Just a heads up; this book - WURL - is the first in the Life Seed series, and ends on a cliffhanger, but trust me when I say the next book will be worth the wait.
That out of the way, I loved reading this book. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. I put aside a whole day to finish it, because the world-building was so incredibly good, the characters compelling, the story just *chef's kiss.* I had read a novella by this author before (Then & Now) but that was erotic romance - very good but an entirely different genre to science fiction.
Turns out, I could trust this author implicitly. His writing is solid and true, the pacing brilliant, and he knows how to spin a story. The book is an allegory for what is happening in the world right now, the subtle moral being we should learn to work with nature, not try to conquer it without understanding how it works.
Basically, Elias is a bright teenager, misunderstood by everyone around him, who has secretly been hunting for a hidden journal by a universally renowned scientist. Elias lives with his family on a relatively new colonised planet, but the human population are slowly dying, unable to grow food to sustain themselves. They are relying on a group of scientists who, when they discovered the Life Seed in a cave in the mountains, ripped it away and stuck it in a lab for testing to see how how it could benefit the human race. What Elias suspects is that the Seed need to be put back in its original place so it can continue to give life to the whole planet.
Elias is plucky and likeable, if impulsive. After his gauche attempts to tell everyone what he has found out, he steals the Seed with the intention of putting it back where it came from, as he believes it's the key to how humans can live in harmony with an increasingly hostile world.
Elias is pursued, then joined on his quest by former best friend, Tristan, who is gradually convinced by Elias's theory. Their relationship is fractured by misunderstanding, but gradually they grow closer than friends, bound by a common cause. I can't say a lot more without revealing the story, but Elias has to learn to survive on his own, surrounded by menacing creatures (wurl) who he eventually befriends.
This plot device was a masterstroke. I guarantee you'll want a wurl in your life after reading this. The story panned out exactly as I wanted it to, as Elias takes home his new knowledge and hopes to save his colony. He is pursued by the terrifying protector of the Life Seed, who has an innate hatred of humans.
In a nutshell, there are vicious battles, terrifying slithers down mountains, ventures into deep, dark caverns, unlikely friendships, a burgeoning romance between Elias and Tristan and family conflict, all set against the background of a world in crisis. This felt relevant and relatable, without being preachy. I just loved it and yes, I'll be happy to wait for the next book. I just hope the author doesn't kill off my favourite wurl.
A man must do what's right to save his colony while being pursued by armed soldiers and his former best friend.
They came to New Skye in search of a better future. The colonists, descendants of the brave people who set out to reach a new planet, found a beautiful world, rich beyond their wildest expectations.
Except for one thing. Crops will not grow in the soil of New Skye—not the way they should—and humans cannot eat the native animals. Desperate feats of botanical engineering have kept the colony alive, but time is running out as food becomes more scarce. Elias Trost will not sit idly by while his colony starves.
The one hope for a solution is the Life Seed, a dormant plant organism kept under lock and key at the heart of the colony. In desperation, Elias steals the Life Seed to return it to its rightful place, making him an outcast in the unforgiving winter world.
Pursued by colony soldiers armed to the teeth, including his former best friend, Tristan MacLeod, Elias soon runs afoul of a far greater threat. The wurl, the deadly reptiles that besiege the colony, are tracking him too, and they appear to be more intelligent than the colonists ever knew….