Author: Chris Howard
Seventeen-year-old Banyan is a tree builder. Using scrap metal and salvaged junk, he creates forests for rich patrons who will pay to own a tree. The real trees were destroyed more than a century ago, but Banyan’s father used to tell him stories. That was before his father was taken. When Banyan meets a woman with a tattoo that is the clue to the whereabouts of the last trees on earth, he sets off across a wasteland from which few return. Banyan isn’t the only one after the trees, though – and he’s running out of time. He is forced to make an uneasy alliance with Alpha, a pirate girl with an agenda of her own. As they race towards a promise land that might be a myth, Banyan makes shocking discoveries about his family, his past, and how far people will go to bring back the trees.
I wasn’t super excited about reading Rootless, but when I found it at the library, I figured I’d try it. If nothing else, I usually enjoy post-apocalyptic stories.
Banyan was a rough kid with a rough life. He wasn’t educated, but he was good with his hands, and he had plenty of backbone – or stupidity, depending on how you look at it. He had a stubborn streak, and every once in a while a tendency to fixate on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. He’s the kind of person my parents would want me to avoid, but he’s exactly the kind of person who makes a great main character in a post-apocalyptic story.
Alpha was…something. She was a lot like Banyan in the tough and stubborn area. But other than that, and the punk side that made her fit in with the other pirates, I didn’t see what Banyan saw in her. She was different, I’ll give her that, but she wasn’t awesome.
One thing I noticed in retrospect is that Banyan is really the only developed character. Practically everyone except his father seemed flat, which is sad because the only way we get to know his father is through Banyan’s thoughts. Of course, this could have something to do with the fact that by the end, almost every other character was dead.
The post-apocalytpic world of Rootless was exactly what a post-apocalyptic world should be – a world I would really not like to live in. Nothing growing but corn, and that controlled by one company that charges exorbitant prices, flesh-eating locusts…it’s the kind of horrific world that I enjoy reading about, but would definitely not want to live in.
The plot was pretty well tied up in the world. Trees are alive somewhere, and people want to find them. Banyan’s father is probably with the trees, so Banyan wants to find them, too. And most of the plot is Banyan and his traveling companions trying to survive the world and figure out where the trees might be hiding. There were a couple massive twists at the end, too – and I didn’t see any of them coming, which was a plus.
One thing I definitely have to give Chris Howard credit for is Banyan’s voice. The book is in first person, and there were little stylistic details in the narration that weren’t hugely noticeable, but gave the impression of an uneducated kid with a rough life. Things like forgetting “It” at the beginning of a sentence, making some nouns singular when they should be plural, mild swear words that I didn’t mind because they fit so well – little details that gave Banyan an amazingly distinct voice.
Overall, while Rootless wasn’t a bad read, I didn’t fall in love it with. For the most part, I liked the story while I was reading it, but I definitely wouldn’t read it again.
I’m assuming there’s going to be another book – a note in the back said “End of Book One” – but I can’t find anything about it anywhere, not even a series name. So if there is a sequel to Rootless, I don’t think it’s coming out anytime soon. And anyway, I’m not sure I’m interested.