Friday, May 4, 2012
Square Fish, 2011
January 15th, 2012
Genre: Science Fiction
Description: One night while visiting his mother at her work—a nursing home run by the local corporation TroDyne, Mason discovers his mother cares for four catatonic teens. When one of them actually awakens, she runs in fright and Mason follows her. What happens next is a non-stop action sci-fi thriller as Mason, his best friend Josh, and the girl, Laila, begin to unravel the town’s mysterious past with TroDyn Industries and how Mason is much, much more closely involved with the mysterious Gardener than he could ever imagine.
Opinion: Like Bodeen’s previous work The Compound, I feel both stories start out with a really compelling and imaginative plot but fall short in the end. Here it is pretty obvious what the big secret is just from the book’s own blurb on the cover—human plants are being bioengineered. So whatever true mystery there is isn’t really a mystery at all. The fact that Mason has never known his father and only has a DVD of him reading him The Runaway Bunny—a DVD which happens to be the catalyst to waking Laila up from her trance—makes it pretty obvious early on who the Gardener really is. While the plot is action-packed and could get readers to follow along, most of it is just way too over the top—no teen could do half of what Mason and his friends end up getting away with, including nearly falling off a cliff in an ATV accident, escaping TroDyn goons three times, conveniently meeting an ex-TroDyn employee who knows Laila personally. Its all too convenient—the fact that Mason’s mother worked for TroDyn and was involved in the project, that the Gardener is closer to him than he realizes, etc. Especially the end—Laila can’t leave the greenhouse until she’s 18 or 19 when a body can exist without its help so Mason gives her his cell phone and tells her he’s planning on going to school at Stanford. He spends the next two years making sure he gets into the school and one day he sees her on campus and calls his old phone which she just happens to still have, which still works, and she answers. It’s all a bit too trite for me. The story also feels like there is too much detail left out—like it could have been better as a longer book than 232 pages. The evil villain isn’t the one everyone suspects throughout most of the novel but someone totally different who wants to use the plant children as a military weapon. It is all so rushed and doesn’t make one care about the characters at all.