Earthseed by Pamela Sargent
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Earthseed by Pamela Sargent
I came across this book while looking at a request someone had for a book they had once read. Someone may have mentioned these novels or I might have just stumbled upon them at the time. Either way I decided since I have read Pamela Sargent's Venus series and enjoyed her style of writing I would give these a try. I have to admit that the first 100 pages almost discouraged me. The books are being marked now as Teen fiction and they certainly read like Young Adult at least for the first half I have no idea what they were listed as back in 1983 first printing.
There is a point when the story finally takes off with some reasonable conflicts and interesting plot twists and it become a book that's hard to put down.
I was expecting a lot more from Pamela Sargent when this started out with Zoheret, a young teen living a sheltered life aboard Ship with her young friends and the struggles of the day were to the tune of; which girl her favorite boy was spending time with. This actually does define Zoheret from the beginning and there is a lot of time spent showing us how shallow she can be. Aboard ship everyone is somewhat healthy but for some reason some of the people born aboard have defects. They all seem to have been born through some sort of cloning or test tube type of process and the Ship acts as their single parent. Zoheret is Ships favorite and the other children aboard are pretty normal children some not so nice while making fun of the others.
The premise of this story is that they are aboard this ship heading for a planet they will colonize. It doesn't take much imagination to see that they are not nearly ready to do this and that something has to happen soon or they might never be ready. Several of the group seem aware of this and are asking Ship to let them go into a part of the ship that is like a massive garden that can sometimes be dangerous. They want to go in and have Ship shut down all the safety's so they can begin to learn how to survive.
At this point it begins to sound a lot like the Lord of the Flies when things start to go all wrong in what has been termed a competition. People get hurt but no one dies and the Ship seems blase about the whole thing and though sometimes Zoheret can have insightful thoughts she mostly is stuck in teen angst about finding a boyfriend.
About halfway through the book Pamela Sargent finally turns on the style I'm more used to from her and we begin to see some conflict. Something is not quite right with Ship and while Ship sends them out for more training in the wilderness region of the ship 'she' begins to act strangely even as the children begin their devolution to Lord of the Flies territory. The teens soon discover that they are not alone aboard Ship and that there is not just one other set of settlers here there are two and both could be very dangerous to them and even to the continued integrity of the ship.
And now what first sounded like a light version of Lord of the Flies, begins to start darkening until we have several moral questions being examined while the stakes get higher and people begin to die. The decisions the characters have to make become real and relevant and they become much more difficult for some of them. We finally begin to see Zoheret growing to a more reasonable level of maturity as she begins to realize she can't trust the one who has been her mother, protector and constant companion throughout her life and their journey.
Once again Pamela Sargent delivers her usual insightful and well crafted SFF that will capture most fans as long as they suffer through the first part of world building.
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