Salt by Maurice Gee
In this fascinating book, the setting is almost another character. We are in a dark, future world with two very different and distinct classes of people. Hari and his father Tarl live in the Burrows, which are crumbling ruins of their former city called belong. They live a cut throat existence, near starvation on a daily basis and constantly on the watch for Whips (soldiers with deadly, electrified hands) who will capture and enslave them as workers to benefit the Company. Pearl, on the other hand, is the youngest daughter of one of the wealthy and powerful Company officials. She is about to be forced into marriage with the disgusting Ottmar (“a man who has outlived two wives already and looks fat enough to have swallowed them whole”), in order to cement their two family’s alliance. What Hari and Pearl have in common is that they can both communicate using their minds, a sort of telepathy. When Hari’s father is kidnapped by the Company and sent to Deep Salt (from which no one has ever returned), he vows to save him, no matter what the cost.
Pearl and her mysteriously talented handmaid Tealeaf come across Hari as they are all trying to escape the wrath of the Company, and the two teens slowly discover that their fates are intertwined with each other and some larger purpose, involving the future of their entire world.
This book is pretty much non-stop action and will keep you in its grip from the first chapter. The writing style is simple and spare, with the New Zealand author only giving as much detail and description as necessary to move the plot along. I recommend this to fans of The Maze Runner and science fiction, fantasy, and dystopia lovers. This is the first in a trilogy, the second title Gool coming out in the fall of 2010; I can’t wait!