Book Review: No One Dies in the Garden of Syn (The Garden of Syn Book 1) by Michael Seidelman

Syn has spent her whole life struggling with cystic fibrosis, until one day she's pushed into a pond and wakes up in a strange place called "the garden" where illness doesn't exist and she can live symptom-free, but the longer she stays, the more danger she finds. She wants to get home, but, when she realizes this place might have something to do with her parents' disappearance, she's determined to stay long enough to figure the mystery out.

Book Review: No One Dies in the Garden of Syn (The Garden of Syn Book 1) by Michael Seidelman | reading, books, book reviews, science fiction, young adult
Title: No One Dies in the Garden of Syn
Book Number: Book 1 of 3
Pages: 181
My Rating: 4 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


*I received a free ecopy of this book from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.*

As excited as I was for this book, it had the potential to go very wrong for me. I don’t handle vague mysteriousness very well. If someone is trying to solve a mystery and just doesn’t have all the clues yet, that’s one thing. But when unexplained paranormal things start happening and everyone is just vague for no discernible reason, I usually feel like throwing my book across the room. And this book had a lot of vague, mysterious, paranormal stuff.

But the payoff was so worth it.

By the end of the book, I had every single answer that I wanted, and the explanation was quite a doozy, but in the best way possible! It was still in the realm of fantasy (maybe also a little sci-fi), but it made sense in that context and was shocking without making me feel like I was cheated or misled in any way.

But what I loved even more about this book was the way the chronic illness was included. Number one, this was a fantasy book with a chronically ill character. You don’t see that often. Fantasy is a genre severely lacking in diversity in that regard. Number two, the book wasn’t about chronic illness, it was about a character… whose life just happened to be affected by an illness. It played a big part, but it wasn’t the only part—more of an influence on things than a focal point. And number three, the illness was something very real, not something that turned out to be a paranormal thing in the end. And though I don’t know much about cystic fibrosis myself, it seemed like the author did his research. He also did a good job pointing out the types of things many of us without CF take for granted, like simply being able to cry when you’re sad without having to worry about making any lung symptoms worse.

As for all the rest, well, I ended up finishing this book in a day because I didn’t want to put it down, so I can safely say I really liked it. The plot was good, the writing was good, and the main character was determined and likeable. She made a lot of rash decisions, and a couple of them were not the best and didn’t make sense to me, but most of them were understandable.

Also, is that cover not gorgeous?!

Overall, I thought this book was great with a well done paranormal mystery that included chronic illness in a really good way. I’m even more excited for the next book than I was for this one!


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  1. Greg

    It’s got an intriguing premise- and of course nothing is free so we know THAT’s coming. lol And I can’t tell you how irritated I get when answers are not provided. Come on people I need to know. So it’s nice that the author provides that. I like a shocking ending that feels totally earned too- those are the best. 🙂 It’s probably not my kind of read but I do like how the author included a real life illness and handled that well. Sounds like a great book.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh please, I get just as irritated when I don’t get answers, especially when the mystery is FORCED, so I was happy that this one worked out well. Endings that feel right but are still shocking are definitely the best! And obviously I agree about the illness since this was exactly the kind of book I’ve been looking for 🙂

  2. Lola

    I like the cover for this book, I’ve seen it around on a few blogs recently as it was on a tour I think and the cover always caught my attention. With how it seems like a normal scene until that patch of cover that always seemed teared out and with the other girl standing there.

    I agree vague mysteriousness can be exciting and well mysterious, but it can also get frustrating and that’s annoying. is this book the reason you started inquiring about books with chronic ill characters? Just curious. It does sound like that aspect is handled well here and it sure happens rarely that you see those characters in YA books. I am usually not one to look up books with illnesses, as somehow thinking about things that happen inside bodies freaks me out and illnesses even more.
    But I like how you say it’s not about the illness, but about the character. I like it when the focus is on the character itself and they just happen to have an illness or something else. And it’s part of them, but not the only part that gets focus. I don’t like it when there’s too much focus on that aspect like it’s all there is, I quite prefer the more casual focus. And that’s great when it’s obvious the author did their research, it always makes the book or topic feel more realistic that way. And it does sound original. I am glad you enjoyed this book and I hope the next one is even better!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, I’ve seen it around a bit too on a blog tour, but I just got a regular review copy. I do love that cover though!

      This was actually just a lucky find that I stumbled onto after I started looking. I just think it would be great if there was more awareness and understanding of chronic illnesses, so I’d like to read and promote more books like this, ones that actually have a character doing stuff but also address the extra struggles. And especially since you know I like SFF, books that are JUST about illness are not ones I tend to be interested in, and they can be very depressing. Thanks, I am looking forward to the next one!

  3. Christy LoveOfBooks

    Nice! Yeah, that cover is cool and kind of gives off a creepy vibe. I’m not very familiar with CF either, but that’s what’s great about having characters like this – it helps educate. Sounds like a pretty good book.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Pretty and creepy all at once, kind of the best combo for a cover, right? And yes! That is definitely what’s great about a character like this, it helps spread awareness and understanding. It was a good book!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Haha it really is a great cover! And I think numerous other people have said it looks creepy too lol. I don’t quite know your taste yet, but I did enjoy it 🙂 Let me know what you think if you try it!

  4. Bookworm Brandee

    Well, you are correct in that you don’t see an illness like cystic fibrosis in fantasy often…or any genre, really. And I like that fact that the author made this a story about a character whose life is affected by an illness rather than a story about the illness. That’s fantastic and reason enough for me to check it out. But I’m also very curious about this mystery and how she ended up in the place. I’m glad you ended up enjoying the story even though it had all the vague paranormal stuff, Kristen!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I feel like you do sometimes see illnesses in contemporary, but almost never in fantasy. And the contemporary ones are always ABOUT illness and therefore just depressing. Plus I just like fantasy, so it’s nice to be able to read about this in the genre I like. Thanks! You’ll have to let me know what you think if you read it 🙂