Sunday, March 23, 2014

Salted by Aaron Galvin

Author: Aaron Galvin
Release Date: April 24th, 2014
Source: ARC from the author in exchange for
an honest review.

Life isn’t better under the sea.

Lenny Dolan is all too familiar with this reality. A Selkie slave in the realm beneath the waves, he has no choice when charged with leading a crew ashore to capture an elusive runaway. If unsuccessful, the loved ones kept behind will pay for his failure with their lives.

But when their target leads Lenny and his crew to deeper, darker secrets, the Selkies are faced with a moral dilemma. Secure their own freedom at the expense of others, or return empty-handed to face the grisly consequences?

How Lenny and his crew answer the question will teach them the harshest truth of all. Only through the loss of innocence does one become Salted.

It's always hard to find a unique novel on mermaids. I've seen a spin or two from time to time, but nothing really original, and certainly nothing I'd really describe as 'cool'. That was until I got the chance to read Salted. This is a creative take in somewhat unexplored territory that leaves the reader questioning and wondering as they go along. What does it mean to be 'Salted'? How do these character's stories fit together? Who are we rooting for? One of the benefits and flaws about being an ARC reader for a book like this, is no one is really around to throw out spoilers for you. 

In this case, I think this is the best way to go into this book, so I will leave you sitting in the darkness.

With Salted, I'll be honest: there are times when it's hard to wait for answers. I find it difficult when a bunch of new terms are handed to me and I don't know what they all stand for. Being set down in a new world with no direction does get annoying, but in the end, I feel it makes the journey more eventful as the book sorts things out for you. Salted delivers a page-turning story that doesn't shy from perhaps more difficult topics and situations. I would consider some of the elements to be 'raw' or 'real', but that is always something I enjoy in a word full of fluff and happy endings.

The story itself is special beyond just the plot, with a rather diverse set of main characters, varying from ethnic backgrounds to physical features. Among the fantasy elements, there are also some real problems that the characters face. Garrett is bullied, several of the characters are in slavery, and characters have to choose between their own safety, and that of others. For a YA novel, there is some heavy stuff in this book, which make sit lean towards the teen spectrum, in case anyone is wondering whether this would be a good book for someone they know. 

I teetered between eight and nine stars on this one, because this book calls a bit in the downer category for me. I think future novels could help ease that element, but it is hard to feel a sense of resolution with the sort of ending this leaves on. I also wasn't quite sure enough of my questions were answered in the end. With books like these, you strap yourself in with the promise more will be revealed. I am unfortunately impatient, and always sulk a bit when I get to the end, and that just brings more waiting.

Overall, I think the creativity alone makes this a good read. The characters felt fleshed out to me, and the plot pulls you forward as it continues. Congrats to Aaron Galvin for taking on such an imaginative project. Now I just have to wait impatiently for someone else to read it so I can compare more detailed thoughts about it....

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