Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release: September 5th 2017
Received: Penguin First to Read
I received an advanced copy of the Salt Line from Penguin First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I decided to give the Salt Line a try because the description made it sound like something I have never read before – a refreshing change to say the least. I’ve read plenty of dystopian novels in my time, but never once has a novel incorporated an insect as the reason for the world going to hell. Needless to say I was intrigued.
The world has gotten even smaller – but not thanks to overpopulation. There’s a new breed of ticks out there and they carry fatal diseases (as well as causing severe damage on their own). This caused humanity to flee into safe zones. Naturally the curious and exceedingly wealthy can adventure out into the wilds, but it’s worth noting that you pretty much have to be both in order to make it work.
This should probably go without saying, but if you have a phobia about bugs you should seriously consider staying away from this novel. Heck, I don’t have a phobia and I found my skin crawling hours after having read it. Seriously, I kept thinking things were crawling on me…it took me longer than I’d like to admit to put two and two together there.
I haven’t read anything else by Holly Goddard Jones, but based on what I’ve seen in the Salt Line she very clearly is awfully talented in world building. The dystopian world came to life in ways that I probably should wish it hadn’t – the threat from the outside seemed so real (as did the barrier and the tech introduced throughout). I did find myself wondering if other animals were affected by the ticks – but there were limited examples of this one way or the other, so I find myself wondering still.
The perspective shifts were used to flesh out the world in addition to creating and building tension. Seeing the different character’s way of thinking helps the reader to realize that there’s even more going on than meets the eye (which is saying something), unraveling layers upon layers of depth. As a bonus: while there’s a decent number of characters the perspective switches between, it never hits the overwhelming point.
My biggest complaint about the novel was that the book I started reading wasn’t the book I finished reading. It starts out as a dystopian world where the ticks are the biggest threat. Then (spoiler warning) it turns into a government conspiracy where humans are the real enemy. The ticks become nearly irrelevant. Considering that the ticks were the biggest draw (for me at least) that was pretty disappointing. I would have loved to see more about them (even if they made my skin crawl).
The Salt Line appears to have set up for a sequel (though it also has one of those endings where if there was no sequel it wouldn’t drive you bonkers). I think I’d be willing to read the next one, despite my complaints about this one. Holly Goddard Jones is a fantastic writer and I’d be curious to see where she brings her world next.