A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bloom is the first book in the sci-fi-horror Overthrow trilogy by Kenneth Oppel, the acclaimed author of The Nest and The Boundless. It deals with plants that take over the Earth and kill lots of people. Many die from strangulation, acid burns, and being drugged and then eaten, two die in a helicopter crash and explosion. Two die in front of the main characters, another is found strangled in bed. In a gross scene, a girl pulls a plant out of someone's mouth before she suffocates. Another plant starts growing on a human neck and must be removed. People suffer horrible allergies and begin wearing masks everywhere. A store runs out of allergy medicine and a community is panicking and confused at the start of the crisis, which may be a little too close to home for some kids who have ridden out the coronavirus pandemic. Luckily, the main characters leave town halfway through Bloom and focus more on the changes they are experiencing (no spoilers) and the bravery they need to fight against the plants.
What's the story?
In BLOOM, tall, stubborn black grass begins to pop up all over a small British Columbia town. That's about the time Anaya, an acne sufferer who's always been allergic to just about everything, suddenly feels and looks better. And it's the same time her childhood friend Petra, allergic to water since the age of 11, can stand under a rain shower without breaking out in welts. And when a boy in their class named Seth helps his foster father burn down the black grass, which is suddenly everywhere on their farm, Seth is the only one who can inhale the smoke without getting sick. It's this strange immunity that turns the three teens into heroes when massive pit-like plants try to devour students at their high school. It draws the interest of Dr. Weber, a scientist with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, who would like to run some tests.
Is it any good?
This sci-fi-horror novel in which three teens are mysteriously connected to a massive plant takeover of the Earth is both a thrilling page-turner and a little extra frightening in today's times. Readers are given a cliffhanger to start when one of the teens, Anaya, swoops over a remote island on a helicopter to find her dad, a botanist studying strange plants. It's clear the plants have taken over and everyone is in danger before the story pushes back just two weeks. A lot happens in those two weeks. The plants go from a simple nuisance to human-eating/strangling/burning/gassing. And Anaya and two friends, Petra and Seth, go from teens with strange ailments to the only ones strangely immune to the plants.
It's a relief to leave town with the teens for medical testing. Bloom touches on the confusion of the plant takeover, the masks people wear for severe allergies, and the people who are no longer safe in their homes from the plants, but doesn't linger on these aspects. Readers follow the teens through their testing and their shock at what they find out (no spoilers here). It all sets up a nail-biter of a finale back on that helicopter trip and the next exciting chapter of the trilogy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how you see Bloom after the coronavirus pandemic. Do you think it changes what you pay attention to in the story? Are some parts harder to read than others?
How do the adults in the story manage the crisis? What difference does it make that Petra's mom is the police chief, Anaya's dad is the botanist studying the plants, and Dr. Weber had a son similar to Seth?
Will you read the next two books in the series? What do you think will happen to Anaya, Petra, and Seth?
- Author: Kenneth Oppel
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: March 10, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 18
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 17, 2020
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