I think of all the books I picked up in 2017, The Salt Line was one of the most disappointing. What I had expected to get from the synopsis was very different than what was actually delivered, and I’m sure that played a huge part in my disappointment with the book.
I honestly really struggled with this novel and ended up DNFing my ARC copy last year. The book is split into three parts and I quit at the end of the second part. I always felt guilty and wondered if I was missing out, so I picked the book back up from my library and decided to just give in, read the last section of the novel and see if all the build up would lead to something substantial and… It sort of did?
See, I expected to get spine tingling parasites, and instead I got a literary dystopia about… motherhood?
This novel started off so strong! The world building was pretty cool and had some great commentary about how society has this undeniable pull toward empty, showy, consumerist culture, keeping humanity trapped in destructive cycles. I was really digging learning about the world and the main characters who were all pretty decently developed, but after a while I started wondering where everything was going.
“We convince ourselves that we’re living according to our beliefs when we aren’t. Or we change our beliefs so they line up with how we live. Or we don’t believe anything.”
The book at that point slowed down to a crawl as the narrative started to shift to different side characters, giving their backstories and expanding the world they live in. It was obvious that it was set up for the end of the novel, but it was unbearably slow and extremely boring. There were so many flashbacks that told stories about how every character ended up where they are and I kept asking why the whole time.
I will admit that the last part however, was pretty decent and could definitely make for a satisfying reading experience for those less put off by the slow middle parts. I liked how the book explored the idea of motherhood and the varying kinds of mothers out there. It was great that it showed how life changing motherhood can be and the reasons different women would choose to or not to become a mother.
When it all came together it prompted me to push my score up a little from what it was, but I just wish that it could have been delivered better. Less of the side drama and characters that barely matter to the plot, and for heavens sake get rid of the unnecessary romance.
How far will they go for their freedom—once they decide what freedom really means?
In an unspecified future, the United States’ borders have receded behind a salt line—a ring of scorched earth that protects its citizens from deadly disease-carrying ticks. Those within the zone live safe, if limited, lives in a society controlled by a common fear. Few have any reason to venture out of zone, except for the adrenaline junkies who pay a fortune to tour what’s left of nature. Those among the latest expedition include a popstar and his girlfriend, Edie; the tech giant Wes; and Marta; a seemingly simple housewife.
Once out of zone, the group find themselves at the mercy of deadly ticks—and at the center of a murderous plot. They become captives in Ruby City, a community made up of outer-zone survivors determined to protect their hardscrabble existence. As alliances and friendships shift amongst the hostages, Edie, Wes, and Marta must decide how far they are willing to go to get to the right side of the salt line.