The first half of this book moved so slowly that I was close to giving up on it (which is not something I do very often), but during the second half, The Growing Season evolved into a very thought-provoking piece of writing that has obviously had a lot of care & effort put into it. This work of science-fiction has had more thought put into it than a lot of SF books get, & Sedgwick has explored a vast range of issues in this version of the future.
I was sent an eARC by the publisher in return for an honest review.
Trigger Warning: this book contains discussions of stillbirths, domestic abuse & suicide.
The Growing Season is set about three generations into our current future & is based around an invention called “the pouch“. The pouch is essentially a scientifically-made, portable womb that changes the way we live; the story is mainly set in London & I have to admit that I really appreciate that an English woman created the invention. The plot of the story is based around a few different people, some who love the pouch & some who hate it, & explores what happens when science fails.
As I said in my introduction to the review, the first half of the book moved quite slowly for me; it took a while for the main plot to really get going & some of the characters (Kaz & Rosie) really irritated me at the beginning. I very nearly gave up on the book between 40% – 50%, but now that I’ve finished it I’m really glad I didn’t. During the second half, the pace of the story really gets upped & the main characters really start to shine.
A lot of the plot of this book surrounds a stillbirth, which could be triggering for some readers, but I personally think it was handled very well (although I’ve not experienced a miscarriage or a stillbirth so my opinion is pretty much irrelevant). I liked that Sedgwick included a lot of extended family in the reaction to the stillbirth, especially the inclusion of the father’s family. A lot of care has been put into trying to write the sensitive scenes in the right way, not one scene has been written coldly, & for that I think Sedgwick should be congratulated.
The main thing about this book that I really loved was how much thought Sedgwick has put into all the different consequences that an invention like the pouch could have; the characters all discuss things like people who want to have children, but not a relationship/partnership, same-sex couples, transgender parents, disabled parents (something that really made me smile) etc. etc. etc… but it’s the negatives of this kind of invention that are really explored. There is a lot of discussion of “pouch abuse“; pouch abuse is when a male parent takes control of the pouch & uses it as an emotional weapon against the mother (this is something that particularly bothers the creator of the pouch). The book also explores the fact that pouches become an alternative to abortions – this results in a lot of “unwanted” children being born & orphanages becoming overrun & underfunded. There is also a lot of focus on how being born through pouches may change human genetics & what the consequences of this might be.
I mentioned the deep & detailed thought that had gone into the repercussions of this kind of invention multiple times in my reading notes, & thats simply because it’s been done so, so well. A main issue with a lot of science-fiction is gaps in the world-building or unanswered questions, but Sedgwick has really tried her hardest to include absolutely every avenue, be it social, political, scientific, medical or financial. I really appreciated this story & how much it made me think about science & mother nature. Although I said the start of the book is slow, I do think this is a book worth reading if you like science-fiction & I think it will be a very popular book once it is released.