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2.9 out of 5 stars
2.9 out of 5 stars
The Republic of Trees
Format: Paperback|Change
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on 15 March 2006
Amazed to see such poor reviews below. I thought this was a wonderful debut - the opening chapters resonant with longing for the long days of childhood. Taylor is pitch perfect in tackling the emergent sexuality of his characters, and the prose is as cool as a walk through a shaded forest on a hot summer's day. Then the tone darkens and the book moves compellingly towards a stunning, and horrific ending. Highly recommended - a great read.
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on 24 November 2007
This is a dark tale about 4 teens, from 2 families, who live in France. They run away together to a forest in order to set up their own utopian community, which they name The Republic of Trees. Their bible is The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Their life becomes filled with days hunting for food; tree climbing, swimming, map making, gardening and creating rules for their community to live by. All seemed to be going well, until a 5th person turns up, another girl, and then things start to turn awry, with sexual tensions, sibling jealousy and finally a power struggle begins. Events take a turn for the worse when they have to start making raids on other dwellings to stock up on essentials that are running low, and gradually they seem to lose their sanity and their ways of thinking become warped. From then on, with the introduction of a guillotine that the children build, their story loses its dreamlike quality of a heavenly existence and instead takes on a nightmare feel. The ending is an extremely shocking and gruesome one, which will leave you gasping with horror.

In all, I found this a disturbing but compelling read and was gripped by every page. It has comparisons with Animal Farm, 1984, Lord of the Flies and even Peter Pan, yet is unique in it own way.
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on 11 October 2009
After reading the Republic of Trees I was left feeling empty and cold.
I enjoyed the initial interaction between Taylor's characters, but found that at the end of the book many mysteries were left unanswered and felt no real affinity for any of the main players.
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on 2 April 2006
If you're a fan of reality TV and interested in the consequences of taking reasonable, functioning human beings out of everyday society and placing them in a set without time, the propaganda of the media and everyday things like a well-stocked fridge, then Sam Taylor's debut novel should stroke your cerebral cylinders pretty comfortably.

The start of The Republic of Trees' tells the reader about Micheal, Louis, Isobel and Alex and the functions they each serve as they strive to accomplish their own society within a French forest. Between the hunting, tree-climbing, swimming and sunbathing and self-inflatory talks of their revolutionary escape from the normal world, there's also a bit of sex as Micheal and Isobel's previously platonic relationship escalates into the abandoning of their virginities.Micheal declares his love for Isobel, Isobel says she loves him back but, as reader, you get the feeling she doesn't really. From hereon it is apparent that trouble is happily playing just around the corner, especially when intelligent but ugly Joy suddenly appears from between the trees.

Joy is everyone's friend: confidante to Isobel, jovial comrade to the charismatic Louis, imaginary huntress during animated tales of Wild Boar chasing from Alex and secret admirer to Micheal. With Joy's healthy intellect and love for The Social Contract an even keener keenness to affirm a solid identity for the society is born. But when the Republic is validated with rules and strict roles for each citizen, a heavy air of volatility hangs above the group. This, timed simultaneously with the revelation that Isobel and Louis have been sharing secret liaisons amidst the leafy jungle and behind Micheal's back, creates a great opportunity for Joy to manipulate her relationships with her fellow 'citizens' so the balance of power tips in favour of her and her idol, Micheal, and the opportunity for vengeance arises...

The Republic of Trees is a slow burner but definitely worth it. Taking you through page after page of short sentenced, compact prose, Sam Taylor uses philosophy and theories on social structure to build a tension which is more than satisfied by the story's ending. I recommend this book to anyone who has the patience to withstand narrative flaws (Joy's sudden appearance - where did she come from?; the mysterious, pungent-smelling hole...) for the benefit of reading a novel that's a) so convincing that you actually feel the emotions of the Protagonist and b) so intensely dark that you'll probably be thinking about it for days afterwards.
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VINE VOICEon 5 May 2005
I bought The REpublic of Trees on the basis that it sounded like a good read - its plot, according to the blurb, wsa reminiscent of The Wasp Factory, After the Hole, and other tales of twisted teenagers.
Sadly, Sam Taylor just doesn't pull it off. It is screamingly obvious that this is a first novel, and at times his prose his painfully mundane. His attempts to create tension rely too much on cliche, and as such the whole thing falls flat. I just didn't believe in this at all.
Not worth your time quite frankly.
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on 17 March 2006
In addition to the comparison's with "Lord of the Flies", there are also great similarities to George Orwell's "1984" (the development of a plagarised "newspeak", for example), and "Animal Farm" (all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others). Treble your reading pleasure by ignoring this book, and reading "1984", "Animal Farm" and "Lord of the Flies" instead.
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on 8 January 2006
A ham-fisted cross between William Golding and George Orwell with a passing nod towards Enid Blyton. This, for me, was neither bold nor beautiful and certainly not innovative - merely derivative and often ungrammatical (bored OF at least three times?).
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on 17 March 2006
The word above is the only word I can use to describe the way I felt when reading the latter half of this book. The beginning, although a little too sexy for what I thought it was, really got me involved in the story. It was almost as if I could feel the warmth of the sunlight through the trees. Then it felt a bit lost. There was no real explanation of where Joy had come from. I realise that you have your own imagination..blah..blah...blah, but there was so much detail about the others that it just feels inconsistant. Also what was with the stinky hole? I kept thinking towards the end that it was all some trippy illusion bought on by too much home made wine on Micheals behalf, and then it just ended....How disapointing.
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VINE VOICEon 4 March 2006
I appreciated, at least for a while, the mood, the depiction of the children, the trees. This is a story shorn of all details, stripped bare like an allegory or a metaphor, but it quickly peters out into a rather silly, poorly crafted tale of betrayel and extreme political correctness. If the author wanted the model Republic to impress on our minds more seriously, he might have worked harder on it, wedding the mood to something substantive. This is no Lord of the Flies, nor is it The Cement Garden, it is a sort of cheap imitation, even the apparant `twist; is contrived, fake. I was sorry to find it left almost no impression in my mind at all except a vague resentment at having bought it in the first place.
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