Friday, April 3, 2015

Taken With A Grain of Salt: Salt Series Book 2

Galvin, A. (2014). Taken With A Grain of Salt. Salt Series Book 2.

YA / Fantasy

I gave this book 5 of 5 stars!

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A3 GIVEAWAY #2 With A Grain of Salt (TWAGOS) smoothly picks-up right where Salted left off and never slows down.  Block some time to read this straight through and then leave extra time to recover because the pace and storylines are frenetic.  A wonderful tool included in TWAGOS is an appendix which lists the characters and categorizes them by transformed state (Selkies, Drybacks, Nomads, Orcs, Merrows), plus it reminds you of who is living and who isn’t at the end of Salted. Readers will find this very helpful to reference before and during reading TWAGOS.  If author Aaron Galvin decides to include this feature in book three (please do!), then readers can expect it to be much longer, as TWAGOS brings a variety of new, super interesting characters to its pages. 

TWAGOS is told through multiple points-of-view, (Kellen’s, Garrett’s, Lenny’s, and Chidi’s), and the characters are more fully developed than in Salted. Galvin keeps the characters separate because, in part, they have unique voices. For example, through clever dialogue, you can really hear Lenny’s Boston accent (“Hey, Weava!” “Swim Fasta.” “Whattaya doin’, moron?”) and Henry’s French accent  (“Chee-dee. . .” “I weel ‘ave you.”  “I only want ze girl.”).  In book two, the main characters are all trying to find their paths, fighting both internal and external battles, while morphing, both physically and mentally.  The story centers mostly on Kellen and Garrett, who have been captured from the land and are now slaves.  Kellen is consumed with hatred, but readers will find out more about him and may find themselves viewing him differently.  Garrett is still Garrett – uncorrupted, sweet, and gentle – and is one of the few points of light and hope in the book, but there are undertones that may make readers wonder if he can remain that way for much longer.  For Lenny lovers, like myself, there’s plenty of pagetime dedicated to this little Selkie who is shown to be even more dynamic and complex than he initially seemed.  Chidi’s story is perhaps the most mysterious and is absolutely heart wrenching, and her chapters will evoke some of the strongest emotions.  As for the other characters, readers should prepare to loathe and love and everything in between without necessarily being able to settle on one feeling for anyone; this is certainly by design, thank you Mr. Galvin.

What really makes this book great is the underwater world-building, which is vividly described and easily visualized by the reader. Galvin provides just the right details for the very intentional impressions he wants to create.  (The Gasping Hole!!! I will say no more than WOW. ) Honestly, there were descriptions done so well that I would crinkle my nose because I could smell the scene being depicted. That's some writing talent. Readers are given background through richly woven stories of the ancients and the folklore of the Salt world.   The greed of the Crayfish (booooo, hissssss), the harshness of slavery, the deception, anger, and hatred of that world are always simmering, and it’s not a matter of if the whole world is going to blow-up, it’s a matter of when.  The last chapters basically leave readers with four separate cliffhangers, but all the separate storylines are moving together, so the ending works well despite a million remaining questions.

The advice I gave readers in Salted still stands for Taken With A Grain of Salt: don’t get too attached to anyone because the body count is high, and if there is an appendix in book three, “deceased” will be put behind many a character’s name.  Death happens, almost always brutally, sometimes more graphically than others, and the underwater world is a dark, brutal place.   The issue of repeated sexual abuse is still lingering in the background, but there isn’t any sex or profanity.  
Thank you to author Aaron Galvin for providing me a free eBook in exchange for my honest review – the only kind I give.


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