I thoroughly enjoyed this inventive rollocking read. This is a great story of a young lad and his adventures and trials through a minature world of green bark hills, watery caves, moss forests and mazes of mistletoe. Toby, a mere pin-head of a boy, lives on an old Oak Tree which is, as far as his society is aware and concerned, the entire world. His father suspects different but because of his scientific knowledge and discovery of the tree's energy source he is persecuted and captured leaving Toby, alone, on the run. The story pulls you in from the very beginning and you travel with Toby through his twists and turns.
Interspersed with flashback sections, this is a linear saga of friendships and family, betrayal and bravery in a climate of fear, and with strong ecological underpinnings, the story could be seen to reflect many of the green issues that concern the earth today - the life force of the tree itself and the damage inflicted by the destruction of this natural resource despite it being integral to the continuation of society.
The different sections of the tree are each host to different ways of life, again reflecting cultures we are familiar with. From his early life in the high society of the Treetops to his family's exile pioneer existence in the harsh low branches, ending up in The Grasslnds and the nomadic hunter-gather life of the legendary Grass People.
Menacing Joe Mitch, the developer, a Chairman Mao character who sets himself up as the all-powerful Friendly Neighbour, who increasingly controls the tree with a network of nasty bullies, industrial digger weevils and soldiers ants. In his fast-paced adventure, Toby avoids and eludes Mitch, solving the riddle of his father's apparent betrayal, and there are many nuggets of good wisdom along the way. If I didn't know this was a translation I would never have guessed -it's been beautifully done with rich and flowing language, colloquial English idioms and great descriptions such as "Nightfall was smudging out the shadows."
I'd recommend this widely, my only caveat being that this is so blatantly the first half of a pair, the end is unsatisfying. It is frustrating to reach the end of the volume when Toby has not yet achieved what he set out to - there's an unresolved love interest and he still needs to find and resuce his parents. I look forward to the next half and just hope it isn't too long coming. In future I think the publisher should look to publish as a boxed set or an 800pp volume rather than in two books.