Rootless by Chris Howard (ARC provided by publisher)


There aren’t many living things in this new world that has gone dark. Among the surviving are humans who are waiting for the promised land, locusts who prey on the flesh of humans, and genetically engineered corn that provides both food and fuel. Trees have died out, books are rare remnants of the past, and seventeen year old Banyan’s father has gone missing.

For a year tree building Banyan has been trying desperately to piece the puzzle of his father disappearance, but he needs to survive in this cruel world. Needing both food and fuel Banyan takes a tree building job with a wealth drug addict, Frost. But this is no ordinary tree building job.

It’s there in Frost’s backyard that he begins to piece together the puzzle. Through Frost’s stepdaughter Zee, Banyan finds his father. In a picture, chained to a tree. Banyan’s father is alive and so are the trees!

In a race to end all races Banyan sets out to, not only find the one people who can answer all of his questions – his father – but to uncover the truth about the world in which he lives.

Is Banyan’s father still alive? And if so, will Banyan live long enough to find out?

Rootless, book one in a planned series, is author Chris Howard’s debut novel. Even though it’s action packed and full of unforseen twists and turns, Rootless falls flat somewhere along the way.

Howard’s writing is solid, but it is not the driving factor of the story. Told from main character Banyan’s perspective chunks of the text seem to come straight from his head. Readers will get to know who Banyan is as a character, but this style made the book feel clunky.
Banyan’s story relies heavily on the world in which he lives in. However, author Howard didn’t provide readers with the details of this world. At just over three hundred pages readers will expect answers to the burning questions which Howard presents: what actually made the world go dark? Without trees, where does oxygen come from? How do humans, animals, and the corn crops live and breathe?

Because Rootless is a planned series, readers that do stick with Banyan, will be looking forward to those answers.

What really drives this story forward, and what made me see the story through were the characters. Banyan is smart, resourceful, and above all things mature. So much so, that he didn’t feel like the average seventeen year old. Banyan is anything but average, he’s a strong survivor, who through this journey finds, not only an eclectic group of friends, but family who are just as strong as he is.

Howard’s Rootless was not my kind of book. I really appreciated the action, the solid writing, and the characters. But the lack of world building left too many questions unanswered and chunks of the plot up in the air.