Thursday, 10 September 2015

Book Review - The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas


The Seed Collectors is centered on the Gardener family, the dysfunctional offspring of botanists who went missing years ago searching for mysterious seed-pods that have mystical but fatal powers. Named after plants - Fleur, Plum, Clem, Bryony etc - the book follows them after the death of Great Aunt Oleander, and after they are left the aforementioned seed pods in her will. Naturally in a family drama there are dark secrets to be uncovered but there is also sharp humour and a lot of sex, frequently quite brutal and loveless, and usually of the illicit kind.
I finished The Seed Collectors a few weeks ago but have put off writing a review because I'm still not really how I felt about it. I disliked the characters, any sympathy I briefly felt for a character could easily dissipate in a subsequent chapter . but that in itself isn't enough to put me off a book, I've enjoyed plenty of novels where I wouldn't want to know the characters in real life. There were parts I really liked, it's a funny, ambitious and beautifully written tale. The plot meanders between characters, there isn't a sole focus to the book, each chapter is from a different viewpoint, even from that of a robin in the garden. While I appreciated the skill involved in weaving the story I did find it all a bit disjointed, and missed the flow of a book that follows a less fragmented path. I found it was a book that I could become distracted from, there are some books that pull me in and I lose myself in. The Seed Collectors wasn't like that, I could read a chapter and love the writing but then with the abrupt change of focus lose interest and end up putting the book down for a few days.
I don't want this to be a negative review because I do think it's a  beautifully written novel with some truly thought- provoking parts, it perhaps wasn't the book for me but I can admire and appreciate it nevertheless.
Thanks to the publishers, Canongate for my copy received through NetGalley in return for my unbiased review.

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