BloomBloom by Kenneth Oppel
My rating: 3/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne Star

fulfilling book riot’s 2020 read harder challenge task #20: Read a middle grade book that doesn’t take place in the U.S. or the UK

The first book in a can’t-put-it-down, can’t-read-it-fast-enough action-thriller trilogy that’s part Hatchet, part Little Shop of Horrors!

i read this at what i felt was an appropriate pace, and i could and did put it down, so now i’m worried that i may be a grouch. how can you tell when you’ve crossed over?

i barely read any middle grade, but this seemed like it would be right up my alley. and yet, i didn’t love it. i mean, it’s fine, i’m probably just too old for it, but i thought i would give it a shot because i’m intrigued by the new wave of eco-horror that’s been coming out lately (the novels, not the news). this one delivered more plant-specific horror than The Book of Koli, but i’m not sure if i will keep going with the series (even though i know who i am so i probably will, but it will feel more like duty than pleasure)

the plant-aggression was fun at first—seeds raining from the sky, assault-by-pollen, vines rocketing thru town, gulpy mario plants, etc

but then it got…silly.

even though it’s middle grade, the protagonists; petra, anaya, and seth, are teenagers, but they’re not much else. they’re defined by individual primary-color traits: seth is a new-here foster kid, petra is beautiful and popular and allergic to water, anaya is allergic to…everything, the girls were friends and now they are not, GO!

there’s not much character depth and there’s too much about being pretty and being jealous. the girls read kind of samey, and seth is just this moony kid in the middle of ’em; arbiter and prophetic dream-haver, forecasting that soon their individual “things” will transmute into another “thing” by which they will be identified.

Last night I had a dream. I was flying, and when I came down low over the earth, I saw both of you. And we were all something different and extraordinary.

and if you’re asking, on the runway of ‘different and extraordinary,’ i’m team petra.

things happen fast here, and again—i knoooow it’s middle grade (and canada!), but i’ve grown out of the part of me that was able to gloss over the unrealistic, which here is not so much the monster plants and…other developments, but the crisis response and management—it is too efficient! this tiny island handles the unprecedented like champs and things are more okay than they ought to be, considering.

it was a fine-not-great read for me. it’s basically a video game, with an ending that signifies a new level has begun, with more difficult challenges; donkey kong throwing barrels twice as fast or something.

someone please time machine me some donkey kong cereal.

in conclusion, i inquire BEST OR WORST TIME TO READ THIS BOOK?:

Petra knew from her dad that the little hospital was already overloaded. For most people, it was like having a really bad cold, or the flu. But some people had much more severe reactions—or life-threatening asthma attacks—and needed to be transferred to Victoria or Vancouver—where the hospitals were also packed.


A few people hurried from their cars into the shops, sneezing, covering their faces. A lot of people wore masks—a very common sight since the pollen started flying. Petra had even seen a few people with those scary heavy-duty things with the canister filter. Like in pandemic movies.


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