Parable of Weeds by Jeff Vande Zande

Parable of Weeds by Jeff Vande Zande
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (51 pages)
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Astilbe

Ian Baptiste was finally starting to see some light in his life after the tragic death of his wife. Following a significant promotion, he’d been able to move with his son into WhisperWood, an exclusive, gated neighborhood. His son was thriving and getting ready to go off to college. Ian’s most recent work with predictive analytics was attracting even more attention to him from the company executives. Still, something nagged at him. Something didn’t feel quite right. Something was off. All of his feelings came to a head when he looked through a crack in the wall behind his home and discovered something that both broke and awakened his heart. In the spirit of 1984, Brave New World, and Fahrenheit 451, Parable of Weeds is a speculative look at a possible future.

Imagine suddenly discovering the dark underbelly of your seemingly perfect society. Is it better to ignore what is really happening or try to fix it?

Even though Ian has made some poor decisions in the past I had trouble faulting him for them. He’s worked hard to earn the luxuries he now enjoys, and I would find it difficult to turn away from those amenities if I was in his shoes. What really endeared me to his character, though, was the bond he struggles to maintain with his teenage son, Jordan, as a single parent. Every one of Ian’s decisions was made with his son’s best interests at heart, and even though they aren’t as close as they were when the boy’s mother was alive it is in the intense emotional connection between Ian and Jordan that the former truly becomes a well-rounded character.

The author’s extremely vivid descriptions of the people Ian encounters and the places he visits made me feel like I experiencing this story alongside him instead of simply reading about it. What impressed me even more was how few words Mr. Zande required in order to accomplish this. In the first scene he describes his fellow passengers in such eerie detail that I felt as though I could draw an accurate picture of what each one of them looked like.

I sincerely hope the author considers writing another short story about these characters. Ian’s adventures have only just begun, and I am eager to hear about the decisions he makes after the final scene in this one.

Parable of the Weeds is an excellent example of how speculative science fiction can criticize the dark side of modern day society. I never wanted it to end, and I highly recommend reading this to anyone in the mood for a riveting tale with a somber, timely message.

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