I am finally starting to get through the TBR pile that
I collected at the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) and to be quite honest, it’s a miracle that this cover didn’t grab me sooner. Egmont imprint, Electric Monkey, have taken foiling to a whole new level with the iridescent jacket of SEED. Barely visible behind the mesmerising, almost painful glow, is the image of a girl holding a flower to her lips along with the haunting message ‘Seed loves her Seed will never let her go’.
This cover perfectly reflects the mood of the book – it is about nature and power, beauty and secrets, mystique and manipulation.
Fifteen-year-old Pearl has lived her whole life protected within the small community at Seed, where they worship Nature and idolise their leader, Papa S. When some outsiders arrive, everything changes. Pearl experiences feelings that she never knew existed and begins to realise that there is darkness at the heart of Seed. A darkness from which she must escape, before it’s too late.
I was drawn into this novel instantly as we find Pearl during one of the key moments of a teenage girl’s life, and witness her horror as she thinks she is dying. It is scary to think that this can be a reality for many girls who have not been prepared for their bodies changing, but even once Pearl is reassured that this is natural, she is faced with a new horror. When girls become women at Seed, they must spend a dark and claustrophobic night underground in natures ‘womb’. This is just the start of the rituals within the Seed community that manipulate those who think they live the idyllic natural life.
There are hints throughout that there are dark secrets at Seed. From the voyeur in the attic, to the screaming Forgiveness Room, to the readers’ knowledge of what becoming Papa S’s companion must entail.
When outsiders join the community, it is instantly apparent that they will either bring knowledge that disrupts the camps naivety, or else be crushed into submission. There were so many times that I wanted to shake Pearl who continued to regurgitate ridiculous theories about the world that she had been brought up on and refused to open her eyes to the truth. When she begins to have doubts and starts to have ‘bad thoughts’ about newcomer Ellis and his outside ways, she becomes even more frustrating as this patient boy who is trying to wake her up is shut out. Ellis himself is a fantastic character. Despite his clear view of how Seed operates, he gives it a chance for the sake of his mother’s mental health and happiness and is incredibly patient with what he faces. To his own downfall.
I personally found the ending rushed and neither as haunting nor as climatic as the the build up had promised, however the characters and the secrets in this novel are affecting. The sense of cult-like power is palpable. With it’s precarious balance of worshipping the abundance and beautiful simplicity of nature, and fearfully violent and abhorrent power plays, this is a book that will fully envelop you in its manipulative grip.