Part of the Blogging A to Z Challenge. I’m blogging every day in April, except Sundays, thematically from A to Z. Find out more here.
Today I am reviewing a young adult thriller, Fireseed One, by Catherine Stine. This is not a book I would normally pick up and read. But once I did I was sucked in to its world. Catherine is not only an author but an illustrator and her pictures add to this beautifully-crafted book. Visit her at her website and purchase Fireseed One here. You’ll want to.
by Catherine Stine
Fireseed One is a captivating thriller set in a futuristic, toxic world teetering on chaos and crisis. Danger, loss, love, and redemption all tie together with rich characters to make for one imaginative blast.
Varik, a young man struggling to manage his family’s farm alone after his father’s death, finds himself thrust into a deadly mission to save the world’s future food source. He is forced into manhood by unfortunate chance and greed. It gets worse for him. He must do it with his father’s arch enemy’s daughter, Marisa, who wants to save the world’s food now – not later. Sworn enemies caught together in a quest to save the world, they must trust each other against instinct.
In this desperate world people take risky measures. Life is all or nothing. Live or die. Stine creates a believable place full of dark wonder where one crop item is utilized to feed, clothe, and shelter the world. Now its extinction looms and the only way to save the world is to find the one miracle plant Varik’s father engineered, Fireseed One. It’s been created to breed with other plants and miraculously grows in the deadly Hotzone. And Varik and Marisa must find it in the face of great odds.
When Varik leaves his comfortable, sheltered world to find the savior seed he discovers a new cruel world and comes to understand Marisa’s desire to save it now, not later. He also comes to see they are not so different. And as the lines are blurred and the world becomes less back and white they discover their convictions bring them together with one purpose – to save the world.
Stine places these two people at such odds in a life or death mission while beautifully drawing them together as they learn to trust to survive. We suffer with them through a terrifying world where the land is an uninhabitable hot zone and the seas are poisonous sludge. A place of pure anarchy. A world where protective garments cloak you in safety, but your enemies are cloaked as well. A time where the promise of the World Food Bank being depleted is real. A place where California has disappeared and the Pacific laps at Vegas. A toxic ocean that beckons yet poisons. A place that seems oh-so real. Once you put the book down it haunts you. You wonder if it could happen in your lifetime.
The suspense of this taut thriller is heightened by the “planted” stream in Varik’s and Marisa’s heads that constantly broadcasts news. They can’t turn off the voices, advertising the world’s doom, as their dilemma grows direr.
And as Varik begins to doubt his father, the secrets pile up and he questions what is truth and what is fiction. Did he ever really know his father? In this lies the seed that transforms Varik from child to man. We feel his pain, through Stine’s aching prose. And we want to follow his journey.
This thrilling ride gets more intense as the stakes grow higher on their dangerous journey and enemies lurk everywhere seeking them out. But in a fiery, dying world Varik and Marisa come together in love. And Stine’s lyrical language shines through in this hopeless world. Varik and Marisa seal their fate with a kiss. “She’s spring sun after a polar night,” Varik says poetically. In bonding together in the most lethal place on Earth, they must sacrifice all and accept new truths that go against all they ever believed.
Can Varik and Marisa complete their mission in their darkest hour and if so, can they survive the journey back? No spoilers here but you will be in a race to find out.
In Fireseed One, Stine takes us on a painful but heartfelt coming of age story of two people discovering that sometimes your enemy can be your greatest friend, and all is not as it seems. Stine has created compelling, complex characters in Varik and Marisa. We want to engage with them and we want them to engage with each other.
Stine has created a world as deep and layered as our own, where its own language flows into the story seamlessly. In this futuristic world dying of heat, people talk with chilly words to comfort themselves. “Polar” is the new “rad” and “sweet ice” and “great frying ice” replace “holy cow.” A place where drinks called Snowflake and Glacial can be had. Words that describe things long gone. People here act out their fantasies of cold and snow, things they can only dream about.
Stine gives us a beautiful, bittersweet story of survival and love, where two young adults come to terms with who their parents are and who they are. And they face it with the grace of an adult not the petulance of a child anymore. This unique, refreshing story reveals pioneers in a new age, willing to risk the unknown and death for a better life. They are the pioneers of a new frontier. And you want them to survive and succeed at all odds.