OK I admit I haven't read Salt, and so perhaps I shouldn't even be reviewing Gool, but here goes. I found the beginning was strained, but that's often the case with book number two and most particularly, I found it difficult to get into because of the language. It was too simplistic, almost as if Maurice Gee was too scared to write words of more than two syllables and I found that stultifying. Of course, once underway, the plot was great and the ideas were of the callibre that they stayed with you, developing slowly into larger ideas -- that would be completely ruined if I telegraphed them in this review.
So instead of posting a review right away I talked to other people about their reaction to this book, given that mine wasn't exactly what I had expected, because you see, I LOVED Maurice Gee's Half Men of O series, and I know this man can write -- not just, ah that's nice, he's a New Zealander and the writing's ok., but Fiona Kidman -- this is a national treasure -- can write.
And the big thing that they all agreed on was that the writing for Gool and Salt was very simplistic - which is absolutely great if you want to be able to make sure a whole class will be able to read the book, but for the upper end of the market, for those children who read widely and are sensitive to style there's a certain something lacking. In fact in some ways this is true fantasy science fiction of the traditional kind where the plot is terribly important and the writing is merely a scaffold for the ideas --ideas that seem greater than the sum of their parts.
Anyway, if you liked Salt, you'll probably like Gool, some of the locations and characters are obviously revisited and there's nothing like going back and revisiting a world you love and finding hidden depths and dangers -- and the human spirit to confront them.
Review by Alicia Ponder