Zera and the Green Man

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The book opens the day before Zera Green’s fifteenth birthday, a day she is dreading because, instead of celebrating, she has to attend a fast-food opening. One of the selling points of All-American Burger Depot is their Beefy Fries, created by Zera’s uncle and guardian, Theodore. Beefy Fries are made from potatoes mixed with the genetic material of cows, and they are just one of the strange and horrifying genetic mash-ups for which Theodore is responsible—the potatoes bleed when cut. Zera hates these hybrids because she feels a connection to plants—a connection that only intensifies when she returns to Ute Springs to visit her grandma. Here, the plants start talking to her, warning her of grave danger that only she can stop. With the plants’ help, she must put an end to the horrible experiments occurring in her uncle’s lab.

While there are a few of the standard elements of young adult fiction—the main character realizing her powers, a blossoming romance—the book is first and foremost a plea to stop genetically modifying foods and to be nicer to the earth. While I don’t dispute the message, Knauf can be too heavy-handed with it. Some parts read as if they were taken straight from Greenpeace pamphlets on the dangers of genetically modified organisms. Anybody who doesn’t already agree with Knauf’s position will probably not enjoy this book.

Still, aside from a slow start, Zera and the Green Man is an enjoyable book. Zera is a typical teenager, allowing the reader to easily identify with her. Knauf tells the story through both Zera and Theodore’s points of view, which creates wonderful foreshadowing. It also allows the reader to experience Theodore’s growth, which is much more profound than Zera’s. The minor characters are exquisite: lively, entertaining, and complex. While some of the fantastic elements stretch believability, this feels like a cohesive tale that green-leaning readers should enjoy.

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Star Count 3/5
Format Trade
Page Count 374 pages
Publisher Greenwoman Publishing, LLC
Publish Date 10-Aug-2013
ISBN 9780989705608
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue January 2014
Category Young Adult


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