Review: Trees, Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis

Trees, Vol. 1 (Trees #1- #8)Trees, Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley for a Free ARC of this.

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So this is a book I’d almost put into a category with East by West…it’s by a talented creator, and published by Image, and most importantly, I have absolutely no idea how to rate it! (I’m thinking about 3.5 stars would be acceptable)

Warren Ellis is a very very talented writer, able to evoke and communicate great passions, and this book is no different…the only issue is, I’m not quite sure what’s going on.

The “Trees” arrived from space 10 years ago, all over the world, and have just sat there, doing almost nothing at all, while life continues all over the Earth. However, recently, there’s been a discharge of toxic acid or something from the Trees of Rio, killing many.

The more I read this, the more interesting the trees became, but then I started to wonder if maybe the trees were just a gigantic MacGuffin? Thrown in to take our attention and make us focus on them instead of everything else? I mean they can’t be a total MacGuffin, because they do end up doing something, but is it nearly as important to the story as we might think? I’m not entirely sure.

To me, this seemed to become a story about humanity, our failures and triumphs all together. The artist community of China is a peak of the good things about acceptance and community, where people are allowed to be people…until they’re not.

The Italian community where the evils of Facism reign, of servitude and violence and intimidation…until they don’t.

The Norwegian Science Post where the thinkers and scientists examine the growth of what appear to be black poppies from around one of the trees growing in the midst of the Arctic Circle…but they’re not poppies…they’re something else. Even among the best minds, we see discord and anger flourish, mistrust, paranoia and jealousy even…

In Somalia, we see the leader of a nation who is wise, a world renowned economist who has done wonders with the aid given to his nation. This man follows the rules of numbers, until it becomes something that he uses to either ignore the human numbers or worse, justify the death soon to be dished out by his regime.

In NYC we see a city that has fallen apart, ruled by gangs, of whom the NYPD are simply another gang. One man wants to become Mayor, so that he can change things, and unite his city again.

The common thread is that each city under trees has fallen apart in some way, and someone wants to put it together, or solve it, or change the situation.

So have the trees really done nothing? Or have they actually gradually pushed certain people to throw off the status quo and remake things in another way? Or would this cycle have happened regardless of the presence of the trees?

Is Ellis telling us that he believes that we’re not intelligent life, and that we will stagnate until we do something about it? Or is he saying we won’t do anything about the situations until we get that little nudge or push to do so?

From what appears to be a very strange Sci-Fi Graphic Novel, what we really get is a philosophy paper presented in the form of an illustrated story. The beauty of that is, that each one of us can interpret it however we see fit. Until there’s a second volume, or until Mr. Ellis lifts the veil for us, that is.

Not conventional by any stretch, but I minored in Philosophy at school, so it’s fun to get into thought exercises like this.

I grant, this will NOT be for everyone, it’s got some action, for sure, but I think the greater purpose is to present us with some questions, or ideas to mull over. If you’re in the mood to be mentally engaged and challenged, by all means, give this a shot. If you’d rather just be entertained, maybe you might try something else.

Thanks again to NetGalley for the free digital ARC.


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