Catherine Stine‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:
Description of Fireseed One:
What if only your very worst enemy could help you save the world?
Fireseed One, a YA thriller, is set in a near-future earth with soaring heat, toxic waters, tricked-out amphibious vehicles, ice-themed dance clubs and fish that grow up on vines. Eighteen year-old Varik Teitur, inherits a vast sea farm after the mysterious drowning of his marine biologist father. When Marisa Baron, a beautiful and shrewd terrorist, who knows way too much about Varik’s father’s work, tries to steal seed disks from the world’s food bank, Varik is forced to put his dreams of becoming a doctor on hold and venture with her, into a hot zone teeming with treacherous nomads and a Fireseed cult who worships his dead father, in order to search for a seemingly magical hybrid plant that may not even exist. Illustrated by the author. Fans of Divergent and Hunger Games will likely enjoy this tale, as well as those readers who like a dash of romance with their page-turners.
“In FIRESEED ONE a near-future thriller set on earth it is 2089. Varik Teitur is an 18-year old, overwhelmed by life. His father, a famous marine biologist, has just died under mysterious circumstances, and someone has hacked into his computer, leaving a dizzying spam virus that taunts with hysterical cackles. Not only that, but the world’s food source-a hybrid algae called agar that his dad developed-is in jeopardy.
Enter Marisa Baron, a mysterious and beguiling female intruder, and Varik’s best friend, Auden Fleury, a fashion hound, who sells amphibious racing vehicles, and who’s had synaptic reorg for ADD. I enjoyed the author’s skillful interweaving of quirky conflicts, hot romance and scary events. What will they experience down in the desert? Will they ever find a plant to replace the lost agar? What will happen when they encounter the strange cult who worships Varik’s father as a god? Will Marisa slink back to her terrorist boyfriend or fall for Varik, her sworn enemy? Stine’s uncanny world building is both horrifying and hilarious. Bonus: the author is also a talented illustrator, whose drawings further illuminate the tale. Highly recommended for teens and adults who like fast-paced adventures and near-future imaginings.”
Fireseed One currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 5 stars from 21 reviews. Read the reviews here.
Fireseed One is available for purchase at:
An excerpt from Fireseed One:
“I don’t believe anything that Fireseed cult believes. They’re a bunch of crazies.” Rain’s laughter sounds like the tinkling of rain, and I wonder if that’s where she got her name. “Ever read about their rituals?” she asks us. We shake our heads. “They reenact the supposed historic Fireseed planting every full moon. They seal their unions in front of Fireseed statues.” She winks. “Unions, know what I mean?”
Marisa and I look pointedly away from each other.
Sending Armonk off to play, Rain invites us to sit in her circle of stones on the side of the hill. A few people glance over with curiosity and wave. We wave back. Rain brings out some liquid that looks thick and moldy and pours two small mugs of it. It tastes like minerals and it’s sour, but after I get over the texture and manage a few gulps, it does refresh. Rain explains she makes it from dribbling cups of precious water into rock crevices and scraping off the ensuing moss. Marisa asks her how they get water.
“It used to be a real ordeal to make a quart,” Rain says, “but now the runners deliver the pellets every month. I trade for my handmade clothes.”
“You mean those pellets that say Vegas-by-the-Sea?” I ask.
“How’d you know?” she asks me, generously refilling our cups.
I tell her about seeing them in the camp store. “Are the sectors that organized?” I ask. “I was always told that it was chaos down here, constant murders.”
“It was bad, very bad. That’s why we never answer our doors, especially alone. That’s why we congregate together at night.” She waves her hand over the people who are talking and beginning to cook. “Slowly, it’s getting better. Vegas Sector’s the richest one. It’d be nice to live by the ocean. Cooler. The pellet company was started by a guy in Vegas Sector we call Geo Man. He had lots of family money to invest, came from a line of old Texas oil-families. Geo Man knows about rocks and how to use the ocean water for the pellets.” She pauses. “He’s got lots of Fireseed theories, too.”
“Really!” I exclaim. “So, he’s that same geologist that Nevada mentioned.”
