Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Salt Line

Title:  The Salt Line
Author:  Holly Goddard Jones
Publication Information:  G.P. Putnam's Sons. 2017. 400 pages.
ISBN:  073521431X / 978-0735214316

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "The burn was the first rite of passage."

Favorite Quote:  "You can be lonely without ever having known anything but begin alone."

A political point to be begin with. A key defense mechanism in this post-apocalyptic world is a wall around the region that believed itself the best off in terms of the availability of resources and the lack of pestilence. The powers of the region built a wall as security to keep outsiders from finding their way there except through very strictly controlled, strictly regimented pathways. Coincidence given the current political discussions in the United States? According to author interviews, absolutely. The book has been a work in progress for a couple of years before any talk of an actual wall emerged.  But what a coincidence! As a reader, it is difficult not to draw the comparison.

On to the story. The world as we know it is no more. People live in conclaves, guarding against the dangers of the world outside the wall. Dangers they have never witnessed, but dangers they have been indoctrinated about throughout their lives. The flip side of danger is that it begets adventurers. Tour companies target the rich, offering a carefully orchestrated adventure into "nature" outside the walls for "connecting with nature - however dangerous it can be - is essential to the experience of begin human." This nature trek heads into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

This story is about one such tour group who gets much more than they bargained for. The danger they are expecting is that of the nature, particularly miner ticks whose bite can kill in the most gruesome way as described in the opening pages of the book. What they don't expect is to find a thriving community outside the walls with its own views of the world, its own rules, and its own agenda. What they don't expect to find is political deals and business deals that cross the wall. For some of them, what they find are their own voices and new paths and new relationships.

Then again, the members of the group are not necessarily there for the promised adventure either. Wunderkind Wes, who invented the last big "thing" to alter the world is worried that edge is slipping and is on this trip to do the unexpected. If there is a business deal to be made, that's an added bonus. Edie, who is an immigrant to the world inside the walls and is fighting for stability, is there for she feels she owes a debt to her celebrity boyfriend Jesse. Marta Perrone, who lives in apparent luxury but knows there is a darker side to that wealth, is there because her wheeling-dealing mobster husband deems it necessary. The tour guide Andy...well, why he does what he does becomes clear through the book.

The book follows the storyline of several characters inside and outside the wall. It builds back stories and then moves forward. Perhaps a few too many. The world building is definitely stronger, for I can perceive a visual of the salt line and the worlds on both sides.

The ending of this book is not truly an ending, for several of the characters experience new beginnings. Could that hint at a possible sequel? I am not sure. Am I invested enough in the characters to want to know more? Possibly Marta for she emerges as the most intriguing of all the characters. However, more than likely, not.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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