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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

ARC Review: The Tree by Na'Amen Gobert Tilahun

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1597808903/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=onderherose-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=1597808903&linkId=d6cb0e05d4cc8dab690020d886058182
Please Note:  I received an advance copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.  Also, I am in the Amazon Affiliate program.  If you buy the book from the links on this page, I will get a small fee. This is a great way to support this blog (hint, hint).

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
In Corpiliu, an alternate dimension to our own, a darkness grows, devouring whole cities as it spreads. Robbed of her greatest power, separated from her siblings and thrown among people she does not trust, Lil, a ’dant from the city Zebub, must find a way to turn everything around, to trust in a power she knows nothing about.

Erik travels from San Francisco to Zebub, haunted by the ghost of his ex, still coming to terms with his true identity as a descendant of the gods, and unsure how to fight what seems to have no weakness. Pushing back against taboos meant to keep the true history of Corpiliu secret, he gains many enemies and few allies, and strange visions will make him question his own sanity.

Between Earth and Corpiliu, a war is developing on two fronts, one that might well mean the end of both dimensions. In The Tree, the dynamic follow-up to the exciting fantasy debut The Root, long-held secrets will be revealed, and long-trusted loyalties will be put to the test.


Review:
Ever since I met him at the Bay Area Book Festival, I have been a huge fan of this author, Na'amen Gobert Tilahun.  His books are  filled with so much creativity, diversity, and heart, that I am instantly drawn it.   The Tree is the next book in the complicated world that The Root introduced us to.   With it's dual settings of the San Francisco Bay area, and the city of Corpiliu on the world of Zebub, Na'amen manages to create characters in both worlds who were confused, complex, and ultimately courageous.  I was deeply invested in these characters and in this highly entertaining book.


What I Liked:
Settings:
It takes a great deal of effort to convincingly create one world, let alone two.  But the author achieves this by lots of wonderful details about each place. I can well imagine the characters careening through the streets of San Francisco rescuing civilians.  In Zebub, from the Forest to the living hive of Kandake, I felt immersed in these places. 

Characters: 
I really liked the characters from both worlds, particularly Erik from San Francisco, and Lil from Corpiliu.  Erik is still dealing with the death of his boyfriend, Daniel, while Lil is learning how to cope with the loss of her voice.  Each have lost their self-confidence and must find a way to get it back if they can ever hope to face the coming battle.

I also loved Melinda, the child with the ability to control dreams, and even the evil Holder Mayer who is corrupted with power and will do whatever it takes to maintain it. 

Diversity:
As with the first book, The Tree had a diverse cast of characters.  I loved the author showing all the various people with different sexualities, genders (and pronouns), family groups, ethnicities, and body types.  But this was not an exercise in checking diversity boxes.  These were well-rounded characters who each had distinct personalities, strengths and weaknesses.

Action:
The story is peppered with chases, epic battles, and escapes, creating a fast-paced story.  I like that these scenes do not always end up with the "good guys" triumphing, or coming out unscathed.  That would be boring as Hell!  Instead I really didn't know if favorite characters would live or die (or be horribly maimed).  
                        
via GIPHY

Story Arcs: 
The two anchors of the story, Erik from San Francisco, and Lil from Corpiliu, both have similar story lines.  Each must deal with anger, guilt, fear and regret in order to reach their power and full potentials.  But each one has different obstacles to overcome.  I found their stories very compelling.

I also enjoyed the dynamic between Hettie and her daughter, Dayida, two strong women who have enormous resentments and regrets.  Eventually, each begrudgingly begins to appreciate the other.  I liked that they did not break down into emotional puddles, but rather came to a mutual respect of each other.


What I Didn't Like:
Confusion:
As with the first book, I found some of the names and organizations so similar as to be confusing.  There is Reina in the San Francisco part of the story, and Riana and in the world of Zebub.  And my poor little mind kept mixing up the intentions of The Agency versus The Organization.   

                  
via GIPHY

Having said that, I can see that there was intention behind all of this.  San Francisco and Zebub are supposed to be mirror images of each other, after all.  And most big bureaucracy's missions blur with corruption, after they reach a certain size.   But, I still firmly wish there was a glossary of terms and names at the end of each book that I could reference.

I would highly recommend reading the first book, The Root, before reading The Tree.  I think if I had re-read The Root immediately before delving into The Tree, things would have been a lot more clear. 


                                                                      

Rating: 





Release Date:  January 23rd, 2018

Genre:  Urban Fantasy

Publisher:  Night Shade Books

Page Length:  420 Pages

Source:  Edelweiss

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  If you love enjoy fast-paced action, with creative world-building, you will love this book.

 
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