Sunday, 24 July 2011

Book Review: Season of the Harvest by Michael R Hicks

Season Of The Harvest"What if the genetically modified crops that we increasingly depend on for food weren’t really created by man? What if they had a far more sinister purpose?" asks the blurb for Season of the Harvest. Topical with a hint of the X Files, it sounded worth a look.

FBI Special Agent Jack Dawson has been told to keep out of the investigation into the gruesome death of his best friend and fellow agent, who had been investigating an eco-group and was suspected of going rogue. This group believes that a major company, with friends in high places, is developing genetically modified grain that could lead to the demise of mankind. While Jack initially dismisses the group, including beautiful genius Naomi Perrault, as cranks but once he sees what they have seen he gradually realises the threat is serious. They have to act fast once events start to escalate in order to prevent the end of the world as we know it.

First up the plot. I really like stories that have a decent grounding in science but take it that step further. This falls firmly within that camp. No little green men here, but the bad guys definitely aren't human. For me though the scarier element is the highly plausible suggestion that there might be ruthless corporations out there trying to genetically modifying organisms within the food chain for their own ends. It's closer to sci-fact than sci-fi. Reading the author's note at the end it appears a lot of research has gone into this book and I learnt some (worrying) things I didn't know. The book starts with action, and the ride didn't really let up from there. I thought it was really well paced and built to a great climax. This was the sort of book I was picking up every time I had 5 minutes to spare, and I was reluctant to put it down.

Next, there were some great characters. Jack has a traumatic past and after his friend's death is plunged into battle with a terrible enemy but stays strong and in control, with fleeting moments of doubt. Naomi is a strong, smart woman and I wanted to be irritated that she's gorgeous too (feels a bit cliched) but I couldn't help warming to her. There were also more minor characters that I empathised with, all with very human strengths and weaknesses. I even liked the cats (and I'm a dog person) Early on in the book I felt a little overwhelmed by all the characters, particularly trying to figure out who was on what side. However I soon got things straight in my mind. My only other criticism would be that a lot of the action is based in a former Cold War missile base. It is described in detail but I still couldn't really envision it and couldn't immerse myself as much as I might like to. 

I loved the pace and the action, and could easily envision this on the big screen. I'd certainly like to see more of Jack Dawson's adventures in future. If you like action and thrillers but not sci-fi I'd still suggest it's well worth a go.

Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 4*


Jessica L. Buike said...

Wow this book sounds amazing! Can't wait to check it out!!

Webbiegrrl Writer said...

Tracy, I know I mentioned this film to you before but I have to mention it again since it's spot on subject here: Get a copy of the Pollan documentary FOOD INC.

FOOD INC. looks at not only how the planetary food supply is genetically-modified - the majority of crops grown and consumed by humans are now genetically modified instead of naturally mutated plants that evolve with the planet - but also how the food supply (plants AND animals we eat) are poisoned by the HANDFUL of corporations in control of the food supply. Planetary, not local. There are between 5 and 8 total. They not only genetically modify the grain they feed to cattle etc. but they infuse the animals's (cattle, pigs, fowl) feed with antibiotics to make those further up the food chain (i.e., HUMANS) unable to form those antibodies naturally. In other words, we're basically being made UNFIT to survive and we're doing it to ourselves.

While one might think "Okay, I'll eat fish instead" the problem there is the mercury and other toxins in the planet's oceans that are now seeping into the food chain. The other toxins come from the (multiple) Great Oceanic Garbage Dumps. The plastics, which never completely biodegrade, DO unfortunately release toxic compounds as they decompose to less complex / less soluable materials. They degrade and poison the environment they're in. Worse, fish and birds EAT the decomposing plastic--thinking the little bits of stuff floating on the water are FOOD--and then they either CHOKE on it or are poisoned by it. And then WE actually eat THOSE tainted food sources.

It's pretty scary. After seeing that flick, I went around for weeks kind of stunned into immobility. I mean, what exactly can you DO with all that information? I still don't know. I saw the film in February of this year. Still working on it but at least I haven't bought/eaten any chicken or beef since then. I won't support the industry doing this to us. I miss meat, though. Gotta find myself an organic farmer who doesn't do this crap. I am not a vegetarian!

Webbiegrrl Writer said...

Oh, and while I'm obviously passionate about this subject, I'm not still not sold on Hicks's book, even from your review. Ah well, at least I read your review! :)

TC said...

Glad you like the sound of it Jessica.

Amazing info Sarah. I'm too scared to watch a lot of those docs, I'd end up eating nothing and doing nothing if I did. I have read a bit about GM and organic/non-organic and it's all a bit worrying! I'm just pleased Europe is a lot stricter than the US about GM foods.