"Season of the Harvest," Michael R. Hicks

Pros: Fascinating setup; characters become more interesting as the book goes on; tense plot and action
Cons: One or two TSTL (too stupid to live) moments; main characters are bland at first; insta-attraction between the main chars is overdone
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

 

After reading Fragment I was more desperate than ever for a good bio-thriller, and I’d heard good things about Michael R. Hicks’s Season Of The Harvest (thank goodness for following book-people on Twitter). So I picked up the Kindle version and was on my way.

Jack Dawson is an FBI special agent. His best friend, a fellow agent, was murdered in a very unusual and violent manner while pursuing an off-the-books interest. Soon Jack is caught up in a bizarre case involving genetically modified crops, a bunch of nuts who think the earth is being invaded by aliens, the possible extermination of all mankind, and… cats. He’s also falling in love with Naomi Perrault, the brilliant geneticist who helped to design the mysterious seeds people will kill to obtain, and who might be involved with Jack’s friend’s death. And that’s before things really get interesting!


 

For about the first third to a half of the book, I found Jack and especially Naomi a bit bland and underdeveloped; this wasn’t helped by the fact that it was love at first sight between these two, with no lead-in, so I had trouble buying into the insta-chemistry between them. Naomi in particular started out a little too blandly perfect, and for a while I thought that a couple of other characters would have made better leads. Eventually they grew into their roles, however, and I ended up enjoying them as leads. I even ended up buying into their chemistry and relationship. While I think the lead-up could have been better, it ended up being satisfying.

There were one or two “too stupid to live” moments. When you’ve just found out there might be a traitor in your group, no matter how much you want to disbelieve it, you do not leave the woman who is investigating the matter (and who is the only person who has a hope of figuring out the answer) entirely alone, without any sort of guard. Also, you do not send your most brilliant geneticist (who seems to be fairly irreplaceable) out on minor field ops when there is no expertise-related reason why you need her there instead of any other person with a gun. It’s a wonder some of these folks survived to make it into the book.

Now that I have that out of my system, however, I can move on to the good stuff! Given all the ways in which genetically modified crops have been in the news lately (in many cases detailing adverse physical effects on people and/or animals, or ways in which supposedly pest-resistent crops are just helping to create better pests), the topic is timely and fascinating. I had a little trouble at first getting behind the wild “is it aliens?” question, but Hicks makes it work. I really enjoyed finding out what was going on and how it was being accomplished.

In fact, the further the book progressed, the harder it became to look away. The action roped me in. The bad guys and their allies turned out to be pretty damn interesting—much more so than you might imagine at first. Hicks isn’t afraid to totally alter the face of the world in the course of events, and because of that there are plenty of surprises. There were times when I truly had difficulty imagining how the characters would make things work out, and I definitely became invested in the outcome!

As long as you don’t mind a shaky start, Season of the Harvest is a tense, fascinating ride with plenty of action, surprises, and excitement. I definitely enjoyed the experience.

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