Rain studies me. “Who did you say you were again?”
“The famous Fireseed Professor’s son,” Marisa tells her before I can make something up. I throw Marisa a frown. No doubt these Zoners are scornful of the professor who turned his back on them.
“Ohhh.” Rain draws out the sound as she scrutinizes me. She’s silent so long I get paranoid that I’ve made her angry. Finally she says, “Nevada told me they were thinking of doing a sortie on your sea farm.”
“They did.” I hold Rain’s gaze to let her know how devastating that sortie was.
“Sorry, kid. I told Nevada to steer clear of Bryan. She lost her whole family in a dust storm when she was twelve. I take her in and feed her now and then. She works so hard running the mail from here to points west. She fell for that Bryan’s line of radical mumbo. I think the girl’s sweet on him.”
I peek at Marisa to see her reaction to this mention of Nevada’s crush. Nothing. Marisa’s face is blank. I quickly look back at Rain. “I thought Bryan was organized,” I say, as much to get more information out of her as to see where she stands.
Rain fingers her leaf necklace. “Bryan used to be respected. He put together distribution centers for underground crops he’d planned.” Rain looks at me nervously as if she figures that the seeds he was planning to sow might come from my farm. But that could be my imagination, and I’m in no mood to press her on it. “Bryan was smart, and he cared, but… Nevada told me he saw his brother torn apart for some food. People down here feel ignored by the richer folks on the north side of the border.”
I feel a hard pull of guilt when she says this.
“Lots of folks have calamities.” She shrugs. “It doesn’t give them the right to kill. I’ll sell my photon suits to other folks trying to cross the border, but not to the ZWC anymore. Not many around here approve of Bryan’s politics. They say he’s killed dozens of border guards. Blew up a Fleetcar the last time he pulled a stunt up north. It’s no way to open the border. Only makes it more impossible to cross.”
Rain turns toward the open plain, to watch her son struggle to keep pace with another boy. “You can’t get your rights from bashing someone’s head in.” She picks up a lava stone and rolls it in her hand. “God knows we’ve already tried that down here.”
Marisa and I nod silently, each in a lonely space of our own.
Rain smiles at us. “We’ve been cooped up in the cave all day. My boy needs exercise. Got to keep his one good leg nimble.”
I’m curious as to what happened to his leg, but don’t want to pry.
Rain must sense this. “It burned clear off one day after Armonk got his other leg stuck in a crevice, and was trapped outside too long. I was crazy with worry. A guy from Sector 5 found him. Had to cut that part off,” Rain says brusquely as she winds her photon cape around her. “Will you join us on a walk?”
I tell her that sounds great. Marisa admits she could use a walk because her legs are cramping. Rain calls Armonk, who comes limp-hopping back and then inside the cave. He emerges with a rusted metal box with a handle and a thin, flat-edged rod. It has a pincher on one end.
“I’m catching beetles!” He balances the rod on his shoulder like a fishing pole.
Rain leads the way down a stony path behind the caves. The view is spectacular, with endless black whorls and hills. There’s no vegetation other than the occasional thorny weed pushing up that seems to live on thin air.
Armonk limps eagerly ahead, and then pauses by the side of the path, and leans his bony elbows against an upward-sloping boulder. By the time that Rain and Marisa and I catch up, he’s examining a crack in the rock.
Rain puts a finger over her lips to warn us to keep quiet.
Armonk dips his scooper into the crevice and waits. When he slowly pulls it up, the pinchers hold a shiny blue beetle, madly cycling its legs. Armonk plunks him in the rusted metal lunchbox that I see must be from around 2025, because the faded cartoon characters of a stylized windmill and a nuclear reactor blowing steam from its ears are ones I don’t recognize. He snaps the clasps shut.
Looking up at me, he squints against the bright sunset. “Want to hunt?”
“Sure,” I say, flattered.
Rain gives me an approving nod as I head off with Armonk. He lets me hold the scooper as we go, which I’m sure is a big deal for him. I carry it high off the ground so it won’t get scraped as I stop by the next big boulder.
