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Seed Paperback – 16 Apr 2015
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'We are obsessed with Seed and its handling of the topic of a cult. It's unlike anything we've ever read before and we applaud Lisa for writing such an excellent first novel' * YA Love Magazine * 'Seed was intriguing and fascinating - Lisa Heathfield's debut is stunning and has left me aching for more. Do yourself a favour and do NOT pass this one up. Spellbinding and filled with mystery and deception, this is a novel that demands to be read.' * Confessions of a Readaholic * 'Seed will hold readers' attention as the story's mood slowly changes and the work builds to an ultimately stunning conclusion' * School Library Journal *
About the Author
Lisa Heathfield launched her writing career with Seed, her stunning YA debut about a cult. Before becoming a mum to her three sons, she was a secondary school English teacher and loved inspiring teenagers to read. Paper Butterflies is her beautiful and heart-breaking second novel. Lisa lives in Brighton.
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Pearl has known no place other than Seed, the place she lives with her family. The cult is terrifying in the way it operates, and I found it highly effective that Heathfield chose to write about events from Pearl’s perspective. Her naïveté is concerning, but it offers a compelling insight into some of the methods used to keep people within such an environment.
It’s tempting to think nothing would have changed were it not for the arrival of Ellis and his family, but there are signs that Pearl was beginning to question what happened around her home.
I was pleased that we were not given graphic descriptions of what we assume was happening at this place. What we were told was enough. Much of my time reading this was spent feeling anger at the people who perpetuate such regimes.
While the ending did not resolve everything, it gave us opportunity to digest the events and dream about what might come next.
This is the kind of book I've been waiting for. I've read a lot of books lately that I enjoyed, three stars and the odd four star read. But it's been a while since I read a book I couldn't put down. The kind that I was almost late back to the office from my lunch break for because I lost track of time reading. The kind that I'm so busy reading I weld rice to the bottom of a saucepan because I'm not paying attention when I cook dinner.
The book kicks off with a frank description of Pearl's first period. She's comforted by a mother figure named Elizabeth who cleans her up, reassures her and puts her mind at rest. From there, things get sinister. And fast. There's a pervading sense of dread throughout the book, a dark underworld bubbling away beneath Seed's serene exterior that gets closer and closer to the surface. The first half of the book is a masterclass in dread and tension, told through Pearl's blinkered eyes. The second half, is epic! I couldn't stop reading! At first, Pearl is reluctant to believe newcomer Ellis' talk that something at Seed is amiss, but soon even she can't deny it. And when a shattering event rips the heart out of the community, things go to hell fast!
On the surface, the indoctrinated Pearl would seem like an unreliable narrator, with her blithe naviety and steadfast belief in all that she's been taught. But Lisa Heathfield does a fantastic job of weaving in little details that hint that all is not well at Seed. Even in the simple opening scenes of the group making dinner, there's something so off-kilter about the whole set up that you don't even need to get to the psychological torture and unfortunate "accidents" that befall the more vocal dissenters to know that this is a cult, pure and simple.
Pearl's story of her life as Seed is interspersed with haunting interludes from an abused, shattered mystery figure. At first, these cuts hang heavy over the book, the sense of foreboding they bring genuinely unsettling. Who is this person? Future Pearl? Her best friend Kate? Someone already dead? A mystery figure? By the time Pearl and Kate are entertaining the idea of escape, these cuts have got dark, and the whole book is so heavy with dread I wanted to shake it until it all fell out! All the cult cliches are here; mistrust of the outside world, rejection of modern conveniences, sexual abuse. The idea of the younger, particularly female members pushing against the confines of such a place with the emergence of their adulthood and sexuality isn't hugely original, but wow does Lisa Heathfield wring every drop of tension out of it! Their strangely charismatic leader, known only as Papa S at first, is genuinely creepy, more deserving of a nasty end than any character I've read recently! But even he ends the book as more than a stereotypical bad guy. He's misguided, and drunk on his own power, but by the end, he's a very real, if spectacularly screwed up, person.
That ending though! This story doesn't really lend itself to a sequel, but I hope that there is one! I need it! It's not a pleasant read at times, and if you're looking for light and fluffy or fantasy escapism, this is not the book for you. But if you're looking for a tense, gripping, well written read then I wholeheartedly recommend that you pick up this book.
Review originially posted at - [...]
I enjoyed this book, quite simply, for the premise of it. A lot of young adult books are beginning to feel samey, but this was refreshing new, and best of all, there didn’t seem to be a romantic focus (not that I don’t love some romance in my books, but sometimes it’s nice for there to not be so much of that). I’ve given it 3.5 stars, not because there was necessarily anything i disliked about the book, but because compared to some of the other books I’ve reviewed recently and given 4 or 5 stars, this book wasn’t quite up there with them.
I actually only bought this book because the cover is beautiful and I wandered passed it in a book store and it was shimmery and delightful. Whoever designed that cover deserves a huge cut, because I would bet money on the fact that there’s hundreds of people who bought this book for the same reason as me (the cover)! Which is a shame really as the book itself is wonderful. Just goes to show that a good cover can we worth so much!
The story is written from 15 year old Pearl’s perspective, just at the time when she ‘becomes a woman’. From that point everything begins to change and when they’re joined by people from the ‘outside’ she begins to question things. That’s all I’m going to say about the plot!
It was quite an…uncomfortable read, and it’s all kinds of messed up, but I think that might have been very much the intended effect! The ending as well, that was just a whole new level! The themes running through the book, and some of the less obvious but implied details, are also quite uncomfortable, although were incorporated into the story really well so as to not make the reader uncomfortable simply for the sake of it.
Immediately I became attached to certain characters, whilst being left with a sour taste in my mouth with other characters – proof of the author’s character writing skills! One particular character left me with a bad feeling in my gut, and they definitely filled the ‘creep’ scale! A very sadistic and manipulative villain, which I enjoyed as it seems quite often now there are no true villains, but in Seed this certainly didn’t seem to be the case. He appeared to have no good side as such, and no sympathy or understanding was generated for him.
Pearl experienced a great character development, she was throughout quite naïve and clearly completely wrapped up in Seed, but I genuinely felt for her as she began to question everything she’d always believed and faced up to the reality of the world she lived in. I heard there’s going to be a sequel? I would quite like to know how Pearl’s story ends.
I liked that romance was limited in this book! There was slight implications of some budding relationships, but little more. Instead this book seemed to focus on friendships and how they developed, and I think that for this book and a story like this, that was the perfect approach, as the friendships were very touching and heart-warming and I really did get the impression that they care for each other.
The story became very fast paced at the end, almost to the point of being rushed. The ending could have been more effective if it was paced a little better. I understand that the end was essentially all action, so the fast pace was to keep that feeling and that adrenaline going, but as the story was quite slowly paced throughout it did just come across as rushed!
Overall I did really enjoy this book, it’s a different concept from the usual and the sensitive subject matters required some impressive tact when writing, which Heathfield accomplished. There was the right amount of character and relationship development, and the scene setting was rather beautiful too. With just some minor adjustments to pacing there would have been little I could have found fault with.