Reviews

Seeds for the Swarm by Sim Kern

kleonard's review against another edition

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3.0

I really liked Kern's earlier novel "Depart! Depart!" but this YA novel--the first in a projected trilogy--was a little too pedantic for my liking. Younger readers might not recognize all of the education being dispensed to them as they follow the story of a young woman from "the Dust"--the barren, impoverished lands of the south of the US--as she travels to an elite university in "the Lush," where she finds that her professors have nefarious plans for saving the planet by killing most of its inhabitants. With a few rather cardboard characters, the book moves from teaching the reader about water conservation to nanotechnology to bioengineering to fungi recycling. All of the teaching is done through conversations or discoveries between the characters, and since they're at college, it might not seem too much, but after a while it begins to grate. Things that happen at the beginning of the novel inevitably return later--a wall-climbing class readies the protagonist for a later climb up a building-and after a while it becomes easy to predict what will happen next. This is a novel designed to instruct, and it does so, but at the cost of it having more fully-fleshed out characters and a less predictable, more original, series of connections overall.

lbatch's review

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Eh this was kind of coming off heavy handed & heavy and I wasn't in the mood for it

undervmountain's review

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adventurous inspiring slow-paced

4.0

 This story was kinda all over the place, but I loved it for that. Starting off in a futuristic world, we meet Rylla in a dusty town in Texas, all but abandoned by the rich elite. From there we travel to a high tech school, a Camelot themed commune, following Rylla as she battles feelings of isolation and her drug addiction.

This is mostly YA, the drug addiction just pushes it up a bit. Rylla has a more juvenile voice, and I think adult readers would be put off by this. I found her quite endearing though, and I left the story wishing I could read the sequel soon. 

slimikin's review against another edition

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adventurous dark emotional reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

johanna_b's review against another edition

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Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book!

I tried so hard with this one. I had been anticipating it for months so I'm not lying when I say I was literally jumping up and down for joy when I saw I'd received an arc. I love the genre of survival at the end of the world which I discovered earlier this year with Dustborn by Erin Bowman and so after reading the synopsis, and maybe being influenced just a little by the stunning cover, I was so excited to read this book.

The start was promising, and it wasn't until she arrived at Wingates that it started to lose me. First off, there was such a big push for usage of correct pronouns that I tired of on every page there being some comment pushing this idea. I was willing to keep going though. Then we had the trip to Camelot. Oh boy, what a disaster. The trip culminates with a sex scene with the man who Rylla is convinced is her true love. Then, a couple chapters later, she's turned to heavy drug use to forget about her problems. At that point I had to stop as, though I was interested in continuing with the story, I just couldn't get past the mature content.

Another disappointing read that I personally wouldn't recommend but I think that there are a lot of people out there who would still enjoy this book as I know other people wouldn't have a problem reading about the content mentioned above. Happy Reading :)

aayyashley's review

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adventurous challenging emotional reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.25

Sim Kern’s Seeds for the Swarm is a gripping cli-fi story that delves unflinchingly into the ethical dilemmas of humans fighting off Gotterdammerungangst, or doomsday despair, in a near-future world racked with daily climate catastrophes and soaring wealth inequality. Kern’s urgency in this story is obvious without being forceful, and the author allows their characters to breathe and actually experience development rather than magically come to correct conclusions. This refreshingly accurate depiction of growth, exemplified through the main character Rylla, counterbalances the near-magical (and incredibly fun) insertions of future technologies that drive much of the plot development. Rylla develops from an idealistic but ignorant naturalist trapped in the Dust— the former southwest US states that are now near-uninhabitable desert wastelands due to climate change— to an empathetic, nuanced defender of diverse life and Earth’s future over the course of the novel. Despite her many shortcomings, Rylla felt very familiar to me personally, as a young person witnessing the everyday destruction of natural wonders in the name of profit and consumption despite the looming threat of climate catastrophe. She very quickly experiences the variety of ways humans have learned to escape, cope with, and/or combat the impending doom, from drug use to religious fervor to militant resistance, and has remarkable sympathy for each. I love that Kern does not shy away from showing us how many of our current day societal scapegoats— drug users, for example, or climate change deniers— are the victims of misinformation, corporate or government schemes, or are merely humans trying to eke out a life despite apocalyptic circumstances rather than inherently bad or weak. Trudging through this world with such an understanding lens does mean that this novel moves moderately slow, especially with its ever-shifting and mysterious antagonists, and the reader adopts some of the same confusion and lack of trust in the story’s characters as Rylla experiences. Even this aspect of the story, though, feels like an intentional nod to Kern’s ultimate message here: there is no shortcut to a better future. Progress is as messy and grey as human nature, and any attempt to simplify or minimize the work needed to improve the conditions we inherit will only result in more mess. And our Earth can’t risk much more mess. Thank you to the author for this very needed tale!

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emeraldreverie's review

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5.0

It drew me in hard and didn't let go. Great writing, great rep, great action. Excited if more happens!

olivetales's review

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adventurous mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

mondaysshelf's review

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adventurous challenging emotional reflective fast-paced

5.0

indoordame's review

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adventurous tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.5