Sunday, January 09, 2011

Tree of Life (Elita Faith Daniels)

At 380 pages and over 5,700 locations (Kindle units of measurement), Elita Faith Daniels' Tree of Life was a multiple-sitting endeavor. Unfortunately — or fortunately, as one might have it — the novel proved to be one from which it was difficult to walk away, and I was hard-pressed not to read through the night.
  • Overall: 4.3   ҉
  • Plot: 5/5
  • Originality: 3/5
  • Language: 4.2/5
  • Believability: 5/5
The story begins not with the main character of this tale, Deacon, but rather with the people and the betrayal that would guide the journey occupying the bulk of this book. Though initially a bit disappointed at the brevity of the first adventure, I was quickly placated by the realization that it was only the backdrop to a more involved production.

Daniels proves herself as one with a good understanding of human nature. Her characterizations are consistent, even with the transformations and maturation of personalities. Deacon himself displays aspects of the Byronic hero, a man whose inner darkness drives a self-destructive attitude towards those who surround him. We are slowly drawn into his inner turmoil, and while much of this is elicited through his scenes with Magenta, the interest gave purpose to the otherwise overly-romantic sections. With that being said, there were still moments when I wanted to knock him upside the head for being so slow to make up his mind.

Many of the names, as well as the fantasy realm itself, seem to draw heavily from Tolkein. The similarity of elven attributes was difficult to ignore, and while this facilitated the process of picturing an ethereal race, it took away from the mysticism of it all as my mind started drawing parallels between Tree of Life and Lord of the Rings. Fortunately, the creativity of the plot, as well as the well-paced storyline, maintained my interest in the reading at hand. Daniels displays a firm understanding of "show, not tell," as she introduces the reader to concepts and characters without giving excessive background information. We learn the details as we would in real life — through conversation, action, and events.

For the most part, the text flowed quite readily. The author's sense of rhythm and sentence structure is well-developed, and complex ideas are conveyed in lyrical prose without becoming cumbersome in their dense verbiage. Even so, there were some paragraphs where unintended redundancy marred the effect. If something is described as shocking, for example, then we need not to be told that the character was shocked. Appalled, or amazed, perhaps, but certainly not a word that was already used. Additionally, the overuse of variations of the word "caress" began to wear at me by the end of the book.

With its complex, carefully planned storyline; its believable characters; and the promise of intrigue yet to come, Tree of Life is a novel that propels the reader headfirst into hours of pleasant reading and goads him into swimming frantically towards the final destination: the last page. The ending left me itching for the next installment in this series, and I look forward to finding out the fate of characters that have become dear to me over the course of two days.

(Review copy provided by the author)


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