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The Cloud Seeders
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2012
Loved this book.

The characters are well drawn and the storyline of a green-is-good/save the water world gone terribly awry, is very intriguing. I especially enjoyed the relationship between the brothers which I found true to life and funny even when the situation was tense. The underlying love story between Jerusha and Thomas, Thomas and Dustin, and the Boys and their parents was very rewarding as well, as each subtly grew in their own way as the story progressed.

I also found myself looking forward to reading the poetry between each chapter....very creative and well worth reading for the poetry itself. I could definitely see them making this book into a movie and it would be fun to see how they incorporate the poetry.

Highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read with a slightly different storyline, great writing and great characters.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2012
I can't remember the last book I flipped through the pages so quickly. I didn't want to put it down. Very creative story of love, family, politics and our intertwined relationship with nature. I love the author's style. This is a book anyone would enjoy.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2013
I enjoyed this book quite a bit...enjoyed it enough that it kept me up until 1:00 am finishing it. And it was not just that the plot was interesting. The prose was also extremely sharp, gorgeous in a wonderfully stark way, and the descriptions were often unique and startling too...brand new ways of looking at things that made me think 'Of course!' after reading them. More than once, I caught myself re-reading paragraphs just for the beauty of the language.

I liked how the author built the atmosphere with its ever-present sense of thirst and drought. The parched descriptions were clear and pervasive, firmly placing the reader in the setting created. I could almost smell the dust as I turned the pages. It made me want to reach for my chapstick and a water bottle.

Additionally, I liked the political ambiguity in the story. Many post-apocalyptic or dystopian books smack you with a message...blare it from left or right. However, this one did not fall into stereotypes. It largely placed the characters beyond such things while not ignoring the politics in the background.

I also appreciated how well drawn the main character, Thomas, was. I really got a sense of him and how fiercely he loved the people who mattered to him. A bit of an underdog, he was an eighteen-year-old boy, forced by circumstance and the loss of his parents, to shoulder a huge amount of responsibility. He struggled thoughout the book to take care of his little brother and do right by the girl he loves, and I enjoyed getting to spend time in his head...along for the ride as he beat the odds.

I noted that some categorized this book as 'Young Adult'. While it might, at first glance, seem to fit into that category with it's young protagonist, it did not feel like a book written for teens. Beyond the more obvious things such as sex and adult language, both of which are present in the book...although it is not graphic or gratuitous by any means, there is also, scattered throughout, some really interesting and thought-provoking poetry -- poetry that does not seem geared for adolescents. So while I'm sure older teens would enjoy the story, I think the book defies such a narrow categorization.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2012
Wouldn't you enjoy reading a fabulous love story? Or perhaps reading a terrific coming-of-age story? Well, lucky for you, Jamie Zerndt gives you both in his debut novel, The Cloud Seeders. In this tender, poetic, beautifully written book, Zerndt will have you in tears and in stitches, in no time at all. Once you start it, you won't want to put this novel down! I didn't.

--Jonathan Harris, author of The Wave That Did Not Break.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2013
I had to give this book three stars because I found a lot of the content unnecessary- a.k.a. the sex scene and language. Honestly though, it was an interesting book, all that aside. How can you not enjoy a book that makes you wonder: What if your world suddenly became one long drought? What if there was some more sinister plot behind it all? And what if there was something you could do about it but in the process possibly destroy the things you hold dear?
Overall, I'd probably recommend this as an YA novel.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2012
Very decent for a first book and a free price. The writing felt a bit juvenile but then again the narrator is very young. The avid reader in me picked up on a vibe that it was more lack of writing skill than purposeful feature. The story line was pretty predictable and there wasn't much character development, and a very odd sex scene that felt awkward and out of place.

But overall, a nice read.

Maybe I'm biased coming from having just read some amazing series written by extremely accomplished authors.
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70 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2013
Given the debate I seem to have stirred I've decided to examine this subject with less emphasis on the pedagogical, moral, and ethical and please understand I exaggerate for effect. If you grew up typing your college essays on a typewriter and called your friends on a rotary telephone you will find this a difficult read; if you spent your days in constant contact on a smartphone texting and got essay ideas on the internet then this may be for you. Whether or not you consider teenage sex before marriage healthy may play a factor in your decision as well. If you prefer the family values of Father Knows Best and Andy Griffith to that of The Simpsons then you probably won't like this text. I still find swearing puerile, especially if it involves children, stevedores and homeless street-people less jarring and I don't care what rating the book has. This is my opinion and it seems to be shared by many others. If you like this sort of thing that's your privilege. I have made my last entry on the matter.

