From School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-In a worst-case-scenario future, climate change has taken a harsh toll. The waters are rising violently, the land that is left is a dusty wasteland, and the only thing still growing is the all-powerful GenTech Corporation's bioengineered corn (aka "superfood"). Banyan, 17, is an artist, like his missing father, creating whole forests out of scrap metal, plastic, and electronic components for the wealthy. Chance meetings with some unusual people send him on a quest to find Zion, which might contain not only the last remaining trees on Earth, but possibly his father as well. What he eventually discovers is unexpected, to say the least. Themes of loss, redemption, and sacrifice are explored, along with some big questions about science and family and love. Banyan is a strong character with believable motivation and behavior. There's a lot of violence and misery, but also a surprisingly sweet romance between him and the almost suicidally daring pirate Alpha. Supporting characters are well done. Fans of the Mad Max movies, The Hunger Games, and other blood-pounding, life-or-death adventures will find much to like here, and will look forward to further installments.-Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
After a cataclysmic world event dwindled the world’s natural resources to almost nil, man-made trees have become merely art installations for the very rich. Banyan is one of the best tree builders around, though one would hardly know it from the way he is starved for food and work. But his latest project, constructing a tree based on a tattoo on a rich man’s wife, takes a turn when the woman’s daughter shows him a picture of a man tied to a real, living tree. More shocking than the tree is the man—it’s Banyan’s missing father. Banyan sets out on a journey fraught with dangers including pirates, flesh-eating locusts, and perhaps the biggest of big corporate baddies: GenTech, a company that manages the masses by controlling the limited food supply of “corn.” In his ambitious debut, Howard constructs a crumbling, brutal, ignorant, mystical, and barren world, and he gets his environmental message across clearly as he sets up the next book of Banyan’s continuing adventures. Grades 9-12. --Courtney Jones