Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book almost met the wall a few times, especially in the first third, when both the plot and characters seemed to be flailing aimlessly. Finally, when the protagonist falls from the treetop settlements of the rainforest that is her home, the pace picked up a little. I did manage to finish it; the author is competent (although this is very much a first novel, with all the attendant problems), but I won't be picking up any sequels.
The reason for this is the main characer: Unar is the most vain, selfish, cocksure, arrogant, whining little twit I have had the misfortune to be around in a long time. She is sure she is destined for a special position and cannot understand why everyone around her doesn't see and acknowledge this. Her stupid decisions not only get her in trouble, but drag other people along in her wake. After a while, I kept reading mainly because I wondered when this little idiot would see what an ass she was being. She did, eventually, but by that time it was too late to salvage the book, at least for me.
Which was unfortunate, as the setting was definitely the most interesting aspect of this book. We have what is apparently a planetary or at least a continent-sized rainforest, with trees hundreds of feet tall and wide. There are three levels of civilization to this forest--Canopy, Understory and Floor--with the Canopians harboring the gods/goddesses and the magic system that makes the civilization function. (They take the Understorians as slaves, and are convinced that they alone are the rightful keepers of magic--in fact, they killed the rival Old Gods of Floor--so I guess it's no wonder Unar is so arrogant and entitled.) The author has clearly done her research--her inventive names for the many plants, the complexity and alienness of the ecosystem, and her names for the Understorians (all the latter names are palindromes) are fascinating.
I just wish she could've written some equally interesting characters to go with her world. As it is, I'm only giving this book two stars because of its setting. Personally, I never want to read about Unar again.
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