Seed by Michael Edelson

Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for this honest review.

seedWhat can I say? I’m impressed. Thank you, Andy, for recommending, and thank you to the author for passing this book along.

Seed stars Alex Meyers, a soldier stationed in modern-day California, where he trains the soldiers who deploy to Iraq and Afganistan. His life is routine, until the morning he wakes up in a plastic pod of sorts, stocked with clothes that fit, and surrounded by other people equally confused about how they got here. And just where is “here,” anyway? Each resident of this odd new world has been provided with the tools of his or her trade: medical tools for the doctor, and – chillingly – an armory for Alex. Obvious questions arise. Who kidnapped Alex and the others and marooned them here, and why? And is the invisible barrier there to keep them in, or to keep something else out?

Alex’s early reaction is contentment at an unexpected vacation. This place kind of resembles Hawaii, in fact. But it doesn’t take long for the sinister to creep in, at the same time that a romantic interest surfaces. Alex is a soldier, trained to obey, and not accustomed to a leadership role. But he finds that there are things, people, and values in his new environment that are worth defending.

This is a racing plot. I put the book down just once, to keep an appointment, and then raced through to the finish without coming up for air. Whatever its imperfections – and there are a few – it is a rare and special book that grabs me that irresistibly.

Seed‘s characters evoke the reader’s emotions, as Andy said in his review. But the strength of that emotional attachment comes more from the strength of plot, than any genius of characterization; characters are a little stiff, a little good-or-bad. No matter; they suffice. Dialog is likewise sort of indifferent.

But the pacing, momentum and intrigue of this plot is outrageous. I found it quite inventive and suspenseful; also as Andy noted, twists keep it from feeling formulaic. A third time like Andy, I am not normally a reader in this genre, which is, what? Military, dystopian? With a hint of romance? But any reader who enjoys plot-driven, adrenaline-filled novels should be well pleased.

Michael Edelson self-published this, his first novel, and “the industry” tends to look askance at such efforts. But this is a feat. I enjoyed every minute and was sorry when it ended. Congratulations, Mr. Edelson. If you care to revisit the world of Seed in a sequel, I’ll buy it.

Rating: 7 cups of nutrient powder.

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