I don’t think I can recommend this one. The concept was interesting, the beginning was good, and the climax was well done. But the middle and the very end dragged it down too much.
Jubal is a planet that was only recently settled by humans. Giant crystal structures poke up out of the landscape all over the planet. The humans call them Presences, and they are very sensitive to sound. If they’re too bothered by noise, they explode, sending shards of crystal into anyone or anything in the vicinity. The Tripsinging profession has grown up around these Presences. Tripsingers escort travelers through the dangerous crystal-pocked landscape. Each one has its own preferred song, called a Password. The Tripsinger has to sing each Presence its specific Password to make it not explode. Sounds pretty cool, huh?
Tasmin is a Tripsinger professor, teaching the next generation of singers how to navigate this dangerous world. The planet is in an uproar, with a government riddled with corruption and an upcoming committee visit by those who decide if a planet has sentient life. If this committee decides that Presences are sentient, and that the Passwords are actual language, then humans would have to leave and the corrupt government officials would lose lots of money (they export some kind of alcoholic plant that everybody’s hooked on). Tasmin and his students stumble on a plot and a secret, and set off across Jubal only steps ahead of various assassins.
The setup is great, and the end when we find out about the Presences is cool. But the middle draaaaaags. There are all these unnecessary character viewpoints that serve as clumsy exposition. Characters talk in huge blocks of text, covering stuff they should already know, but they have to let the reader in on it. Tasmin is kind of a whiny jerk. There’s a love triangle that pissed me off (students and teachers, ew! no!), plus the most ridiculous sex scene I’ve ever read. I was interested enough to finish the book, but it definitely did not live up to its potential.