I grew up reading science fiction. Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, L. Ron Hubbard, Orson Scott Card, Michael Crichton… In fact, I read every science fiction book I could find in our small-town library. Literally every single one until they ran out. Sadly, life went on…
I grew up, finished college, got a job, read other things. It was only recently that I returned to the genre with this novel: Seed, by Michael Edelson.
I could not have chosen a better title to come home to.
The protagonist is a young military man—somewhat disgruntled and riding out a lousy assignment in the US Army with as much dignity and grace as he can muster. When he wakes up in a strange jungle compound, trapped with a bunch of civilians by an impenetrable barrier, he rises to the challenge with intelligence and honor, despite wishing he could just keep his head down and stay out of trouble. He’s not trying to be a hero. He’s just trying to do the right thing—which is exactly what makes him so dang heroic.
He soon builds around himself an entire team of kick-butt men and women—my favorite kind of story—dedicated to unraveling the mystery while forced to navigate the perils of high-stress human interaction. (Thank you by the way, Mr. Edelson, for not relegating the fairer sex to the damsel department.) All of the characters are well-developed, each with his or her own distinct personality, both brilliant and flawed in unique and subtle ways.
Unlike some science fiction, which can start to feel like a doomsday proclamation masquerading as a novel, Seed is driven first and foremost by its entertainment value. It is a story—with a strong hero, a suspenseful plot, and tension that builds into the kind of profoundly satisfying, fingernail-biting angst that will keep you turning the pages until the end.
It kept me up at night, reading far later than I should have. It made me laugh. It made me worry. It made me tear up more than once. It made me angry, and then it sweet-talked its way back into my good graces. It’s that kind of book.
BOTTOM LINE: I paid full price for this one, based on the sample. It was worth every penny.