Thomas and his little brother Dustin inhabit a dystopian Orwellian World in which malevolent forces control the weather and water is as scare as it was in Frank Herbert's Dune. Water cops enforce water conservation and issue fines or worse. Their parents, a scientist and a poet, the secret of whose death Thomas keeps from his brother, left behind the means of climate manipulation and a book of their mother's poetry one of which prefaces each chapter.

The writing style feels awkward and it takes considerable time to warm to the characters and get involved in the story. As a book for young readers it contains too much profanity and sexual innuendo. The book's strengths lie in the unfolding relationship between the brothers and to a lesser degree that between Thomas and his enigmatic girlfriend Jerusha as they embark on a treacherous road trip.

It seems authors not only read their reviews but send snarky comments to those who write them.

This book seems aimed at 14-year-olds who can't spell, don't understand grammar or syntax, omit words and spend their time texting but due to the profanity in it is rated as for adults only.

To me profanity makes the writer seem puerile. The fact that authors have won awards despite the profanity in their books is not justification for its use. Fine, if you want to write pornography do so and call it that. Those with would profess to write literature should aspire to elevate human nature, not pander to the lowest common denominator.

If you feel the need to emulate the dialogue of semi-literate teens fine, but does the remaining text need to be filled with missing words, miss-spellings, and grammatical errors? If an author doesn't recognize his short-comings he should hire a good editor.

The author claims to have cleaned up the book and it now lacks an Adults Only Rating. I still have my reservations and don't consider it worth my time to take a second look at this book but add this disclaimer to the above.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Every once in a while I read a book I will never forget. James Zerndt's THE CLOUD SEEDERS, a post-apocalyptic saga set in a drought-plagued future, is one of those books. It's the story of three young people who stand up against a world determined to keep them down. The narrator, eighteen-year-old Thomas, is eking out a living as a "Water Cop," handing out "tickets" to people who dare to break the government's restrictive laws. His nine-year-old brother Dustin works with him as a "cadet," and he takes doling out the tickets very seriously (the more tickets he and Thomas give out, the more water they earn as a bonus). Neither Thomas nor Dustin has seen their parents in over a year. Thomas's true love is Jerusha, who rebels against the system every chance she gets - she's running a bootleg water business in her basement, and she's a die-hard conspiracy theorist (the government, she says, is definitely out to get them). When Thomas decides to take Dustin on a cross-country road trip in search of their parents (who are supposedly doing meteorological research at a secret lab somewhere in California), Jerusha insists on going with them. They have a beat-up car, a map belonging to their father with government check-points marked in pencil, and the address of a repair shop called "Twink's Auto Repair." Thus begins a journey that will ultimately change all three characters, as well as the world in which they live.

This post-apocalyptic world is definitely depressing. For some reason, there has been little or no rain for years. Everything seems to be dead or dying, including the hordes of "Leftovers" (or homeless people, labeled the "Internally Displaced" by the government) that roam the streets or hide out in crude shelters. Water is worth its weight in gold, and desperate people take desperate measures (including using Recyclers to turn urine into usable water) to stay alive. The President makes periodic speeches encouraging everyone to "Stay Green," and citizens are bribed with water bonuses to turn in their neighbors for violations.

There are definitely shades of other post-apocalyptic horror stories here, including McCarthy's THE ROAD, Orwell's 1984, and the 1973 film SOYLENT GREEN. But Zerndt's story is distinctly original. Thomas is a wonderfully developed character whose words carry with them a truth that is instantly believable. This is a young man who has been put in the position of having to care for his younger brother in a world gone to hell. His love for Dustin is palpable, and so is the weight of the responsibility he shoulders. Dustin himself is a mixture of childish insecurities and adult rage - he misses his parents desperately, and he wants nothing more than to play a real part in finding them and solving the mysteries of the nightmare world in which he lives. Thomas and Dustin are two very young people forced to do things even adults would have difficulty coping with. Their story is remarkable.

