Author: S.A. Bodeen
Released: May 2010
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Target Age: 12 and up
Summary from Barnes and Noble: Mason has never known his father, but longs to. All he has of him is a DVD of a man whose face is never seen, reading a children’s book. One day, on a whim, he plays the DVD for a group of comatose teens at the nursing home where his mother works. One of them, a beautiful girl, responds. Mason learns she is part of an experiment intended to render teenagers into autotrophs—genetically engineered, self-sustaining life-forms who don’t need food or water to survive. And before he knows it, Mason is on the run with the girl, and wanted, dead or alive, by the mysterious mastermind of this horrible plan, who is simply called the Gardener.
Will Mason be forced to destroy the thing he’s longed for most?
The best part of this book for me was the strong male's point of view. Not that Mason never showed emotion because he did, though it never came across as cheesy or over the top. He does have his issues, quite a few actually. However, I didn't feel that he was really whiny about them. Mostly he just seemed matter of fact. Like this is the life I've been dealt, now let's deal with it. I think the issue that he has the most trouble with is not knowing anything about his father. Luckily, he has a great best friend Jack, and he helps Mason maintain some fun and spontaneity in his otherwise boring small town life. Jack also tries to keep Mason grounded when things take a turn for the strange. The Gardener was a fast paced read that left me thinking about the world and the things we do in the name of science for days after I had read it. I definitely recommend it, especially if you enjoy speculative fiction (Fiction that extrapolates from some phenomenon or theory and postulates "What if?".) If you are looking for a guy to love, some romance on the run, twisted with a bit of mystery, then I think you will enjoy this as much as I did.
S. A. BODEEN’S first novel, The Compound, earned her a “Flying Start” from Publishers Weekly and was chosen by YALSA as a Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. She lives in Oregon with her family.