Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Salt by Maurice Gee (The Salt Trilogy, Volume 1)

In this dystopian fantasy, the people of the burrows are little more than slaves to Company. When his father is taken by the Whips and sent to work in Deep Salt, Hari vows to rescue him. He meets Pearl, the daughter of a Company official, who is fleeing an unwanted marriage, and Tealeaf, Pearl's teacher and companion. They are traveling to Tealeaf's village so that Pearl can develop her gift of mindspeaking. When Tealeaf discovers that Hari is able to speak with animals, she invites him to join them. Hari and Pearl soon discover that the substance being mined drains the workers and leaves them empty husks-and that Company is attempting to form it into a weapon to take over the world. Salt succeeds in being not only plot driven and fast paced, but also character oriented. Readers will appreciate the growing friendship between dark-skinned, aggressive Hari and lily-white, pampered Pearl as they discover that they are not as dissimilar as they believed. Gee presents a well-realized future New Zealand, and even those unfamiliar with the landscape will be able to picture the cities, forests, and coasts. A map allows readers to follow the path of the three adventurers, and the spare language makes this first novel in a trilogy accessible to reluctant readers. The dominant themes of prejudice and governmental oppression are subtly presented and do not overpower the action-filled plot. Salt will delight lovers of dystopic fantasies and leave them anxious for the second installment.-Karen E. Brooks-Reese, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information. (from School Library Journal) Give this one to fans of The Hunger Games.