by Maurice Gee
Orca Book Publishers, 2009
$18.00, 252 pp, ages 13+
Maurice Gee, one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed writers, creates a world that is both mysterious and entirely familiar. Hari and Pearl come from very different lives in that world but are bonded by common purposes and a powerful ability to communicate with their thoughts. Using that power, they fight the injustices of an oppressive and cruel regime and seek peaceful lives for themselves and their people. Hari must rescue his father who has been sent to his death in the place called Deep Salt. Pearl, aided by her mysteriously talented maid, Tealeaf, must escape an arranged marriage with a tyrant. There are scenes of brutality, scenes of generosity and kindness, and scenes of selfless courage. The story is fast-paced, the themes important, the characters complex. This is a book that will appeal for its storytelling skill but also warrants thoughtful reflection on the use of force and the abuse of power and on how good can triumph over evil, even when evil cannot be entirely eliminated. As another reviewer put it, “Salt is a stunning mix of action and ideas.”
“Salt” is the first in a trilogy and readers can be enticed into the second book by the opening chapter printed at the end of this first book.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s March 2010 issue.