The Growing Season – by Helen Sedgwick
4 star read
Why I read: Science fiction and dystopia with strong feminist themes
Book blurb: “Now anyone can have a baby. With FullLife’s safe and affordable healthcare plan, why risk a natural birth?
Without the pouch, Eva might not have been born. And yet she has sacrificed her career, and maybe even her relationship, campaigning against FullLife’s biotech baby pouches. Despite her efforts, everyone prefers a world where women are liberated from danger and constraint and all can share the joy of childbearing. Perhaps FullLife has helped transform society for the better? But just as Eva decides to accept this, she discovers that something strange is happening at FullLife.
Piotr hasn’t seen Eva in years. Not since their life together dissolved in tragedy. But Piotr’s a journalist who has also uncovered something sinister about FullLife. What drove him and Eva apart may just bring them back together, as they search for the truth behind FullLife’s closed doors, and face a truth of their own.
A beautiful story about family, loss and what our future might hold, The Growing Season is an original and powerful novel by a rising talent”
A beautiful, thought provoking book. Exquisitely layered with hope, sadness, heart-break, love, family, science-fiction and dystopia. Set in the near future where a bio-tech baby pouch has been invented and is owned by a private-for profit FullLife Company who have exclusive rights to the pouches. This pouch is marketed to allow anyone to experience pregnancy and as an end to female equality issues. A journalist discovers that there are problems with some of the babies being born from the pouches which is being covered up by the FullLife Company. A mix of characters try to figure out what is happening and causing babies to die in the pouches, as there is a lot at stake both financial and society wide.
This book explores many ethical dilemmas around women’s roles, equality, family, life and death. This is done in a wonderfully thought out and caring way that forms part of the book and the characters views. The pros and cons of the science and how this impacts on society are explored which I enjoyed as science ethics really interests me. Earlier parts of the book run a little slow but the last section makes up for this. The thriller part of the novel runs slim, a lot of pages are devoted to backstories of the characters and their views, and exploring the ethics around the technology. To me this added to the book, giving emotion and making it a really thought-provoking read. Some themes reminded me of the Handmaiden’s Tale with its look at how conceiving babies is a woman’s role but how the pouch could transform that. But The Growing Season is a wonderfully original novel that deserves a place amongst the must-reads of dystopian fiction.
Sedgewich writes in a passionate, evocative prose that is very captivating. The characters are all human, fleshed out with flaws and strengths, errors and achievements that allow you to connect with them. At times I got a little confused with who’s story I was reading as characters would switch around within chapters so you do need to pay attention.
It is a book I will read again, for the hope contained within the pages for a better future and the beautiful tale of love and heartbreak.
I’d recommend to anyone who likes: Strong female characters, science fiction, dystopia, feminism, science ethics.
I received a free advanced reader copy via Netgallery in return for an honest review.