Farseed: A lot of filler

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsFarseed by Pamela Sargent YA fantasy book reviewsFarseed by Pamela Sargent

The interesting thing about Pamela Sargent’s EARTHSEED series is that it doesn’t really seem to matter overly much what order you read the books in. There is a sizeable gap between each book, and Farseed, just like Seed Seeker, does a good job at recapping what has happened in the previous book so people new to the series might not find themselves unfamiliar with what is happening.

That being said, the blurb on the cover says that this series might be the next HUNGER GAMES, and I’m sure that will attract plenty of readers. They’ll see that and think, “hmm… HUNGER GAMES on another planet. That’s just cool.” And probably pick it up. There are a few similarities. First, this is a young adult series, with some pretty adult themes, like THE HUNGER GAMES. Secondly, Sargent doesn’t shy away from inserting plenty of politics into her YA books, trusting that her readers, regardless of their age, will be able to absorb what is happening. Third, the main protagonist is a strong willed young woman in an unfortunate situation.

I tend to struggle with YA books. One of the main reasons for this is because I feel like a lot of young adult authors have an unfortunate tendency to talk down to their audience, probably without knowing it. I have to hand it to Sargent; she doesn’t do that. Even though this is a young adult series, she is comfortable with her complex science, politics and ideas and she’s confident that her readers, regardless of their age, will be able to absorb what she is presenting. This self-assured style of writing is both refreshing and somewhat rejuvenating. It’s the kind of YA writing I can wrap my head around. I also think that this confident style will help the series appeal to a wide array of readers, from adults to young adults alike.

Farseed deals with frontier life, and settlement. This book takes place about thirty years after Ship has left off a bunch of people to “seed” or colonize another earthlike planet. Different groups went different ways, and each evolved in separate fashions befitting the lives they made for themselves and their descendants. While I thought Sargent did a wonderful job at showing how the decisions thirty years ago affected different groups of individuals, and how they cope with the trials presented them, this might seem tedious to a lot of readers. While there is some action, and in the latter half there is a bit of intrigue, Farseed might leave some readers wanting a bit more in the way of action and plot progression. In fact, Farseed might feel a bit like the unfortunate “placeholder” that many second books become.

There are a few aspects of Farseed that might turn off some readers. For example, much of the book involves long descriptions of methods of survival and beliefs from the two different groups that Sargent features. These descriptions, while interesting, are fairly long and do take up much of the book. Some readers might find them exhausting. Secondly, Sargent goes into a lot of detail about how different the two main groups are. While this is interesting, it’s also long and drawn out and makes a fairly short book feel like it’s dragging quite a bit. While Sargent does go into detail and seems to think of everything that could possibly change with the colonists she’s describing, there really isn’t much else there. If you appreciate that kind of thing, you’ll love Farseedthough I think younger readers might find the story has a hard time keeping their attention.

Farseed is slow, and much of the book seems to dissect lifestyles, beliefs and evolutionary differences between two peoples. Once a true “problem” is present to the plot, things do get a bit interesting. That being said, Sargent doesn’t end the book in a satisfying way. In fact, I was fairly confused by why various people did the things they did, and believed what they believed and some of the evolutionary differences were hard to believe given a paltry thirty year gap for them to arise. I didn’t feel any true resolution. It’s unfortunate, because Sargent writes YA the way I like it to be written: confident and thoughtful. However, Farseed just doesn’t deliver. It falls into the typical second book trap. It’s a lot of filler, not much happens, and a lack of true character motivation or plot resolution might leave a sour taste behind.


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SARAH CHORN, one of our regular guest reviewers, has been a compulsive reader her whole life, and early on found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a published photographer, world traveler and recent college graduate and mother. Sarah keeps a blog at Bookworm Blues.

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2 comments

  1. It annoys me when publishers reboot an old (probably unsuccessful) series and call it the “next” or the “new” version of some recently wildly popular series. The first EARTHSEED book was published in 1983, so how can it be the “next” HUNGER GAMES? I’ve seen this done before and I think it’s a scam.

    Cute cover, though!

    Thanks for the review, Sarah! Bill was planning to review this for us, but I think he couldn’t manage to get through it.

  2. It’s good to see a YA which doesn’t treat its like little children (which NA seems to also be prone to) but such a shame to hear that it falls into the same old problem. It sounds like the overall premise and style has some potential and hopefully the author will fulfil that with another book.

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