Rootless by Chris Howard
Series: Rootless #1
Published by Scholastic
Publish Date: November 1, 2012
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)
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.
|LOOK AT IT.
(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.
Male Leading Characters
Fun, Colorful Characters
Rootless by Chris Howard
A couple of other things:
Listen to Chapter One HERE. (Rootless marks the first time I’ve EVER listened to part of a book as a sample. EVER.)
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: