Review | Rootless by Chris Howard

Posted October 24, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 25 Comments

Rootless by Chris Howard
Series: Rootless #1
Published by Scholastic
Publish Date: November 1, 2012
336 Pages
Source:  Publisher 

17-year-old Banyan is a tree builder. Using scrap metal and salvaged junk, he creates forests for rich patrons who seek a reprieve from the desolate landscape. Although Banyan’s never seen a real tree—they were destroyed more than a century ago—his father used to tell him stories about the Old World. But that was before his father was taken . . .

Everything changes when Banyan meets a woman with a strange tattoo—a clue to the whereabouts of the last living trees on earth, and he sets off across a wasteland from which few return. Those who make it past the pirates and poachers can’t escape the locusts—the locusts that now feed on human flesh.

But Banyan isn’t the only one looking for the trees, and he’s running out of time. Unsure of whom to trust, he’s forced to make an uneasy alliance with Alpha, an alluring, dangerous pirate with an agenda of her own. As they race towards a promised land that might only be a myth, Banyan makes shocking discoveries about his family, his past, and how far people will go to bring back the trees. (summary excerpt from Goodreads)

Rootless by Chris Howard

My Thoughts:  Earlier this fall, I listed Rootless by Chris Howard as my most anticipated book to read this fall. I just finished reading it. YOU GUYS. I cannot stress to you exactly how ON THE MONEY I was in terms of making Rootless my most anticipated. Y’ALL. I’m not even being overly melodramatic. I’m completely being my real self right now. There is no blog post that is long enough for me to get how wordy I want to get. I will try and contain myself.

1. The Set-Up. Something like a hundred years ago or maybe a little more, The Darkness came. There was twenty years of night. After this, the sun came back, but the moon was all wonky and took up much more space in the sky (see there on the cover?). It made the ocean tides different and messed up all kinds of stuff on the earth. Now nothing is the same.

Locusts came and ate everything, including the trees and crops. Everything is dusty. The dust is in the air, in the sky, all over everything. It gets in eyes and mouths.

Because there are no trees, everything is made of metal. And plastic. Even the houses are made of metal. So we have towns that are devoid of trees, grass, crops, plants. They’re basically shantytowns. The only trees are the steel and plastic trees, and these are the trees that Banyan builds.

2. Characters. Banyan is a tree builder. He builds the best trees in the steel cities. He builds these forests out of scrap metal, plastic, and lights. He loves making these fake forests look like they are changing seasons. He wants them to look believable, like trees really used to look… Banyan is young and alone since his father is gone, struggling to survive. He gets a job working for Frost, who is a very bad man – quite the opposite of Banyan, actually.

Frost has some people living in his house, interesting people: a wife, her daughter, his son. There are other characters, including a beautiful pirate girl called Alpha. Pirates! All of the characters are important to the development of the story and very interesting. I enjoyed reading even the bad guys.

3. The Quest. Banyan learns information from the people living with the bad guy, Frost. Some of this information includes possible clues to the location of the last real, live trees in the world. When Banyan sees a picture with even more information in it, he becomes hungry, thirsty, ill with need to get to this place. It’s quite possible that the place with the trees holds something else very important to Banyan as well, and he intends on seeking it out at all costs…

I LOVE A QUEST IN A STORY. Because if it is a good one, THINGS happen. And oh my stars! do things happen on this journey, you guys.

4. The Forty.’ The forty is the only real road west. In lots of places, it is still solid and sticky in the heat – but not everywhere. Mostly, it’s just dusty. The dust is so thick it covers your windshield and slows you down. This is particularly dangerous when there are dangers out there like pirates and locusts and poachers.

I love that The Forty is written into the story – like America’s Interstate-40, I can only presume, which I’m actually basically sitting beside. I get very nerdy over things like the fact that Banyan and I travel the same roads, you guys. I am not joking. 

5. Pirates. Yes, there are Pirates in this story. They’re girl pirates. They are tough. They are awesome. They live in the Old Orleans area. They wear tall rubber boots (because of the swampy area of Orleans, which was completely new to Banyan) and they wear weapons. They completely freak Banyan out and hold him prisoner at first – when they realize he is a tree builder, they commission him for a job…

(I love the beautiful and dangerous pirate. The one they call Alpha. A lot.)

6. GenTech. One of the bad guys in the story that isn’t actually a person: GenTech is a corporation that is monopolizing the food industry in this starving, dusty, and desolate world. After the locusts, pretty much nothing will grow. GenTech finds a way to make one particular kind of corn grow that the locusts cannot eat. The problem is that they ration it for unreasonably high prices and won’t allow anyone else to grow it. If they find any ‘bootleggers’ growing it, they kill them. The GenTech cornfields are a huge chunk of the landscape, which stand between the steel cities – where Banyan and Frost live – and the supposed location of the last remaining trees. This means Banyan and his group need to cross thru the corn fields. Crossing thru these fields means potential battles with the deadly, man-eating locusts. And the GenTech staff. And poachers. And whatever else may be hiding out there.


