Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)
Imagine a world long after humanity has been eradicated, replaced by another group more in tune with nature than their ancestors, with little technology, resorting to the resources in their home. In Chlorophyll and Gasoline, this is exactly the world you are introduced to through the point-of-view of Willow, a young Gaian with the task of exploring the undergrowth. But, while accustomed to finding mushrooms and other goods for her home, she comes across a unique find – an individual made of metal, who when awoken from a deep slumber resembles a Gaian…but isn’t one.
In this short novella reminiscent of a Pixar-like short, Willow befriends an “iron-one” named Suzy, who after awakening long past humanity’s destruction. The Gaians are wary of the “iron-one” though, and it’s Willow’s job to prove her new friend is safe.
With a friendship budding into deeply woven affection, the base story is a wonderful and almost peaceful tale of a newcomer adapting to its new home. That being said, it does lack some of the character development to really stick the tale home. Some of this could merely be due to the short nature of this story.
Willow is a rather bland protagonist on the front, reacting to most situations than being proactive. Meanwhile Suzy, while lovable, has never been given firm characterization. She fluctuates between being overly robotic to almost human and back again. Some of the development of their relationship moved oddly, without showing a more human (or, erm, Gaian) side of Suzy. It would have been beneficial seeing their friendship bloom a bit more, rather than Willow’s back and forth to the Stamen.
That being said, the author did a wonderful job showing Willow’s slow internal conflict over falling in love with Suzy. It was never what she was that caused Willow to hesitate, but her own uncertainty. And that in itself was beautiful.
This world that SJ Flemings created has a lot of potential, and it feels like it belongs right in the heart of an animated film. That in itself is a pure compliment.
So go read this book for the beautiful world, the soft W|W romance, and for a pleasurable ending that will leave you smiling.
What’s it about?
Willow is a curious young woman who lives in the Yggdrasil, a city-sized tree host to dozens of villages eking out a living in the post-collapse world. On occasion, she plunges down into the dark and unmapped roots of Yggdrasil, trying to find rare plants or technological relics from the past. On a sortie to a new location, Willow finds a strange living statue that calls itself Suzy. In speaking to this statue, Willow starts to feel compelled towards helping this lost soul. However, before she can help Suzy, she must deal with the pushback at home, as not everyone believes Suzy to be the same kind person that Willow does