Andy's Reviews > The Gates

The Gates by John Connolly
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Jun 06, 2010

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bookshelves: 2010

I've only read one of John Connolly's books before and have no recollection of what I thought about it. That generally means it wasn't interesting enough for me to pick the rest of the series. Still, I found this on sale (in the Hosptal University book shop, which is turning out to be a nice little shop) and was enraptured with the cover. It's brilliantly designed and captivating enough as a premise to grab my interest.

I started off not liking it though. My main issue being I couldn't figure out who he was writing it for. It seems to be aimed at young adults/kids in many ways - it's labelled 'for strange young people' and at one point he mentions it while addressing the reader as a young person (in one of the copious footnotes). Then there are the occasions he explains the meaning (and in one case, the pronounciation) of the 'bigger' words. All very patronising.

The flip side is a fair bit of complex discussion about god, religion, quantum physics, singularities and advanced wormhole theory. It makes for a chaotic mix.

The main plot is fairly run of the mill and obvious (it reminds me of Boom by Mark Hadon - small unusual boy saves world from Aliens/Demons). Apart from Samuel and Nurd (who I did enjoy) most of the supporting characters (including the two 'best friends' that are only mentioned half way through when a plot point calls for them) are thinly developed. The horror aspects are keenly described but played down and at no point did I feel there was any threat to any of the main characters. As for the demons, well, there's a lot of borrowing from Mr Pratchett.

Still, all that said and done, I quite enjoyed it as a way to kill three hours. I found myself giggling at times and got into the story and if there was a sequel I would probably read it. The initial annoyance I had with the vaguely patronising tone of the footnotes soon got brushed aside by amusement and a desire to keep reading. So I guess it does the job.

I think ultimately, he lacks the finesse and subtlety of say, Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett in creating stories that transcend age groups but it's still an entertaining read. And it does have a great cover.
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