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Earthseed

Earthseed - Pamela Sargent A long time ago, in a high school far away, I remember coming across EARTHSEED tucked among the broken paperbacks. I never picked it up because it looked like the cover would break if I even touched it. I skipped it over for other greats from the 1980s because my library was that backwards. When I got the chance to read and review this one, though, as well as interview author Pamela Sargent, I jumped at the chance.EARTHSEED follows fifteen year old Zoheret as she lives and grows on a spaceship run by a computer named Ship. Ship has been parent, caretaker, mentor, and friend since the day she was born, grown from eggs and sperm never to know her real parents along with dozens of other kids. Her destiny – to populate a new planet now that Earth is pretty much caput. But for Zoheret and her friends, things are not as they seem. When the backstabbing starts and the claws come out, it is every kid for him or herself.I should probably start by saying that this book really gets only 3.5 out of 5 stars. This book succeeds for me mostly on its impressive plot. Zoheret’s story is like LORD OF THE FLIES meets outer space, with kids who backstab for survival, forests full of traps, and a ship pushing its wards to succeed at all costs. It’s a story worth telling, and Sargent does an amazing job of introducing new twists that complicate matters for Zoheret. And I have to give kudos to Sargent for being rather ruthless with her turns in the story. There be death and chaos and blood in this one, folks.But what this book lacks is something I’ve found to be the norm in books from the 1980s. The writing is dry and stiff, with a cardboard-like consistency to it. Told in third person, I found it excruciatingly hard to connect with Zoheret. Likewise, her shipmates were a revolving door of names, albeit multicultural names – we have Jews, Arabs, Japanese, Chinese, plain old Americans and kids of mixed descent, all born from eggs and sperm whipped together by a machine and grown on the ship. But none of these names have any real personalities. Zoheret herself is relegated to a dry tone and kept at an arm’s length, which can be understandable given that she was raised by a computer, but it’s not great for reading.As I’ve said, the writing is dry and the characterization isn’t great. Another issue I had that takes it down another half star is the fact that there is no foreshadowing. You find a book like CINDER where the author loads us with heavy foreshadowing that is painfully obvious, but in EARTHSEED we find the opposite. Twists occur without any build up, leaving us dropped into a new situation and caught off guard. I loved the twists, but when you can’t see them coming or rationalize their sudden appearance, you’re going to end up all like, “Did I read that right? Am I an idiot?” But yeah, I loved the twists once I had a chance to read and understand the situation. With some of the twists, especially later on, the twists seem like a tacked on afterthought.EARTHSEED is a book where I can see a lot of people being on the fence about it. It’s definitely not the same style of book you see from 21st century YA. Still, it has been optioned for film by a Twilight screenwriter/producer/someone Twilight related. And I would definitely be there opening day if this movie were ever produced and released, but to be honest, it feels like 95% of YA books are optioned these days, and only 1% are ever made into movies. This one just doesn’t feel like it will make it far, but I can hope! It would indeed by EPICCCC.Also, who is the guy on the cover – Manuel? Dmitri? Random other guy? I still can’t figure it out.VERDICT: Although a bit dry, EARTHSEED is worth a read if only for an epic plot. The science fiction genre is a fave, and this book reminded me why I love it.