyptic warfare and violence. The problem is much more subtle in this original and clever story. Imagine a world where growing your own food is against the law! Seed Savers is an attempt to think through what would happen if people had no idea where their food comes from, the nutrients from food are only available in pills, and one corporation “owns” and controls all of the seeds. Ummm… Hello?! Do we realize how close we actually are to this reality? That’s what makes this book so brilliant.
The author cleverly integrates real events (changing the names of the corporations involved) to pinpoint where the decline in society began. For example, she discusses how some fictional corporations [*cough, cough* starts with “M” and rhymes with “ponsanto” *cough, cough*] created genetically modified seeds that are drought, insect, and disease resistant but that are also “terminator seeds” (the plant does not produce seeds). Hmmm… so how does a farmer plant next year’s crops? I guess they have to purchase the seeds all over again. That’s a real money maker! And, then there is the issue with cross-pollination occurring with neighboring fields who do not use GMO seeds. See the problem there?
Ok, I have to say it … This is me expressing my absolute outrage at a certain corporation being awarded the 2013 World Food Prize. The purpose of this prize is to recognize “…the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.” Grrr….
I think this story is an important one because it is quite conceivable that we are heading toward a society such as the one described in Seed Savers. I thought there was a great collection of characters with the two main characters Clare and Dante; Ana, their mysterious mentor; and the other seed savers they meet along the way. I do feel that Lily, Clare and Dante’s friend, abruptly exits the story and that felt a bit awkward. The second book in the series, Seed Savers: Lily focuses on her story so perhaps this will be clarified.
One final note is that there is a religious theme woven through the story. Clare, Dane, and Lily secretly meet Ana under the guise of Bible Study and I felt that this was a convenient and believable cover story. However, there are several prayers and passages from the Bible that are quoted throughout the story. There is even one point at the very end when Clare and Dante are terrified of being caught and Dante quotes “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” I felt that these passages from the Bible were out of place with the story and, frankly, I think the story would have flowed better without them.
My bottom line: I loved the concept behind this story and the themes covered in this book. Seed Savers presents a frighteningly real dystopian society where gardening is forbidden and corporations control food production and distribution exclusively. I think there are important lessons contained in this story and I highly recommend this book for tweens and teens who enjoy reading the dystopian genre and who are looking for a non-violent and thought-provoking story. Ages 9+.
*** This book was provided to us free-of-charge by the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. ***
Want to WIN a copy of Seed Savers: Treasure + a $10 Amazon gift card/PayPal cash?
Follow Mother Daughter Book Reviews
Won’t you please sign up by entering your email address below? Thank you!
Delivered by FeedBurner