I could go on and on talking about Rootless by Chris Howard. I loved every detail. And all of the details fit together somehow, even when I didn’t realize they would. I was absolutely amazed at how intricate and complex the plot was, and yet it stayed adventurous and fun and action-packed and awesome at the same time. 

(In case you don’t want to
scroll up to look, here ya go.)

Okay, so you guys know that I am a cover girl, and I was completely mesmerized by this cover when I saw it for the first time. LOOK AT IT. And then the summary hooked me. Then, I saw someone tweet about how cool Chris Howard’s interactive website is, so I went to it. I ended up playing around on it for a couple of hours. Once again, I’m not joking. See, there are seven clues hidden on the website. When you find them, you uncover these details about the book. So I sat and looked and played for quite a long time. The cover looks great, the summary is great, the website is cool – so the book must be great too, right?

Y’all, I sat down to read the book and fell immediately into Banyan’s world. Dusty and metallic. I could almost taste dust in my mouth and was practically wiping it out of my eyes. I loved it. Not too far into the book – when Banyan saw the picture I mention up above – I had the death-grip on my Kindle and began with the holding-of-my-breath. It was completely exhausting and awesome. Once Banyan left to search for the trees, I could barely move. I kept shifting positions to read. I couldn’t recline – I had to sit straight up, still clutching the Kindle with the white-knuckled death-grip.

What I’m trying to say is this: I had a really good time reading this book. Rootless is an adventure story with some crazy twists. A lot of twists, actually. Tons of action. A great male leading character. A mean bad guy and a bad corporation. Locusts, pirates, poachers, stuff like that. People chasing people. A big moon that made the ocean wild and crazy. Some weapons, some fighting, and some people die for their causes. There is a lot of hope and there is a little bit of romance. 

The world-building is great. The language and imagery are vivid and so easy to visualize. I practically watched a movie of this book in my head while I read it. The characters are colorful. The plot – just, wow. The plot is fast-paced and action-packed. There are even what I call “important things” or social and environmental issues tucked away inside of all of the fun of this book, but it was never too heavy for me.

I want everyone I know to read this book so we can talk about it. I want all of you that I don’t know to read this book and then talk to me about it. Then tell other people about it. I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever for this story, and I’m so happy it delivered. Rootless by Chris Howard is a strong start, a great start, a fun start to what I expect will be an awesome trilogy. I recommend Rootless for fans of adventure stories, dystopian stories, and YA male leads. And everyone else too.


Rootless will appeal to fans of:

Male Leading Characters
Great World-Building
Awesome Plot – Action Everywhere
Fun, Colorful Characters


Rootless by Chris Howard
will be available for purchase on November 1, 2012.

**I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you Scholastic and NetGalley!


A couple of other things: 

1. For my audiobook loving friends: the audiobook edition of Rootless is being read by Nick Podehl. Which means I’m doing an audiobook re-read ASAP. WAY TO GO Scholastic and Chris Howard for getting my favorite reader for your audio! 

Listen to Chapter One HERE. (Rootless marks the first time I’ve EVER listened to part of a book as a sample. EVER.)

2. Chris Howard is interactive! We love that, don’t we? 

3. Would it be completely weird for me to admit to you that I read this entire book with this accent in my head? (See this short video below. Seriously, watch it. It’s only 1:40.) That accent, Rootless. It’s how I read it. 



Is ROOTLESS on your wish-list?
Cause it should be.

Find Rootless and The Rift: 


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


25 responses to “Review | Rootless by Chris Howard

  1. I actually just stumbled across this book like on Monday…and the cover totally caught my eye. I think it's really cool that it's an actual scene in the book. I love when they do that!

    I must admit that you've made it sound really exciting! And I want to read it more now because of this review than before when I just loved the cover. 😀

    • I know, I'm in the middle of a ton of series too! But I COULD NOT pass this one up. I spent so much time amping myself up for it, and it totally paid off and then some. I absolutely ate this story up. I loved it and I want other people to love it too.

    • I loved it! It got me out of my slump and had me GLUED to the story. It was wildly imaginative and the ending was crazy-good – I would have NEVER been able to guess ANY part of this story. No cliffhanger, but I'm still eager for the next part of the story. Loved it. One of my favorites this year by a long shot.

  2. Wow! A quest, action and adventure, kick ass female pirates, hold up…did you say PIRATES? Excuse me for a minute because I have to go request this on NG immediately:)

    This sounds a bit like Railsea and Ship Breaker, and you know I loved those two books! I love that you got all white knuckled excited and passionate about this book, and that you get all wordy in your review, AND you played on it's cool interactive website (those are so freaking cool and such a treat for readers and fans!) I'm definitely going to read this because I want to gab with you about it, Asheley:)

    Btw: I see you are reading Lovely, Dark and Deep! GAH! I LOVE that title. Hope it's good and I can't wait for your thoughts!

