- The plot twists and suspense. One thing that Howard does very well and part of what made this book so great was the number of plot twists (especially near the end of the book). Leading up to the twists, Howard artfully adds layer after layer of obstacles, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat pretty much non-stop.
- The trees. I loved the idea that product of the environmental neglect (i.e. the trash) is the very medium through which Banyan is able to reintroduce greenery back into the world. This was brilliant and felt very tongue-in-cheek.
- Banyan's voice. When I first started the book, I wasn't sure I liked the way it was written so informally through the voice of Banyan, but over time the style grew on me and I came to love it. It feels more like he is sitting in front of you telling a story than you're alone reading his narrative. I also appreciated that Banyan cussed quite a bit--he's a teenager, that's what teenagers do.
- The death of main characters. I always applaud authors who aren't afraid to get you attached to a character and then kill them off. It's much more realistic. Given the situation and the world Banyan lives in, there is a very high chance he will lose people he loves along his journey, and Howard stays true to that aspect of the world he has created.
- Alpha. I loved the image of a girl pirate with a mohawk in a pink fuzzy vest bossing people around. All the characters in this book were interesting, but Alpha was by far one of my favorites.
- The VERY slow beginning. It takes about 50 pages for the story to really pick up. I almost returned this one to the library before I hit that point, but I am so glad I didn't give up!
- The violence. The violence in this novel and the huge focus on death might not be for everyone. I know it caught me a little off guard at first. But really when you think about it, Banyan is living in a post-apocalyptic world filled with man-eating locusts--there's going to be a good amount of death in his life.
"I just stared back at my wagon, and for some reason, the worst of it was that hatch left hanging wide open, the car filling up with sand. Like the wagon had rolled its last mile and the world was telling me that nothing lasts forever.
Nothing, Banyan. Least of all you."
This book was so different from anything I've read before and I really loved the environmental, cautionary, conspiracy feel of it all. Definitely picking up the next book in the series when it comes out.