Review: Seed by Lisa Heathfield

ARC: 336 pages
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Seed #1
All that Pearl knows can be encapsulated in one word: Seed. It is the isolated community that she was born into. It is the land that she sows and reaps. It is the center of her family and everything that means home. And it is all kept under the watchful eye of Papa S.

At fifteen years old, Pearl is finally old enough to be chosen as Papa S’s companion. She feels excitement... and surprising trepidation that she cannot explain. The arrival of a new family into the Seed community — particularly the teenage son, Ellis — only complicates the life and lifestyle that Pearl has depended upon as safe and constant.

Ellis is compelling, charming, and worldly, and he seems to have a lot of answers to questions Pearl has never thought to ask. But as Pearl digs to the roots of the truth, only she can decide what she will allow to come to the surface.

Seed was a really hard book to rate because while I couldn't stop reading and it kept me up late into the night, I can't say that I liked the story. Reading Seed was uncomfortable, but like a really bad car crash you can't look way, or in this case you had to keep reading to see how things will come crashing either for the worst or hopefully for the better.

The story opened up with fifteen year old Pearl getting her period for the first time, and one of the women in Seed took her to a hole in the ground and left her there overnight, as their tradition when a girl becomes a woman. And right there, right from the start, I was engrossed. 

After that crazy beginning, we got to see the idyllic Seed: the women cooking and taking care of the children, the men (called Kindred) doing their manly work and the teenagers (sixteen year old Jack, Pearl and Kate, who was little older than Pearl) doing their various chores with the younger children running alongside them. Then, there was Papa S., their leader, who carefully watched over them. 

But then there were little things that you learn that makes you realize that there's an oily film beneath that shiny surface that Pearl, in her innocence, does not see because Seed was all she's ever known. Pearl loves her life and there was genuine love and happiness among the members. But, with the arrival of a new family the oily layer becomes more visible and Pearl couldn't help slowly begin to question some things despite trying to cling on to the idyllic image.

Seed was not an easy read--I mean, I devoured it because I had to know who everything will end but I was uncomfortable reading it at the same time. 

I was somewhat frustrated with Pearl sometimes because the evidence of evil was there, but she couldn't see it because she didn't know any different. At the same time, I understood her. She was a true innocent, Seed was her whole world, and later in the story she refused to believe that everything she knew was a lie. And, of course, Papa S. was controlling. I felt for Pearl, but the character I really felt sorry for was Kate. What Kindred John and Papa S. did to her was sick. We don't see it first hand because it's told in Pearl's point of view but you know what's happening when she's "helping" John in his room and when Papa S. chose her as his companion, you know what that entailed. And there's a high possibility that Kate might even be Papa S.'s daughter--we don't know if the other two men, the Kindreds, also have sex with the women or if it was just Papa S.--but that adds another layer of sick and twisted. 

After everything that happened, the ending was inevitable. I wasn't surprised it ended up like that but those poor little kids! I was a bit shocked by what happened to Ellis, though. That was a twist I didn't see coming. I found out that Seed is a two-book series and, while the ending wasn't really a cliffhanger, I really want to know what will happen next. 

I applaud the author for taking on a controversial topic like cults and telling a complicated story in a very compelling and readable way. I know there's quite a few YA books the came out recently about cults, but Seed is one of the best I've read and it is really worth picking up. It will make you think, pull at your emotions, make you angry and make you disgusted, but you also can't help but turn the pages. I highly recommend it. Also, I think Seed would be a great book for book clubs because it will spark a lot of discussion and questions.

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