Friday, February 1, 2013

Review: Rootless - Chris Howard

Rootless by Chris Howard
Series: Rootless #1
Genre: YA, futuristic
Published on November 1, 2012
Published by Scholastic
Pages: 336
Read From: 1.26.13 - 1.30.13

Seventeen-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 who 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 toward 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.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I don’t really care either way. It’s a relatively interesting cover, and I like the silhouette, and it looks futuristic. But I neither hate it nor am I especially attached to it. And the title makes a bit of sense, but not really.

Characters: Banyan, our protagonist, is such a guy. And not in a good way. He reeked of guy cologne (y’know - the type that guys swear attract girls, but in reality repel them; the type that sisters scream at their brothers for spraying about in the bathroom), Cheetos, and sweaty socks. Unsurprisingly, he had no real personality. For the record, I didn’t just hate Banyan, but I sure as heck didn’t care about him, either. Sal was just a creepy little slime-ball; I was looking forward to the moment when something bad happened to him. Alpha, the “pirate gal,” could have, I will admit, been so much worse. She didn’t wholly have The Attitude, and she could have. But like with Banyan, I just didn’t care. Zee was about the only character I kind of liked, but that was mostly out of desperation for someone to attach to. And she wasn’t, not surprisingly, in the story all that much. I couldn’t take Crow seriously because of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Sorry, but the name is just ruined for me now. I will forever see a little gold robot with a serious god complex.

The Romance: When Alpha showed up, I groaned very loudly. Especially when Alpha and Zee meet and their hair starts standing on end like cats. But the Author actually destroyed any possibility of a love triangle between Alpha, Banyan, and Zee (I won’t tell you how, but it worked), and for that I am eternally thankful. But the romance between Alpha and Banyan just didn’t work. For one thing, it was super rushed - and I mean super rushed. Banyan starts ogling Alpha’s thighs pretty much immediately (no joke), and Alpha tells him to sod off (yay), and then suddenly - and I mean suddenly - Alpha is all, “Oh, Banyan, kiss me!” Because you know, every girl wants to be kissed by a guy who hasn’t had a shower in forever, and who hasn’t brushed his teeth in forever, either. Not that Alpha’s hygiene is much better, but still.

Plot: Oh boy. I kind of had my doubts from the beginning, but I was willing to give it a try. Who knew - maybe it would surprise me. Well, it didn’t. The only thing that surprised me about it was the fact that it wasn’t nearly as preachy as I was expecting it to be, so thumbs up for that. But the plot is just silly. For one thing, it starts out feeling a lot like Waterworld (the movie) - only without the water. How? Well, in Waterworld these baddies, who reek to high heaven of axle grease and cigarette smoke, are after this girl, who has a tattoo on her that leads to the last bit of dry land in existence. In Rootless, the baddies already have the girl (or woman, rather), and she has a tattoo on her that leads to the last place in existence where trees grow. This ends up being a bit of red herring, but the similarity is certainly there, be it by chance or on purpose. But as the plot progresses, I began to miss this plotline, because it got just plain stupid. The “twist” in the end - [Spoiler] GenTech is turning people into trees that the locusts can’t eat [End spoiler] - doesn’t work. It feels like the Author put it in simply for shock factor; to turn it into one of those sci-fi thriller with genetic experiments. But it plain didn’t make sense. Why does certain human DNA keep locusts from eating the trees? Sorry, but I didn’t buy it. The Author also threw in Rastafarians, which was just totally strange. Out of all of the religious peoples to pick, why Rastafarians? Was he trying to be original? Because it came across as random and pointless to the story. How exactly the world came to be the way it is (high ocean levels, man-eating locusts) is not really explained, either. I got the impression that it was all linked to the locusts, but I didn’t understand how.

Believability: There are things about the Author’s world that didn’t work for me. First off, the flesh-eating locusts. I will grant that this is kind of a science fiction book, and impossible things happen in science fiction. So in the world of Rootless, the locusts have turned to eating people because they’ve eaten everything else. If it wasn’t for the fact that it felt like this was in the story purely for scariness factor, I might have been somewhat okay with it. But my real problem was with the corn. Yes, the corn. GenTech has genetically altered corn so the locusts can’t eat it, therefore corn is all people have to eat. But GenTech owns all corn production, and they won’t sell it to everyone (why they won’t, I don’t entirely understand, because they could, in fact, make bigger profit by selling corn to everyone, especially since their corn can’t be destroyed and therefore they can only gain profit, and not lose it). But, they don’t just use corn as food, but fuel as well. No. Just no. If corn is their only source of food - and the majority of the population can’t have it anyway - they would not be burning it as fuel. Also, why isn’t GenTech looking into ways to kill off the locusts? This, to me, seems like a much easier thing to do that finding ways to grow genetically-engineered food. There’s also an astounding lack of government. I don’t know if GenTech is the government (logically, they have to be, since laws cannot exist without one), or if they’re just a “big bad” corporation (which couldn’t exist without a government, either, actually). And then there’s the pirates . . . I’ll put it simply and sweetly: they’re all butch chicks, and Alpha - one of the pirate gals - wears a fluffy pink vest. Need I say anything more?

Writing Style: It was bad. Choppy, tons of short sentences, and so guyThe Maze Runner was a guy book - I’ll admit that. And I liked it. But there’s a difference between guy and guyThe Maze Runner didn’t reek of Axe and pizza and Cheese Whiz and dirty laundry. In short, it didn’t smell like a frat-house. This did. For once, the protagonist’s narration voice was too accurate. Due to the choppiness of the writing, I had the hardest time visualizing the Author’s world.

Content: 32 s-words. Some of the violence can get a little graphic.

Conclusion: Not nearly as exciting as I was expecting it to be. In fact, it was rather lame. The twist concerning Banyan’s parents and the trees seriously belonged in a bad 1970s sci-fi flick, and the graveness of the rebellion was lessened considerably by the fact that the people who were running away from GenTech hadn’t a stitch on. Now that made for some hilarious mental images. In short, this book was a waste of time. It was silly, it made positively no sense, and I have little doubt that the sequels will be any better.

Recommended Audience: Guy-read all the way, eighteen-and-older.

Others in This Series:
2)The Rift

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