Equally engaging is their relationship with Jerusha, who becomes a true mother to Dustin just as she becomes a lover for Thomas. She is a strong and self-willed woman, and her outspoken antagonism against the government becomes a focal point for the story. From the beginning, she wants to fight; it takes Thomas longer, but in the end the three of them will fight together. And the character Twink (who run's "Twink's Auto Repair") helps solidify the connection between Dustin, Thomas, and Jerusha, as well as give readers a little hope that not all adults are government stooges and sell-outs.

One of the most interesting parts of THE CLOUD SEEDERS is the poetry, written by Thomas's mother, that is interspersed between the chapters. The poems are funny and poignant and very, very important to the story Zerndt is telling. I found myself looking forward to the breaks between chapters when I'd get to read another of Thomas's mother's poems. The last one, called "Eat the Rich: A Recipe," was my favorite. Throughout their road trip, Dustin is reading these poems (from a book left behind by his mother) and talking to Thomas about them. They become almost a road map for the journey these characters have undertaken.

My only criticism - and it's a very minor quibble - is that it's never clear when THE CLOUD SEEDERS is taking place. Many of the pop culture references made by Thomas are from the `70's ("Star Wars," "Rambo," "Mr. T") or even earlier ("Tony the Tiger," Elvis, Woodstock). Would a future teen (even a near-future teen) really be familiar with such things? Additionally, Thomas seems to know an awful lot about an awful lot of things. Dustin has continuing questions about words and concepts he finds in his mother's poems, and Thomas is always able to provide the answers. He seems to be a bit more knowledgeable than would be expected for a teenager who never finished high school. But these things really are very minor complaints, and they in no way detract from what is a wonderful story.

The important thing is that THE CLOUD SEEDERS is a beautifully written and carefully plotted novel that is definitely worth reading. It has been billed as a Young Adult title, but I must warn parents that there are most definitely language and sexuality issues that might make it unsuitable for younger teens. That said, the YA market is a broad one, and the tone and style of Zerndt's story is reminiscent of M. T. Anderson's FEED, which also contains mature language and sexual situations. I found the language totally appropriate (and nothing today's teens aren't hearing on a daily basis). The sex, on the other hand, is probably more graphic than is found in most YA books today. But I would have had no problem with my sons reading this book when they were in high school.

Bottom line, read this book! It may start out as a depressing tale of government-gone-bad, but the ending offers real hope (and real potential for sequels). I love Thomas and Dustin and Jerusha. And I will never forget their story. Highly recommended.

[Please note: I was provided a copy of this book for review; the opinions expressed here are my own.]
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2012
This was an ok book. The concept, of a permanent drought state in the U.S., is interesting. Water is so strictly rationed that ther are Water Police whose job is to give out tickets for inappropriate water use. I'm not talking about watering the lawn on the wrong day--some of the infractions are punishable by death. Thomas and his girlfriend, Jeshua, and his 9 year old smart-aleck brother, set off on a road trip, ostensibly to find their parents. Thomas knows they're dead but hasn't told his brother. It turns out that there's more to their deaths than Thomas knows.

There are a couple of plot holes, such as them stopping off at a small lake that's 'off the map.' The main premise of this story is that the government has very tight control over the country's water supplies; there shouldn't be anything like this that's accessible to 'civilians.' The characters do grow and change because of their experiences and there are a couple of good supporting characters. There is enough intrigue and misdirection to keep readers wanting to know what happens next to our heroes.

I didn't assume this was a YA book but I think it would be suitable for mature middle-school readers, although there is some profanity and a sex scene that's more implied than detailed.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2014
This book started off with terms, although a sci-fi, still should have been made somewhat described enough so I could follow them. The terms used just were there for me to interpret. As I got through the book halfway or so, I began to catch on to most of them. They should at least have been described for the reader as they were used. The story line was a mess from beginning to the end. Subplots were began but never finished, just left dangling for the reader to finish as the reader wished.... or not at all. It was kind of like this book, and my suggestion is to not begin it at all! It is about a couple of children who had scientific parents that learned to manage the weather and rain. As the book continues, the children end up in a problems that are to do with a search for ... ? It is never made clear exactly what the search was for, whether to find water or to come to the truth about the parents' deaths. The entire book was a total disconnect as far as I was concerned. To begin with, the ages of the children made this book an impossibility to the story line and whatever plot there was. If the author can't even connect the ages to the proper part of the story line, then English Lit 101 was a waste of time! My advice is to not bother to even download this to start with, much less plod through whatever story line or part of it you are reading at the time is worth trying to connect to the story as a whole!
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