I’ve decided to create this new blog post featuring the runner-up to my Book of the Month. I won’t be doing this on a monthly basis, just on the months when I’ve chosen a winner, but can feel the pull of another book that deserves recognition. In this case, it is The Tree of Rebels, by Chantelle Atkins 🙂 I started August by reading this book, and a month on I still think about this story and the world within it ❤
It’s interesting how in August I read two books in entirely different genres that both had a focus on apple trees and how wonderful and full of wisdom grandmas are. Not just that, but they were my only 5 star reads in August too. When it Rains, by Brooke Harris won my Book of the Month. You can read my 5 star review here.
‘There will always be those who say no, Lissie. There will always be those who do not believe what they are told. There will always be those who rebel.’
It’s 2145. 13-year-old Lissie Turner lives in the peaceful community of Province 5. Everyone is provided for and everyone is grateful. Everyone obeys the rules.
Lissie has never questioned her society until she falls into a daydream and wanders beyond the fence that keeps them safe. She finds an apple tree which changes her life and threatens to blow her world apart. Growing food has been forbidden since the last war ended 70 years ago. All food is raised under the Domes.
With the discovery of the tree, Lissie finds herself breaking the rules. And if she believes what her dying Great-Grandmother has been trying to tell her, she must question everything she has ever been told. Who really started the Endless War? And it is really over? As she uncovers the shocking truth, Lissie must choose between conformity and rebellion, between living a lie and tearing her peaceful community apart…
A YA dystopian adventure set in a future disconnected from nature.
To see my full review with lots of added photos click here 🙂
The Tree of Rebels is an emotional and thought provoking young adult dystopian novel filled with great characters (including a cute dog) and believable scenarios. I found myself completely gripped by this story, eager to find out what happens next, while also nervous about what was to come. There is no doubt that I was completely emotionally invested in this story. It was as if it swallowed me up into its own world for a few days, as I found myself thinking about it throughout the day and even shed a tear or two while reading it.
I adore the book cover and think it suits the story really well. The apple tree in this story made me think of my childhood. Each time my parents had a baby they planted a fruit tree in the garden. Mine was the first to be planted and was an eating apple tree, which sadly died some years later, and is something I never fully recovered from. I can still picture it in my mind and miss that it is no longer there. My next sister had a cooking apple tree planted for her and we still all get to enjoy yummy apple sauce and apple crumble from those apples over thirty years later. I love it when my parents visit me in Cornwall all the way from Yorkshire and bring me a bag of their cooking apples to stew. My youngest sister had a small orchard of five trees planted for her (probably in case one of the trees died like mine). I remember there were plums and pears, and possibly a cherry tree. They had a mixture of success over the years, but some of those trees are no longer alive.
Being reminded of our childhood fruit trees made me realise how I was introduced to the beauty and magic of nature from such an early age. My dad has grown his own vegetables throughout my whole life, and I have gone on to do the same. My mum loves plants and flowers, and is regularly pottering in the garden. Something I also try to do as often as possible. My mum feeds the birds and squirrels, and they even have an escaped peacock that has visited their garden daily for years, and sleeps in a tree at the end of one of their neighbours gardens.
I love nature and find gardening and country walks very therapeutic. I’m a tree hugging, veg growing, flower sniffing, bee loving, birdwatching kind of a girl, and I struggle to imagine an existence without the beauty of nature around me. This book definitely makes you think about the nature that surrounds us, that many of us probably take for granted.
I also love the quotes at the very beginning of the story:
‘They tried to bury us… They didn’t know we were seeds…’ (Mexican Proverb)
‘Until they become conscious they will never rebel.’ (George Orwell)
I’m a very curious soul, so I found myself relating to Lissie and her challenging thoughts and adventurous actions. I loved the close relationship she had with her great grandma, as I loved my great grandma who lived until almost 98 years old. My Otley Grandma (her daughter) lived until 90 years old and would always tell me stories of her past and adventures she went on. She would tell me about starting work at 13 years old, and the really long and awful boat trip with my 2 year old dad to go and see my grandad who was stationed in Singapore with the military. I could sit for hours listening to her stories of the years gone by. This book made me wonder what my grandma wrote in her diaries.
The thing about The Tree of Rebels that was somewhat disturbing was that I can see it happening. In fact, some aspects of the story are already happening. Overuse of oil and plastics. Our obsession with the internet and technology. Violence and the dark side of human nature that has a need for control and a desire to instil fear in others. The provinces made me think of North Korea, while the domes made me think of The Eden Project, which I love.
This story really made me question the world we live in, the decisions we make and the knock-on effect of our actions. Despite this, I still felt myself torn between decisions. There was a part of me wondering if the grass is greener on the other side, while another part of me appreciated the meaning of the term ‘ignorance is bliss’. All may not be what it seems, but does that matter if we appear happy? Do we always have to have answers for everything? What I thought I wanted for myself and Lissie changed a couple of times throughout the story. The song that most suits this book has to be ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’, by The Clash, especially as I found myself singing it more than once while reading this book:
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go, there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double…
The Tree of Rebels is yet another book that has made me feel so grateful to have discovered this talented author. I can’t wait to read more by this author, and highly recommend this book to those of you who enjoy YA, dystopian, great characters and thought provoking stories.
Where to find this book: