Monday 2 March 2015


Title:  Seed
Author: Lisa Heathfield
Publisher: Running Press, Perseus Book Group
Release Date: 10th March 2015

BLURB from Goodreads
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.

Goodreads Link 



So approaching this book I fancied something a little different. I had been reading the Buzz Books 2015 Young Adult titles, and seeing if they were available for request on Netgalley. Whilst doing this I came across Seed by Lisa Heathfield and thought Hmmm that sounds like a "different" read. I picked it up with the intention of maybe reading the first few pages to get a feel of the book and didn't want to put it down!

I downloaded an e-arc of this one from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. This book does have a few different cover. The one pictured above within the "Promotion" section of this post is the one I saw on Netgalley, and the one that made me want to know more about the book. The cover features a large house in the background set which is surrounded by fields. The woman who is quite prominent on the cover is bringing in the produce. So would the cover of this book make me want to pick it up from the shelf? Yes, I'd want to learn more about the female on the cover, as well as who lives in the large house set back in the distance.
The other cover available is pictured above in the My Review section of this post. It is certainly more colourful, I think the byline "Seed loves her, Seed will never let her go" fits with the sinister parts of the book very well. As Seed really did keep Sylvie and never let her go. The bee on the cover is featured in an incident with Ellis and Pearl whilst she is showing him around Seed. So would this cover of the book make me want to pick it up from the shelf? Yes, in it's own way. I would want to know more about the book. Would it pique my interest as much as the cover with the house and woman? Probably not. Having said that I think the brighter cover will appeal much more to the teens.
From reading the book, I'd guess the female on the cover is most likely either Elizabeth, or Pearl. Then again it could also be the mysterious Nana Willow's daughter Sylvie, as she is described as blonde etc. Now to the book/story basics, the house on the cover belongs to "Seed". Seed is a cult, the patriarchal figure of it is Papa S, the matriarchal is the ill bed-ridden Nana Willow. Nana Willow lives in a room of her own and the duties for caring for her are shared by the women of the cult. Papa S likes to give the impression that Nana Willow is somewhat senile but the elderly lady has some very lucid moments when she says things that help to unravel the tangled mess of Seed.  Papa S speaks to nature and relays natures messages to his followers. Papa S is at the top of the cult, then there are two males referred to as Kindred, then there are the followers. Nature is good to those that live in Seed providing crops to sustain them and a plentiful supply to go to the local market on the "outside" to sell. Nature can also be a bad thing, and dole out punishments if the followers are not devout enough. Things at Seed seem to plod along, everyone devoted to Papa s and his teachings. When a child is born into the cult they are brought up by all the women, they never know who their real/birth mother are. The Ultimate mother is Nature herself. The cult has lots of rules and secret rituals they follow. When we first meet Pearl, whom this book is mostly told from her point of view, she has just become a woman. The ritual is that she must stay overnight in a deep dark room to be at one with Mother Nature herself. It is Elizabeth that escorts Pearl to  the worship ring clearing and pushes the heavy chair which Papa S usually sits in, even though she is heavily pregnant. Elizabeth takes Pearl down through the trapdoor and into the "room". When the time has passed it is Elizabeth retrieves Pearl too. Pearl has quite naturally been very scared and is so relieved to be back in the fresh air. 
The ultimate place to be within Seed is at the side of Papa S, as his "companion". All the young girls wish for this, including Pearl and Katie, they wonder which one of them will be chosen first. The males in the Seed community work on old engines and machinery, coating them in some "special oil" that changes pollution into something non harmful. Another ritual that Seed carryout is the female members making clothes and sewing bits of paper inside the hem. The bits of paper have messages written on them, asking nature to forgive the bad ways of the people "outside". Outside is anywhere or anyone that does not live at Seed. So the regular followers and residents of Seed are justifiably shocked when they are told of some new arrivals, that are friends of one of the Kindred. The new arrivals consist of a mother called Linda and her two children a boy around Pearl and Katie's age, called Ellis and a younger girl called Sophie who is a similar age to the littlest ones in the cult. Sophie is young enough that she quickly adapts to her surroundings and follows the rituals without question. Seed can be both a beautiful haven and a deadly dangerous place. We find out how when followers are ill or hurt they have to rely on "Nature" healing them. One incident involving Jack is an example of this as one of the Kindred instruct Linda (an ex nurse) to stitch up a stab wound without any form of pain relief. Jack is then allowed to do lighter duties around Seed for a just a couple of days. Ellis however cannot let things he thinks are wrong alone such as the younger girls being chosen as companions to Papa S. Ellis begins to question things and plants doubt into the minds of those followers, of similar age to himself Jack, Katie and Pearl. Papa S is not going to give up easily even when Ellis becomes quite verbal. The youngsters are seriously thinking of fleeing Seed when Ellis has a horrifying accident in the machines shed. Ellis has had his right hand severed and is bleeding heavily. His mother Linda is hysterical and everyone is screaming he needs medical help. The community look to Papa S for direction, and he just stands there.  Eventually one of the Kindred makes a decision to take him to a hospital on the outside. Linda is not allowed to leave Seed to accompany her son to the hospital. . . only the Kindred can leave Seed and then return. This accident that Ellis has had, the threat to his life is just one thing that is making Pearl, Katie,and Jack think about leaving Seed.
 This book has quite a pace, everything unfold brilliantly. You are constantly asking yourself questions about Seed. Then if you put yourself into the position of the followers and how they are massively naive about "outside". I found this book really though provoking. How could a mother. . .like Linda give up everything from "outside" and reasonable independence to be ruled by a man who claims to speak to nature. How could Linda stitch up a wound on Jack who is the same age as her own son Ellis with no pain relief? How could Linda not demand to accompany her own son to hospital? There are a wide variety of characters in this book who all play a part in Seed, be it Papa S, the head and leader, or Elizabeth pregnant with the next generation of Seed. On one hand you want to admire the simplistic lifestyle at Seed, but on there other hand there are so many sinister undercurrents throughout the plot too. I think this would be a great thought inducing read for teens, opening lines of communication and giving a topic for discussions in schools. This is a really different pace, book style, and genre for me. I really did enjoy the book. You see and hear so much in the news about cults and religious sects. It truly makes you wonder how many of these types of places still exist in today's society.
So did I enjoy the book? Yes, I was engrossed, I really wanted to shout at some of the characters too. Which is a good thing as it means I care about them! Would I recommend the book? I would as I said earlier it could open a discussion in a classroom situation. Would I read another book about Seed? This is a harder question to answer as I think this sort of ended okay. Having said that there could be a prequel with more about Nana Willow and Sylvie perhaps. Would I want to read another book by this author? This one is easy to answer as I loved the pace and writing style of the book so I will be watching out for more by this author.                 

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