written by Wenlock Books' apprentice, Jasmine
Seed by Lisa Heathfield
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Genre: Young Adult
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.
Seed begins with Pearl discovering that she's started her period and as a result, being taken to an underground chamber in the forest where she’s left alone by candlelight so that she can be cleansed. In return for obliging, Nature will bless her with a healthy womb, something which the women at Seed consider to be the most precious gift. I loved that Lisa started the book by presenting a really shocking version of something so ordinary as it's clear by the way that Pearl is treated for starting her period that Seed is a very dark and frightening place.
There are many themes brought up in Seed but the most prominent, and I think most important, is the role that women play in the community. Hierarchy at Seed is strictly observed with Papa S as leader, Kindred Smith and Kindred John in second tier, the women in 3rd, and the children at the bottom.
The Handmaid's Tale and Only Ever Yours are 2 of my favourite books, and I was glad to see that Seed explores many of the same themes; from the complete lack of power balance between the men and women, to Papa S taking his pick of the grown women at Seed to be his next sexual partner. Just like Margaret Atwood and Louise O'Neill, Lisa very cleverly presents a frightening world where a woman's sole purpose is to please a man - cleaning, cooking, child rearing, and sex are all expected from the females at Seed.
Power is explored further through the belief in Seed as a cult. Papa S acts as the leader and translator between Nature and Seed, passing on what members believe are Nature's wishes and punishing people as Nature demands. I particularly liked reading about Pearl beginning to question the truth in Nature and Papa S's motives, and think that Lisa portrayed Pearl's fear and unease very well.
I really highly recommend this to anyone looking for a strong feminist novel that combines dystopian themes with a contemporary setting.