    • Heather, no joke, when I was reading this, I thought about you. Particularly when I got to the part about the pirates.

      The adventure was non-stop, and it made me think of how much we both enjoyed Railsea, even though the story isn't like Railsea. And that one had pirates in it, too!

      The website is the coolest author/book website I've ever been on, period. Hats off to the person/people that designed it for Chris Howard, or to Chris if he did it himself. The seven hidden clues are so much fun to look for and some of the info in the clues isn't in the first book, so I liked knowing it going into the story.

      I hope NG approves you asap. And I hope you get all white-knuckled too. There was actually one point at somewhere around 82%-ish where I had to MAKE myself put the Kindle down and walk around because I was breathing crazy and my hands were tired. THOSE ARE THE BEST BOOKS. Plus, NOTHING on my to-do list got done. Not one thing. How awesome is that? (Kind of. Well, you know what I mean.)

      Sidenote: I'm loving Lovely, Dark and Deep. The language is poetic and so very beautiful. I can't wait to write about it.

  3. Wow, I just love how enthusiastic you are about this book! Like seriously. From the blurb alone this does not sound like the type of book that would really interest me, but I found my interest growing and growing as I read your review. It sounds like such a crazy, creative premise! This is one of those times when I'm like "how in the world does an author come up with something like that??" haha

    • Rootless DOES have a crazy and creative premise. It is EXACTLY a "how-in-the-world-does-this-author-come-up-with-this?" book, and it was a thrill ride.

      White-knuckled death-grip books are the best ones. The summary is good, but the book is beyond the summary. Loved it.

  4. I love when it is clear how much you LOVED a book. And that you are so spot on about what kind of books you will like. This was sounds like SO MUCH FUN! I love that you could sense the setting, and the female pirates, and Banyan being so desperate to see a real tree. Another fantastic review – and I'm so thrilled that it brought you out of your two book slump 😉

    • Lauren, I am crazy about this book. It was ridiculous the way I read this one. I couldn't move, I couldn't exhale, I couldn't DO anything. I MADE myself get up at one point and walk around because I was breathing all funny and panicky, and I needed to get a grip on reality. But when I got up to walk, I carried my Kindle with me, and then I laughed at myself.

      Alpha the pirate is awesome. All of the female pirates are awesome. Banyan's desperation to see the trees is awesome. He is such a good, well-thought, non-stupid character – a great male YA character. He doesn't fit that 'stereotypical' YA male mold that we talk about sometimes – he really stands out. He's strong at the beginning of the book, and he finishes stronger. He's great. ALL of the characters are great and colorful and awesome. Their language is like it would probably be in this situation, the book was sensory with the dust and metallic feel…and I'm gonna stop here because I'm writing my blog post all over again.

      Seriously, I loved this one. I'll be listening to it asap. I want an actual physical copy of this book in my hands.

      And I totally understood everything you said. HA!

  5. Oooh, can't wait for this! I lovelovelove some awesome worldbuilding. The pirate chicks sound badass. I really need to read more books with male protagonists because when I do I really enjoy them. Okay, that's more than enough reason for me to bite my nails waiting another week for its release and then trying to hide my must-make purchase from the hubby. Great review, Asheley! You totally sold me on it!

    • I loved it! The pirates are awesome, but really there wasn't anything at all about this book that I didn't like. Even the ending…I really want to read the next part but since it wasn't a bad cliffhanger, I can just hang onto what I have and love the story over and over until the next part comes out. What I mean is that I'm patient enough with a great story and how it is to sit on it until book two is released, which is HUGE for me. I'm just amazed at it. Great worlds and characters, even a great YA male character. Everything. Love it.

  6. This cover is amazing, and this story sounds FABULOUS. I'm so excited to read it after seeing your thoughts, and I certainly believe I'm going to enjoy it as much as you did!

    • YES, this cover! Everything all of the creative teams that have worked on this project have touched have been colorful and lovely and eye-catching. The book cover, the website, the marketing with the bookmarks and the t-shirts, everything. The story is FUN as HECK, absolutely FABULOUS, and I really think this is one that you will love, Alexa! I want to know how you like it when you read it because it seems like an Alexa book!

  7. *places knife on wrist and looks up* …What? Oh, this. *looks down* I'm about to end my life BECAUSE I DID NOT REQUEST THIS BOOK. I totes thought this book was gonna be crap and IGNORED IT. And now I feel like an idiot. And I can't stand idiocy, even in myself. So the following actions must be taken. Please excuse me. *continues*

  8. Ah!!! Your intense enthusiasm for this one is positively catching. I was interested in it before, it sounded intriguing and the cover IS awesome, but now? Now I MUST READ. I love a good quest story, and even though I'm getting burnt out on post-apocalyptic stuff, this sounds really unique and interesting. Plus I just fell in love with Ananna from The Assassin's Curse, so I'm all about the female pirates atm. So…reading slump over I presume? *throws confetti*

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