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The Salt Line

Cover: 'The Salt Line'

Staff Review: "The Salt Line" by Holly Goddard Jones

★★★★★

In this future version of the United States, a deadly tick-borne disease has driven the population to live in regional zones. These safe areas are separated from the out-of-zone area by bands of scorched earth and large, vibrating walls—the salt lines. Life in-zone is dominated by technology and the digital world, and it’s a regimented but safe existence. Outer Limits Excursions provides those seeking the thrill of camping under the stars or experiencing natural wonders the opportunity to trek out-of-zone for a significant price.

The current expedition includes Wes, a young tech CEO, a pop star and his girlfriend (Edie), Marta, the wife of a “connected” businessman, a survivalist power couple, and a pair of Japanese siblings. They are outfitted with high tech gear, including a Stamp, which can kill the dreaded ticks upon attachment but only if administered quickly. Edie has lingering doubts about her boyfriend; Marta was directed by her husband to befriend Wes, and Wes is completely out of his comfort zone in more ways than he cares to consider. When their trip presents unanticipated challenges and dangers, alliances and relationships are tested. Can they rely upon each other to survive?

This excellent book is a compelling, dystopian adventure with a bit of political thriller blended in that doesn't lose sight of the characters and their humanity. The point-of-view alternates each chapter with Edie, Mara, and Wes as the central characters and primary narrators, though others do get their turn in the narrative spotlight. If this difficult-to-put-down adventure doesn't keep you up past your bedtime, nightmares about the ticks (which have a distinctive bite with horrifying consequences) may cost you some sleep, but it’s worth the risk! Recommended to fans dystopian fiction and books such as Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel or California by Edan Lepucki.

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

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