The Gardener by S.A. Bodeen
This captivating book is an great start for readers who want to try science fiction, but don’t want to commit to the huge titles (500+ pages) that many of the well-known authors write. The Gardener tell the story of Mason, who lives with his mom in small town where everyone works for the local Biotech company, TroDyn Industries. Although Mason’s mom used to be a scientist there, she now works in a TroDyn-owned nursing home, although the reasons for her career change have always been a mystery. Mason’s father, who he’s never met, but listened to reading The Runaway Bunny of a DVD he takes everywhere, is/was also a TroDyn scientist. When Mason tells him mom he wants to do an internship at TroDyn to earn money to help pay for Stanford, she reacts almost violently, refusing to even consider the possibility.
The action starts when Mason sneaks up to the sixth floor of his mom’s job and after confronting her about her history with TroDyn, finds a group of comatose teenagers, when all the while he thought his mother cared for the elderly. He especially notices a beautiful platinum blond with dark brown eyes, whose skin seemed to glow with vitality. She wakes up when he randomly plays his DVD of his father reading the children’s story, but seems to have some sort of amnesia. “Don’t let the gardener find me,” is all she keeps saying, and Mason becomes determined to rescue her. So starts the long chase, slowly giving out facts about Mason’s family, the “brain damaged” teenagers, and his parents involvement with the seemingly malevolent TroDyn Industries. When readers realize that the bioengineering company is using these teens as part of some experiment to solve world hunger, they won’t be able to put the book down.
I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to SciFi fans and readers who like to ponder about our society and how we use/abuse our scientific knowledge. At just over 200 pages, it’s a fast read that is perfect for a reluctant reader who might not want to commit to something more involved.