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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

“The Gates” by John Connolly (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official John Connolly Website
Order "The Gates" HERE
Read the FBC Review of "The Lovers" by John Connolly
Read an FBC Interview with John Connolly

BOOK & AUTHOR INFO: This is the thirteenth offering by John Connolly in the last 12 years since he first got published; it is also technically his first YA book as "The Book of Lost Things" couldn't exactly be classified as a YA book due to its adult content. In another first for John Connolly, this year has seen two new novel releases from him, as this is the 2nd release in 2009 for him after "The Lovers" (FBC Rv) was released 3 months ago.

The Hardcover edition released in the US is published by Atria books. The book has 296 pages. The story is divided into 32 titled chapters; it also has footnotes in it. There is an acknowledgments page as well

BOOK OVERVIEW & ANALYSIS: John Connolly had referenced "The Gates" as "an adult book for children, in a way". This book was his way of protest against all the other books wherein the young protagonist saves the day and/or the world by using magical deus ex machinas. So even though this tale does feature magic, it's only being used by the evil side.

The young hero in this book is 11 year-old, bespectacled Samuel Johnson whose claim to fame could be a high IQ & an unnerving ability to speak of things beyond his age. This was supposed to be an experimental book for John Connolly as it was written on spec; though once it was done, his publishers agreed to offer it as well.

The novel is stylistically a departure from John's melancholy tinged, dark humor laced thrillers. It is a very pleasant, fact filled fun book which is aimed at giving the reader some very funny observations and facts and also a very good tale. "The Gates" is set in recent times in the small town of Biddlecombe.

Samuel & his dachshund Boswell are trying to show initiative and get people to give them candy three days before Halloween. It is during this that Samuel happens upon the house located on 666 Crowley Drive and sees something which he shouldn't have. His neighbors managed to open a portal into Hell itself and got sucked into it for their efforts. Their bodies are now inhabited by certain other persona that aren't very pleasant and plan to open the gates of Hell using the Hadron particle collider.

Thrown into this mess is also a demon called Nurd, who has been banished by Lucifer the Great Malevolence; however due to the effects of the demons trying to open the Hellish gates, he got picked rather violently from his land and ejected into ours.

The main POV characters in it are:

Samuel Johnson, the inquisitive and quiet 11 year old who alone knows how much trouble, little Biddlecombe & the larger world is about to get into.

Mrs. Abernathy, who precipitates this mess by calling in the demons & gets her wish when she invites someone who takes over her body.

Nurd, Scourge of the five deities, a banished demon who is also transported into our world & tries to establish himself as its ruler.

Professor Hilbert, a scientist of CERN, who tries to figure out what, could possibly be wrong with the particle collider.

Tom & Maria, Samuel's best friends, whose passions for cricket & studies are unmatched & who try to help Samuel in closing the Gates.

"The Gates" is also filled in with footnotes which mention certain facts and conclusions, making the novel a very intellectually stimulating & an enriching read alsol. The footnote aspect is very similar to the footnotes found in the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud & if you liked that you'll like it here as well.

John Connolly has maximized his humor skills in this book & often you will find yourself chuckling along the dialogue and characterizations. The novel does not have a great mystery at its heart and you can probably guess what the ending is going to be & you would probably be correct. However you would miss out the fun in reading this tale.

"The Gates" does not masquerade as a Harry Potter clone & readers should not expect it to be. It's a simple light-hearted tale meant for both children and adults. The ending is complete albeit with a small thread left open for any future sequel if the author should decide to do one.

This book is another delectable offering from John Connolly who is writing only quality books. This might not be the next big bestseller to join Twilight or Harry Potter however what it will do is give the reader a lot to chuckle about & in the end satisfaction for a tale well told.


Chris Warren said...

Sounds like a great read. I think we sometimes forget that reading a book should be an entertainment. John's approach, to include a story line you can follow, without a degree in social psychology, and a good helping of humour are so important.

WE too frequently get into analysis paralysis over the detail of a books style, content storyline, etc. Just read and enjoy - that's what I aimed to do with my recent book (Randolph's Challenge Book One - The Pendulum Swings, and the feedback, so far, has been very positive.

Chris Warren
Author and Freelance Writer
Randolph's Challenge Book One - The Pendulum Swings

CroakerBC said...

Thank you for the review. I am of course buying the book as soon as they are available in paperback format (can't afford to buy the hardcover).

I find it a glaring omission that John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things isn't reviewed here. It's one of my favorite fantasy books of 2009. I like it as much as Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.
The Book of Lost Things is similar in theme to Peter David's Tigerheart, China Miéville's Un Lun Dun, and Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, but it is much darker than those books because, after all, it's John Connolly.

Right now I am really pissed that I don't have The Gates in my hands. Really really really pissed!!

The Reader said...

@ Croaker

I'm glad you like the review. The book of Lost Things is indeed a remarkable book, I read it in 2007 and I liked it a lot[Considering its written by JC, that isn't such a big surprise].

I might review it in the future time permitting. Right now I'm more excited about "The Whisperers" the next book in the Charlie Parker series.



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