“Not that rock.” He points to another on the opposite side of the path. “That one.” Clearly he’s memorized the populous beetle spots.
“So, how do I do this?” I ask him.
“Pretend the rod is beetle food. Put it in and move it like a crawling ant,” he whispers. Armonk’s dark bangs dangle forward as he leans over the rock to watch me lower the scooper in the cleft.
After a few clumsy tries where I lose hold of the pinchers, I manage to pull up one of the blue beetles. “Got one!”
“You got one!” Armonk repeats. He unlatches the lunchbox and waits ceremoniously while I pop it in. I hear clapping, and turn to catch Rain’s and Marisa’s broad smiles. Suddenly shy, I look away.
Before Armonk and I reach the lowest part of the path, we’ve caught eighteen more beetles. We follow the curve of the path as it loops back up toward the cave dwellings. Armonk’s chest is puffed out and his eyes are gleaming pools of brown joy. Little hunter. My father called me that when we went on scavenge dives.
“It’s like fishing,” I tell him.
“You’ve fished? For real fish?” Armonk asks.
“Yeah, real fish. Flyfish and sometimes a shark.”
His face lights up as if he’s picturing himself in a boat. I don’t have the heart to tell him that we collect farmed Flyfish from the vine instead of taking the risk to fish in toxic waters. He limps off to tell Rain I’m a fisherman, while I wind my way up the hill.
Something grazes my hand and curls around mine, giving it a squeeze. At first I think it’s Armonk, but glancing up, I see it’s Marisa. A huge wave of emotion catches me off guard and rolls me around, almost knocking me off my feet.
“You were cute,” she says softly. “I didn’t know you had it in you.” Her face is ruddy and sweaty and she’s looking boldly at me, as if daring me in some way.
I unlatch my hand from hers. “What does that mean?”
“Your heart. You have a big heart. And you were only trying to help back there with Freddie.” Now she sounds on the verge of tears. She switches moods so fast she’s hard to figure out.
Heat rushes up my neck. “Thanks.” I fumble for her hand and latch back on. No rebellious comeback from Marisa. We’re just feeling each other’s vibes. For once, hers feel undefended. I wonder if my vibe feels like a beetle hunter-gatherer.
We walk up the hill, matching steps, listening to Rain and her boy discuss fishing and what they should fix their guests for dinner. They’re giving us our space.
“Are you being impulsive?” I can’t help asking Marisa.
“No. I’ve thought this through.” She pauses. “Do you think we’re too different?”
“To different for what?” I won’t make this easy for her.
“Too different to . . . be together?” Her skin’s lost that ruddy quality and looks delicate now, lace over blue veins. Her expression’s doubtful, afraid I might turn her down this time? I imagine her feeling that way around her father, and how he must have continually disappointed her.
I smile inside. “Different is good.”
There’s an edge of danger to Marisa. It’s less boring than being with a good girl with mousy hair from Land D who reads all the right books and stays out of trouble. I only had that one other girlfriend. Even that felt nervy, although all we did was grope each other at the Stream flicks. What will happen next with Marisa? I picture kissing her again, stroking her wild red hair that smells of violets and sweat, her pressing against me under the night sky. Not knowing how it will unfold, especially down in this untamed Hotzone, makes my breath come fast. She could’ve killed me, or run, or double-tricked me. But she’s done none of this, and now she’s helping me with her contacts. Audun was right—she was mesmerized by Bryan like those Lionfish disciples were. Conned by the clever rant. It’s scary how even smart, rational people fall into traps. Our earlier argument seems far away. We’re both growing out of our old skin, like two desert lizards, and the feeling of connecting is amazing.
At the crest of the hill by the cave entrances, we turn to each other at the same time and find each other’s lips. Hers taste of salty sweat, yet of sweetness. Her skin brushing against the palms of my hands feels like plush leaves.
She’s spring sun after polar night.
Fireseed One is available for purchase at:
Connect with Catherine Stine:
To “Like” the Fireseed book page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fireseed-One/160174947415366
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1018139.Catherine_Stine
Catherine’s blog: www.catherinestine.blogspot.com