Tilahun has created a unique world that features diverse characters and fantastical otherworldly beings that are so out there that I had trouble visualizing what they looked like. There were creatures that were translucent blobs and even beings that are covered in eyes. These creatures also had unique ways of communicating which encompassed everything from grunting to wind currents. I found those characteristics a bit much, but that is purely personal preference.
I absolutely loved that the main characters are ethnically, racially, and sexually diverse. Gender, race, and sexuality do not define the characters and there are no stereotypical characterizations to be found here. The diversity is simply part of more realistic reflection of the diversity of the world we live in. Erik's problems do not all stem from the fact that he's gay, but rather from the fact that his father wanted to control the trajectory of his career and didn't put any emphasis on what Erik wanted for himself. Erik's family dynamics and his heritage are part of the background in book one, but it is clear that they will become more significant as his powers continue to manifest and strengthen as the series progresses.
San Francisco's parallel city is Zebub and I enjoyed the corresponding storyline that is developing there. Lil is thrust into the role of sole caregiver for her younger siblings after a horrific incident. Lil is left struggling to juggle her responsibilities to her Holder mentor while having to become the adult and provider for her family. Lil is also manifesting powers and abilities that are surprising to her mentor as well as herself, which causes her problems with many people around her. There's a darkness that is slowly consuming her world and Lil is caught up in the fight to stop it.
Although I really enjoyed the plot of this story, my inability to fully visualize the alternate world and the creatures that inhabit it made it difficult for me to fully immerse myself into the story. I had to pause several times and reread descriptions in order to picture the beings being described and I'm still not sure that I have it right. However, I enjoyed the plot enough that I will grab book two when it is released. I just hope that I will be able to get a better grip on the world being built by Tilahun because the overall story is very good!
A dark, gritty urban fantasy debut set in modern-day San Francisco, filled with gods, sinister government agencies, and worlds of dark magic hidden just below the surface. When a secret government agency trying to enslave you isn't the biggest problem you're facing, you're in trouble. Erik, a former teen star living in San Francisco, thought his life was complicated; having his ex-boyfriend in jail because of the scandal that destroyed his career seemed overwhelming. Then Erik learned he was Blooded: descended from the Gods. Struggling with a power he doesn't understand and can barely control, Erik discovers that a secret government agency is selling off Blooded like lab rats to a rival branch of preternatural beings in 'Zebub—San Francisco's mirror city in an alternate dimension. Lil, a timid apprentice in 'Zebub, is searching for answers to her parents' sudden and mysterious deaths. Surrounded by those who wish her harm and view her as a lesser being, Lil delves into a forgotten history that those in power will go to dangerous lengths to keep buried. What neither Erik nor Lil realize is that a darkness is coming, something none have faced in living memory. It eats. It hunts. And it knows them. In The Root, the dark and surging urban fantasy debut from Na'amen Tilahun, two worlds must come together if even a remnant of one is to survive.