Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 85

Maybe a spoiler or two in this one...

Here's a quick description of The Gates by John Connolly:

"Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Halloween, which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Road. The Abernathys don't mean any harm by their flirtation with the underworld, but when they unknowingly call forth Satan himself, they create a gap in the universe, a gap through which a pair of enormous gates is visible. The gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out...
"Can one small boy defeat evil? Can he harness the power of science, faith and love to save the world as we know it?
"Bursting with imagination and impossible to put down, The Gates is about the pull between good and evil, physics and fantasy. It is about a quirky and eccentric boy, who is impossible not to love, and the unlikely cast of characters who give him the strength to stand up to a demonic power.
"In this wonderfully strange and brilliant novel, John Connolly manages to re-create a the magical and scary world of childhood that we've all left behind but so love to visit. And for those of you who thought you knew everything you could about particle physics and the universe, think again. This novel makes anything seem possible."

Here's what I don't love about that book jacket description: the use of the world "impossible." Really? It was possible to put the book down. It wasn't covered in SuperGlue.

On to my review! This book was really, really good. It had a YA feel to it - and you all know how much I love YA. The characters were really likeable, even the unlikeable ones (you know, like the Devil and his minions, and while I figured that the little boy would win in the end, I was rooting for him nonetheless. You know how sometimes you don't root for the hero because he's, well, the hero, and whether you root for him or not, he's going to win? Not so with The Gates. Maybe the book jacket has it right: Samuel is impossible not to love. And hello!? There's a dog! And he's a thinking, feeling dog, but a dog nonetheless. John Connolly mentions what the dog smells, from the dog's point-of-view, but the dog never talks. Good job, JC. However, I could think of a better breed than a dachshund for Samuel's four-legged friend. Someday I'll tell you about my granddad's evil doxies...

One last thing: I really liked that Samuel has friends. Too often in books like this, the protagonist is all alone in the cold, cold world: an orphan, or an only child, and certainly with no buddies. But Samuel has AWESOME friends, Tom and Maria, as well as a mother who loves him(and Boswell, of course). And rather than alienate me by bucking the formula, the friends drew me in even further.

This 293-page book sure felt a lot shorter. Because I LOVED it.

The Gates - A

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