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Save the Trees, Save the World

A review of Chris Howard's The Rift, the second in the Rootless trilogy (and a middle book that doesn't suffer from Two Towers disorder).

Save the Trees, Save the World

BOOK REPORT for The Rift by Chris Howard

Cover Story: Deviant Art Blacklight Poster
BFF Charm: Sure, Why Not?
Swoonworthy Scale: An Angsty 3
Talky Talk: Still Intense
Bonus Factors: The Journey
Relationship Status: Are We There Yet?

Cover Story: Deviant Art Blacklight Poster

I really loved the cover for the first book in this series, Rootless, and I can see how the designer is trying to make this one have the same feel, but the colors end up making it look like one of those black felt color-it-yourself posters that come with a little pack of markers, or a Deviant Art wallpaper. The purple and green ARE essential to the story, so I'll let it slide and be glad I read the ebook.

The Deal:

This is book 2 in a series, so as usual, beyond here be spoilers for book 1

Tree-builder Banyan and his pirate girl Alpha have just made their escape from the evil GenTech corporation's secret island laboratory (think the Jamest Bond of all James Bond bad guy hideouts). They're on a stolen ship with stolen trees—the last seven trees in the entire world, that happen to be growing from the, erm, remains of Banyan's father. Zee and Crow—Banyan's half-sister and her erstwhile Rasta bodyguard, whose ruined legs were repaired by GenTech with tree grafts—are along for the ride. And the mutiny. Banyan and his band of misfits (all the above, plus Kade, who—like all the rest—may or may not be trustworthy), now have to get across the Rift, a giant expanse of lava, where the Earth's crust was ripped open a century before, keeping the trees safe from GenTech, ice, fire, thieves and maybe each other.

BFF Charm: Sure, Why Not?

Banyan is a grumpy motherfucker, and doesn't have a clue what he's doing. His one goal is to save the trees (Save the Trees, Save the World, if you will), but pesky human relationships keep getting in the way. It's hard to be an idealist, a loner and a decent human being, but he tries. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was my favorite of the books, because I genuinely enjoyed seeing Harry turn into an adolescent asshole, what with the stress of saving everyone from Voldemort again, fighting with his best friends, girl troubles and learning to keep his ego in check and trust other people to be as awesome as he thinks he is. Loads of people hated it for the same reason, as folks don't like flawed heroes. Banyan suffers a bit from HP5 syndrome, but it doesn't make him less interesting. He's like everyone in this series—ambiguous and unpredictable. So, rather human.

Swoonworthy Scale: An Angsty 3

It has to be tough to get swoony with a girl when half the time, you're just worried about her staying alive—even though you recognize she doesn't need your help and is better at staying alive and kicking ass than you are—and the other half of the time, you're feeling guilty because you picked the trees and fate of the entire human race over her. Banyan and Alpha have a sweet but fierce relationship, and yet it's still as awkward and hesitant as any inexperienced teenagers' relationship would be. The 3 isn't a diss; it's just swoon probably isn't the best description.

Talky Talk: Still Intense

Chris Howard keeps Banyan's voice uneducated and raw, although it feels like Banyan's language and ability to express himself is developing slowly, as his character does. So that's cool. The rough quality of the prose helps push the story along, and isn't so thick it's hard to read. There's a lot less environmentalizing going on in this book—the focus is more on The Quest than it is on The Evils of GenTech and the damage done to the world. I suppose it makes the book more accessible, and it is legitimately less a part of the story, so those of you who were upset about the aspersions cast on GMOs can rest easier.

Bonus Factor: The Journey

THE Journey, not Journey the band who is big again thanks to Glee and nostalgia. Like most middle-of-the-trilogy books go, this one serves to set up The Big Battle. Gathering forces and all that. The Journey itself had shades of everything from the death of Gandalf to The Land Before Time to A Wrinkle in Time without suffering from Two Towers complex—all good things, all good things.

Casting Call:

I cast Banyan back when I reviewed Rootless.

Halston Sage as Alpha

Oof. I can't even. Maybe this Halston Sage chick as Alpha?

Alan Tudyk as Kade

Thank you for books with ambiguously aged-probably grown up characters!

Relationship Status: Are We There Yet?

Like most middle books, I should really wait until both 2 AND 3 are out to read them. I'm so impatient. So are we there yet? I kept checking to see how much I had left—not because I was bored, but because I just wanted to know what was going to happen already.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from the author.  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!).The Rift is available now.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.