Friday, September 10, 2010

RIP Read #3: The Gates

I had to get one more RIP V Challenge in before Book Blogger Appreciation week starts and, fortunately, it was a great one!  Some of you may have read and enjoyed John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things which is a fantastically dark fairy tale adventure.  Well, The Gates is nothing like that.  Rather, it turned out to be another sort of book I adore -- a dark, very British comedy in the same vein as Douglas Adams and Jasper Fforde.  With character-naming puns (philosophers, no less!) and snarky comments galore, I had a great time with this purportedly YA novel.  I say "purportedly" because I'm somewhat doubtful that it will be many teens' cup of tea.  It has a good bit of science and theology and I didn't feel it was written at a non-adult level at all.  The only sort of youngster or teen that I can see enjoying this book would be the ones who would pick up (and adore) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Anyway, let's go back to the first two sentences --
In the beginning, about 13.7 billion years ago, to be reasonably precise, there was a very, very small dot.  The dot, which was hot and incredibly heavy, contained everything that was, and everything that ever would be, all crammed into the tiniest area possible, a point so small that it had no dimensions at all.
Now, if you are an anglophile and a nerd like me, you probably will have found yourself reading those sentences in a John Cleese-ish jaunty narrator's voice.  In fact, I just might have read the entire book to myself in that voice.  I'll even admit to going and listening to a sample of the audiobook to make sure that they had chosen the correct sort of narrator for this book (which they had).  So, what sort of novel gets an entire faux voice in my head?  One where young Samuel Johnson accidentally watches his neighbors summon up some heinous demons from hell whose duty it is to prepare the way for the Great Malevolence to come to Earth and destroy it.  I don't even know quite where to go from there because this book is all over the place (but in a good way).  We meet demons of all sorts (bad and not-so-bad), Samuel's mom, his friends, his wiener dog, some police officers, a vicar, a verger and a few scientists who work on the Large Hadron Collider and play Battleship.  It's not an incredibly suspenseful tale but it's certainly worth the ride.  A word of warning, though, to any readers who dislike footnotes -- this novel is full of them (and they're funny).

Ready to read it again already,

Support our site and buy The Gates: A Novel on Amazon or find it at your local library.  We bought our own copy.


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  2. This sounds very enjoyable. Thank you for the review.
    I love Adams and Fforde so I guess I should try this one too.

  3. Thanks for the review, I loved loved the Book of Lost Things so will add this to my wish list.

  4. Your reviewalso put me to mind of Good Ownes.

    One other thing in favor of John Connolly: the amazing covers by Robert Ryan.

  5. I love this challenge and signed up, but still haven't started reading the books...LOL I better get moving.

    Have fun with this one.

  6. This sounds like fun!! And it does have a very similar looking cover to The Book Of Lost Things. I thought it was a follow-up of sorts!

  7. I had this out from the library, but I didn't get a chance to read it. I must try again!

  8. Al - I hope you let me know what you think if you try it!

    Jessica - Awesome! It's just as good but totally different. :)

    Sleepless - Yes, it's the same sort of humor as Good Omens too. And I definitely love these covers!

    Diane - I am so totally in love with this challenge. I have two more books waiting to be reviewed!

    Jenners - Completely different tone and everything. I'm kind of in awe of Connolly right now!

    Kailana - I hope you do get it again! I held onto it for a while but now wish I had read it when I originally bought it.

  9. I haven't read any Connolly yet - although the covers (and your review) certainly make me want to do so now! Happy Spooky Reading!

  10. I listened to the audio of this book when it first came out. It was fantastic! I've not yet read The Book of Lost Things, but I've been meaning to.

  11. Connolly's wonderful, isn't he? I'm looking forward to seeing him at Bouchercon this year.

  12. Overflowing - These covers are just amazing (and what's inside isn't too shabby either)!

    Erin - I want to listen to the audio version too but I'm not very good with paying attention. Maybe I'll make a special effort!

    Jen - The Bouchercon lineup looks awesome!

  13. I just posted my review of this book today. I loved it! I too commented on the "narrator voice"; couldn't get it out of my head. I'm a bit skeptical of this as a YA book too. I'm not sure as many teens would enjoy it as would adults. Great review Kristen!