Bloom: The Overthrow, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Bloom: The Overthrow, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Killer plants take over the Earth in gripping series start.

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Kids say

age 9+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Plant biology terms sprinkled throughout, like allomones and rhizomes. Also, some DNA science and details about a rare allergy to water.

Positive Messages

Forgiveness and friendship. Bravery in the face of the unknown. Trust in scientists and law enforcement during an emergency.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Three main characters: Anaya, Petra, and Seth. All step up to become heroes when they realize that no one can do what they can. Anaya and Petra resolve a petty feud and become friends again. Seth is in foster care and learns to open up to his new friends, despite all the setbacks he's had. One mom is a pilot, another a police chief, another a genetic scientist.

Violence

As plants take over the Earth, many die from strangulation, acid burns, and being drugged and then eaten. Two die in front of the main characters, another is found strangled in bed. A helicopter crash and fire kills the pilots. A bloated body is found underwater. A man suffers a heart attack after smoke inhalation. In a gross scene, a girl pulls a plant out of someone's mouth. Another plant starts growing on a human neck and must be removed. People being eaten are rescued with giant chainsaws and suffer acid burns. Two don't survive. 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. Mentions of abductions and rape.

Sex

Brief kissing and talk of wanting to kiss someone.

Language

"Crap" and "friggin'" used rarely.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Anaya's parents give her a small glass of red wine (she's an older high schooler). Anaya's cool smoking friend offers her a cigarette. She tries one puff, coughs all over, and decides it was a bad idea.

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.

User Reviews

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Kid, 10 years old October 6, 2020

not good

The story is ok. But the main characters are very annoying.

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?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horror and science fiction

Themes & Topics

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