Every once in a while, you come across a book that is so different that it stands apart from all the books that are so much the same. Sometimes such books become bestsellers, and sometimes, sadly, they live unnoticed and largely unknown; gathering dust on a library shelf until one lucky day, a reader picks it up and gets a huge unexpected surprise.
I just read one of those books. It was just recently self-published by an author that I like. He writes really well with a nice, clean style and no beating around the bush. No info dumps and no long passages about the terrain, shrubbery or weather. Like I like.
I hate spoilers, so I’ll never provide any. I’ll just say this: the story takes place 1,000 years in the future. The main character, Thurii, is a misfit. He isn’t like anyone else, and couldn’t be if he tried. He violates customs, regulations, laws, and all accepted rules of civilized behavior. He’s not trying to be a rebel, and he doesn’t like the fact that he’s been a lifelong problem for the parents he loves. He just doesn’t perceive the world the way everyone else does.
Thurii is a freak with a secret that no one knows. They all know he’s different and doesn’t behave, but what they don’t know is that he can see. Everyone else is blind.
That alone didn’t seem like it was going to make for an interesting book, but knowing that the writer is really good, I decided I had to have more of his stuff to read, so I bought this book. As it turned out, I fell in love with it. The world created by John Zanetti in which everyone is blind was so fully believable that you can’t help but get immersed in the story. In addition to this physical peculiarity, there is also a fully different culture, belief system, environment, etc. The story really transports you to a time, place, and culture that you’ve never been to before.
All writers are creators of worlds, but the thing is, we’ve been to them before – even if we haven’t been to a specific place, we’ve been to one very much like it. In a sci-fi, you end up on another planet that is similar to other planets you’ve been to. In fantasy, you encounter new races, but they’re very much like other races. In other fiction, you may see Earth in a different time or a different way, but it’s very much like ways it’s been portrayed before.
In The Gardener Who Could See, I felt like I had experienced something completely new for the first time in a long time. Incredibly detailed and original. It’s a book that will stick with you and leave a mark. The only book I can remotely compare it to – at least in the sense of it’s differentness is The Canticle of Leibowitz. But it’s nothing at all like that book. There’s really not anything like it to where I could say, “If you liked “such and such,” you’ll like this.
I can only say that if you’d like to enjoy something uniquely original and engrossing, then give it a try.
If I had to categorize it, I’d call it a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, romance. If you like any of those three genres, you just may love this book. But try not to think in terms of reducing something down to a genre. Some books defy genre, and this is one of those.