Review: Trees Vol. 1, by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard (graphic novel)

I got this graphic novel as an e-arc from NetGalley, so thanks a bunch, NetGalley, for offering us this work for free! I had an awesome time reading it and I must say I can’t wait for the following volumes to come out!

23518316Trees #1 is a sort of, kind of, post-apocalyptic story, where the apocalypse wasn’t like we know it to be, but somehow even scarier and weirder. Ten years prior to the events going on in the story, the Earth was invaded by some type of intelligence life (allegedly) in the form of really long pillars, similar to trees, which apparently stuck their roots randomly into the earth with no regard for the loss of human life, animal life, etc. Trees acted as if the planet was uninhabited, as if humans weren’t even there. And then they stayed quiet. Except for occasional discharges of an acid-like liquid, fatal to all forms of life. And ten years have passed since then, since the trees came and did nothing, just standing there, all quiet and alien and foreboding.

The story is told from multiple perspectives, from all over the world (a couple of example: Cefalu in Italy, Mogadishu in Somalia, Svalbard in Norway), and this is where things get really interesting. We have political conflicts, oh-so-typical to human beings, identity issues (transgender people, gay people), moral issues, and a lot more other aspects that need quite some time to figure out completely. I really liked this work because it touches upon so many subjects, even with (or should I say, because of) those alien trees present all over the world. It’s like the trees are influencing not only the atmosphere on Earth, but also its inhabitants, their personalities, their internal conflicts, everything. Hence the post-apocalyptic aura.

A couple of words on the characters. By far, my most favourite was Mash, a researcher working on a research station somewhere in Norway, in a freezing climate where nothing ever grows. There’s only them (him and his colleagues) and the polar bears. However (!), Mash makes a radical discovery and things take a really strange but intriguing turn, so I guess I’m excited to see what will happen in the following volumes, if Mash gets what he wants, if he becomes ill, or if he finds out a cure for ridding the world of the alien trees. Next up is Eligia and her gangster-ish life in Italy. I didn’t identify myself with her, not even by far, but I admired like hell her strength in the face of adversity and her desire to make a change. Especially her willingness to actually make it. The old professor helping her was also a very interesting character and I saluted his part in her evolution. I did not care much for Chenglei and his newly discovered love, who was a transgender female, but I liked the story between them, to some point.

What needs to be said, without further ado, is that this graphic novel keeps you on the edge of your seat, page by page. It’s not for kids (I’d say it’s more for 16+), it’s pretty graphic, but that’s exactly what I loved about it and what drew me to it. It’s raw and it “hurts” because it shows humanity in a not so pretty light. Instead of becoming united and getting back their cities, their homes, etc., people fight one another, become depraved and, what’s even sadder, they become uninterested in the trees. They act as if they’d been there forever, which is definitely not true. Quite the metaphor in Trees #1, if you ask me… Indifference goes a long way, and with the right kind of imagination, it becomes scary as hell.

Now for the thing that made me give it a 4.5 star rating instead of 5. I liked the artwork, I truly did, but there were portions where the characters did not keep their facial features. It was as if they were completely different characters… I like my books, graphic novels or not, to be consistent, and this was not an element of consistency. Sure, they were supposed to exhibit another emotion or feeling than before, like to pass from happiness to anger or from sadness to complacency, but this was not it. It felt wrong. Nevertheless, other than that, the first volume of Trees was really awesome and I’m so frigging glad I managed to read it free of charge. An electronic copy of it, but still… 😀

A small sample of the artwork
A small sample of the artwork

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