Saturday, 17 November 2012

Rootless by Chris Howard

Published: November 1st 2012
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Series: (Nothing released yet...)
Website: Author Website

                Banyan is young, but he is an exceptional tree builder. In this future, there are no trees. The trees he makes are made from scrap metal, and he specializes in seasons. The rich pay him to make metal forests rigged with LED lights. The only plant that still grows is corn. The world has become barren dirt. Locusts devour anything that is editable. People are snatched regularly on the roads. Like his dad. When people are taken, you assume that they have died. Or worse. It’s best not to think of them anymore.
                One day he meets a woman who has a tattoo of a tree of her body. Her daughter, Zee, has an old camera with picture…of his father, chained to a tree. Surrounded by a forest of trees. Believing that this place, The Promised Land where plants can still grow, has his father, he gathers a ragamuffin team to make the journey. But there are others who wish to exploit The Promised Land, and the journey is nothing close to uneventful, especially considering that it is impossible to trust everyone you meet.

                Excellent use of action and dialogue. None of the dialogue struck me as boring or unnecessary. When people were speaking, it was for a reason. Authors sometimes forget that dialogue should be the brightest green light to advance plot. When Rootless characters are speaking, they are not wasting pages speaking about the weather. Everything pertains to the plot.
                This book is about travelling from one place to another, essentially. Travelling in general is dangerous, so nothing goes according to plan. There are dust storms, the shortage of food, water, and gas, slavers, thieves, pirates, an evil corporation...and the odd people Banyan keeps picking up in his vehicle.  

The book is full of colourful characters. Too bad I found it difficult to connect to most of them during the first half of the book. Even Banyan was a difficult character for me to get into. It’s not as though the protagonist is a bad person and we’re not supposed to like him. We’re supposed to like him, yet I could not care about him too easily. That said, there is a whole stock of interesting characters. Zee, the child who wants to find the trees. Her mother, a strung-out addict who knows something about the trees, but cannot remember. Zee’s step brother, Sal. Frost, who is also after the trees. Crow, Frost’s body guard who is more than just a body guard. My favourite character by far was Alpha, followed by Lockjaw. They’re pirates. Mostly morally good pirates. You can’t go wrong with pirates.
I found that Howard uses the words “suck(s)” and “sucker” a lot, especially towards the end of the book. That really stood out to me and I found it annoying.

                I think this book would make an awesome film. Most of it is action. Stuff exploding. Shooting. I imagine the setting would be a barren wasteland similar to The Book of Eli. The characters and the metal trees would look fantastic visually.

                What this book does exceptionally well is reaching a wide audience. It sports a male protagonist that guys will love, but he’s not such a male as to alienate all female readers. It is dystopian post-apocalyptic science fiction. There is some blood and violence, but surprisingly, it is not too bad, considering where I’ve been finding guts and gore lately in YA literature. No sex, minimal love story, but there is one.    

                An excellent sci-fi book for boys or girls interested in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world with an active storyline that just keeps going. This is book one, so it is great for teens who want to get into a series. The whole book isn’t just a cloak to write a romance story. It would make a great book club title.

1 comment:

  1. This is a fantastic book I have recommended it to many of my friends