Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gool by Maurice Gee

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


the hopeful gardener said...

I did read Salt first, and agree that the language is unusually simple. It confused me because I've read Gee's adult books as well (Plumb trilogy, Blindsight, Live Bodies are all beautifully written). My interpretation is that the world he's writing about in the Salt trilogy is one in which practically all learning has been lost. The people and their understanding of their world has become very simple. If Gee used language more complex than they do, it would create a separation between the reader and the world - we know this language but they don't. I think using only language suitable to that world is a technique Gee is using to attempt to bring the reader more 'into' the world, to have them understand/'experience' it from the viewpoint of the characters, not as an outsider.

AJ Ponder said...

I think you are right. But for my tastes he took it too far. For examples books set in the middle ages/Scotland don't need to have impenetrable accents... Even so it was a clever technique from an accomplished writer - so what do I know?


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