The Overthrow #1

Bloom by Kenneth Oppel

Publication Date: March 10, 2020

Summary from NetGalley:

The first book in a can’t-put-it-down, can’t-read-it-fast-enough action-thriller trilogy that’s part Hatchet, part Alien!

The invasion begins–but not as you’d expect. It begins with rain. Rain that carries seeds. Seeds that sprout–overnight, everywhere. These new plants take over crop fields, twine up houses, and burrow below streets. They bloom–and release toxic pollens. They bloom–and form Venus flytrap-like pods that swallow animals and people. They bloom–everywhere, unstoppable.

Or are they? Three kids on a remote island seem immune to the toxic plants. Anaya, Petra, Seth. They each have strange allergies–and yet not to these plants. What’s their secret? Can they somehow be the key to beating back this invasion? They’d better figure it out fast, because it’s starting to rain again….

ARC provided by Random House Children’s via NetGalley for an honest review.

This book will grab hold of you and won’t let go, even after you are done with it. It is part science fiction, a little bit of horror, and whole lot of heart with wonderful characters and a terrifying life form taking over the world. I will never look at plants in quite the same way again.

All three of our main characters are very well developed with backgrounds that kids will be able to relate to. Seth has been in foster care for a long time and has finally found a family he is comfortable with. Anaya is allergic to everything, and is struggling with accepting who she is. Petra is the popular girl who is allergic to water, that makes for some interesting issues. Anaya and Petra used to be best friends and have to come to terms with what happened and repair their friendship. As the threat of the plants starts to grow, these three find that they are the only ones immune to the pollen and other toxins it throws out. This brings them together in unexpected ways. This bond only becomes stronger as they get to know each other and the secret that they didn’t know they shared.

I have to give a shout out to the parents and adults in this book. They were all super supportive and understanding of what the kids were going through. Even Seth’s foster parents were super cool, until things started to fall apart for them, but I was glad that Dr. Weber was there for him in the end. It is just nice to see good strong parental figures in a middle grade book.

The plot is something else and is what really keeps you from putting this book down. I don’t want to give too much away, but man those plants are super creepy and scary. It might give a few kids nightmares, it certainly made me shudder a few times. I loved the subtle science talk around plants and botany. It made the story that much more interesting. Also the pace was so non-stop, that I occasionally just had to stop and take a breath. The setting was spectacular, you really got the feeling of what it is like to live on a small island where everyone knows one another. The ending was spectacular, and a heck of a cliff-hanger. But luckily the next one will be out in the fall.

A riveting science fiction story that is fast paced, pulse quickening and hard to put down. But it still has a lot of heart and the characters are ones that you will enjoy and root for as they try to come to terms with what is happening.

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