Leaves of Fall by Patricia Lynne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
4.5 stars, because it's not like super *omg wow writing* but it has a lot of feels. I wavered between 4 and 5 and decided to let it stand with the .5.
Leaves of Fall is a beautiful and tragic, yet hopeful, story about the war between humans and trees. In this dystopian America, the trees have come awake and waged war against humans for all the crimes humanity has committed against trees and nature. Entire populations have been decimated and small human communities now band together for survival in cities, whilst nomads roam around, raiding and killing and raping. Everyone is suspicious of everyone else, even if they're also human.
When sixteen-year-old Armory is kidnapped by nomads, she's rescued by a tree nymph. With no other options, she has to trust the enemy of her people to bring her home safely. But Birch is an optimist. He doesn't just want to lead Armory home--he wants to find a way to make peace with humans and bring an end to the war.
My first thought upon reading the book was "oo Ents!" but then they were angry Ents, not like Treebeard who was still kindly towards hobbits and good people. Leaves of Fall is an easy read, told in the voice of the main protagonist, Armory. So you do have to suffer through some teenage angst, even though Armory is mostly trying too hard to stay alive to be too angsty.
Lynne put a lot of thought into her character development, and I found myself fascinated by Birch, this peace-loving, kindly tree nymph with a really dark past. I loved the way his back story is slowly revealed over the course of their journey, with each revelation causing Armory to have to stop and reevaluate their friendship. Does your past define your future? Is there true redemption for those who have done evil things in war? Yet the most important question is this: can you forgive and reconcile with those who have hurt you, who used to mean evil towards you, but who now seek forgiveness and want to change? Lynne explores this through the various reactions towards Birch throughout the whole book.
Minor complaints, which is me justifying the not-quite-5-stars:
- There's a little bit of resolution at the end that felt a little too simplistic. There was some set up for it in the earlier parts of the book, but I felt like it never quite followed through, and then it popped up right at the end so I wasn't quite convinced. Still, it's not a major part of the storyline, so eh.
- I wasn't quite convinced with the almost insta-love towards the end (not between Armory and Birch); it felt a little too convenient, but then they are teens and teens are teens so it's believable, even if this curmudgeonly reader didn't like it.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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