Seeders by AJ Colucci (St. Martin’s Press, July 15th)-The new horror thriller by AJ Colucci features a secluded island, plant communication, and a group of six people secluded on said island for two weeks. Off to a good start, yes? One particular blurb likened it to The Shining crossed with The Ruins, and The Ruins I agree with, but I think I’d put it more in the And Then There Were None category. I really enjoyed Colucci’s first novel, The Colony, and while there is a science-y aspect to Seeders, as with The Colony, that’s really where the similarities end, so don’t expect more of the same. Isabelle Maguire has taken her two children, Luke and Sean (who hasn’t spoken since an accident), and their ward, Monica to the secluded Sparrow Island after her father, George Brookes, jumps to his death. George was a brilliant, if controversial, botanist, and when Isabelle and family arrive on the island, she finds Dr. Jules Beecher, a former colleague of her father’s, and also Ginny Shufflebottom, her father’s on and off companion of 10 years. They’re all there to hear the reading of the will and get her father’s estate in order. They get quite a lot more than they bargain for, however.
The basis of Seeders is that George Brookes has discovered a way for plants to communicate with humans, and that plants have…emotions, and can even feel pain. So, you can probably guess, if that’s the case, how happy plants and trees are with us, considering what we’re doing to the planet. During the couple of weeks that the group spends on the island, Jules starts hearing some voices in the woods (and becomes a flat out menace), bodies start piling up in those same woods, the kids are sent on a scavenger hunt for a diamond that has been left to Ginny Shufflebottom, and the plants? Well…the plants aren’t idle, that’s for sure. Isabelle is doing her best to keep everyone safe, but Sean seems to be helping out Jules a little too much in those increasingly threatening woods, and the teenage Luke is way too preoccupied with Monica. Teenage hormones are almost as dangerous as the plants, seriously. I have to admit, Monica drove me nuts. She’s kind of awful, but luckily, Luke is smarter than that, and doesn’t completely fall for her crap (in spite of the siren song of his groin.) He even notices his mother’s newfound independence once she’s away from his bullying father. Colucci is good at building the isolated, very eerie atmosphere of the island and the creepiness of sentient plants, and she also doesn’t shy away from some pretty strong horror elements. I like that about her. Things get pretty awful from our little group, and one begins to wonder if rescue will ever come. I’m not going to give that away, but…AJ Colucci knows her horror, and horror fans always know that in stories like this, a not so happy ending is always a possibility. This book is scary fun, and speculating about the possible sentient nature of organisms that are responsible for so many of the good things about our planet (and that humans continually abuse) is equally fun, fascinating, and food for thought.