Seed by Lisa Heathfield (A Dark Little Contemporary)

Seed loves you. Seed will never let you go.
Fifteen-year-old Pearl has lived her whole life protected within the small community at Seed, where they worship Nature and idolise their leader, Papa S. When some outsiders arrive, everything changes. Pearl experiences feelings that she never knew existed and begins to realise that there is darkness at the heart of Seed. A darkness from which she must escape, before it's too late.

via Goodreads

Okay, so ... I basically decided to read this book because the main character has a period. Lucy from Queen of Contemporary made an amazing video about how little periods are spoken about in YA - like, at all - and I realised that I wasn't sure I'd ever read a book that even mentioned one. Which I guess makes no sense whatsoever, if we think about it?

Anyway, I decided to rectify this, and Lisa Heathfield's Seed was one of the first books on her list. It was the tagline that really got me (the whole damaging and slightly obsessive vibe from something loving you and yet not letting you go kind of intrigued me with its darkness) but once I heard it was about a cult I was basically hooked. Mostly because I don't think I'd ever heard of a YA book about a cult.

Nobody needs to freak out about my obsession with morbidity, by the way ... it's totally normal, right?

*crazed grin*
The tone of this book is most definitely unique. There's this beautiful summery feel to it - Seed (the cult itself, not the book) is all about nature and wildflowers and a lot of things that basically end up being very nice to read about - but it's undercut by a creeping darkness; the darkness of something wrong that Pearl, the main character, doesn't fully understand. 

Usually, when main characters are kind of clueless and innocent, I get pretty darn frustrated at knowing things that they don't. There's a lot of screaming at the pages and a lot of wondering how they could be so stupid. But here? It wasn't so frustrating because you knew it wasn't Pearl's fault. She had basically been raised as a human embodiment of everything Seed was, fearing the outside and clinging to what she knew. All of this was of course slightly twisted, but everyone knows morbid stuff is more interesting, right?

There were other characters too ... Kate just gets all my admiration because she was so brave, and yet even from the distance that was Pearl's point of view, you could see how she was fallible. It made her so real. And then there was Ellis, who I would absolutely have a bookworm crush on if I allowed myself to have those. He played piano and was genuinely just a very gentle person - unless you threatened his Mum and sister, of course.

With all these amazing characters (seriously, I didn't even mention all of them), plus the general intriguingness of its premise and the way it was written, Seed would have easily been a five star book. Easily.

But then came the ending.
I'm not going to say anything about what actually happens, because please. I know enough not to write a spoiler review and expect to get away with it. Basically, I had been warned ahead that it was probably going to upset me quite a bit, but when I got there? While I can see why some people might have been heartbroken - and indeed were, judging by some general ranting I tracked down on the internet - my reaction was kind of 'Huh. Okay then.'. It was honestly just so rushed at the end that I ended up a little bit confused about what had actually happened and what the implications of that were.

One of the first things I scribbled down after I'd finished was just I NEED ANSWERS. And sure, when I'm that confused about what could be a beautifully emotional ending, I can't help but wonder if there's some deep meaning behind the befuddlement that the author intended and I just completely missed. But I do think the last chapter could have benefited from a few more pages to make sure it really packed a punch.

In conclusion, this is a really, really good book that was thought-provoking without coming off as preachy or contrived. The characters were alive on the page, the pacing so good it was unnoticeable as I got sucked in ... until the last few pages. And even that might have been subjective. So if you like your YA Contemporary with a bit of meat behind it, then you should definitely give Seed a go.

***
In the comments: So if you guys have read Seed, did you agree with me here? Or not so much? (Mia, I'm especially keen to hear your thoughts after what you said before about the ending.) And if you haven't tried it yet, does it have a place on your TBR?


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