Book Reviews, YA Book Club for Writers

Book Club Review: Bloom by Kenneth Oppel

 

It was just rain.

But after the downpour, odd black plants begin to shoot up.

Suddenly—

They. Are. Everywhere.

They take over fields and twine around houses. They bloom and throw off toxic pollen—and feed.

Strangely, three Salt Spring Island teens seem immune. Anaya, Petra and Seth. What’s their connection? What’s their secret? A week ago, they wouldn’t have thought they had one.

But they’d better figure it out fast—the invasion has already begun.

bloom black grass

Our thoughts about this book:

After getting settled in a Zoom meeting, our members expressed gratitude for the technology we are able to take advantage of today. Overall, we all enjoyed Bloom. It’s action-packed, fast-paced, and well-written. Of course it’s well-written, it’s Kenneth Oppel! 🙂 Bloom an excellent first book to a trilogy!

Naturally, we could’t help but discuss the uncanny parallels between Bloom and our current COVID-19 quarantine situation:

The RCMP was overwhelmed with emergency calls, fencing off trails and parks, helping farmers close their pastures. School was canceled. People were told to stay indoors.”

BLOOM by Kenneth Oppel, page 142

One member read the novel at the beginning of March, prior to all the current changes applied to our lives, and then read it again in the middle of the month. “It was much scarier the second time, I almost couldn’t finish it.” Which brought up an important observation: when and where we are in our lives makes a difference in how we respond to what we read, and not just with reference to our COVID-19 life right now.

Characterization was well mixed in with the action. As the story is told from three points-of-view, we all agreed it took a while to get to know the characters, but the story was so engaging it was difficult to put down from the beginning. And it didn’t take long for Seth to become a favourite character for all of us.

Is there a downside here? Only a bit… we agreed that the ending took too long. The last chapter could have been wrapped up a little faster. And some of the action in the middle and during the climax also seemed to be a bit too much. But really, those are pretty tedious negatives.

We had a laugh over the themes of the story: friendship, embrace what is unique… be careful what you wish for!

I also read this story to my boys, so I thought I’d share some of the thoughts I had about that experience.

First off, both boys (10 and 13 years old) LOVED IT! They loved the action and the gruesomeness of some of the scenes. Oppel writes fantastic cliffhanger chapter endings, and regularly I heard groans when I finished reading for the evening.

The chapters were quite long, the structure of the novel was different for a story written from multiple points of view. Typically, each chapter is written for a different character, however in this case, each chapter was split up into three sections, so each scene got a taste of each character’s point of view. It worked well.

Naturally, being a foster parent I’m sensitive to the subject of kids-in-care, but also well-informed. One area Oppel needed to do some research was the basic structure of Child and Family Services and the roll of a social worker. The information here was wrong. If my boys noticed anything odd, they didn’t say. I also didn’t draw their attention to it. Any child reader (and probably adults not familiar with the system) would not realize the errors in representation, however, a rule of a writer is to write the truth, even in fiction. I felt personal biases on the part of the author, assumptions, and stereotypes were applied and was disappointed in the inaccuracies.

However, that aside, I think everyone is looking forward to the second book being released and we don’t even have to wait that long. Hatch is due out autumn 2020!

We recommend this book.

You can read reviews of other Kenneth Oppel books we’ve read:
The Boundless
Inkling

__________________________

This is an unsolicited review. I purchased my copy from Amazon.ca.

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (Feb. 11 2020)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1443450317

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s