Friday, May 6, 2011

Review: Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez

Salvation CityTitle: Salvation City

Author: Sigrid Nunez

Pages: 280 (I have an ARC, so page numbers in finished copies may differ)

Source: Publisher for review

Rating: 6/10

Summary (From back of book):

After a flu pandemic has killed large numbers of people worldwide, the United States has grown increasingly anarchic. Orphaned Cole Vining is lucky to have found refuge with an evangelical pastor and his family in sheltered Salvation City, which has been spared much of the devastation.

But it's a starkly different community from the one Cole has known, and he struggles what his changed world means for him. As those around him become increasingly fixated on their vision of utopia -- so different from his own parents' drams -- Cole imagines building a new and different future for himself.

My Two Cents:

I really liked the concept of this book. A ravaged United States, and world, after a pandemic should create a really rich opportunity to explore a lot of deep issues, right? We should be dealing with food shortages and cleanup and broken families and a crumbling government. But, there's really not much of that here in this book. This book, mostly, is about Cole's suddenly different life, going from an atheistic home of free-thinkers to the home of an almost frighteningly evangelical pastor and his tiny little community of believers.

I think the story line that Nunez created would have worked independent of the flu pandemic. But I didn't feel as if it worked as well as it could have the way it was written. I kept waiting for something to really depend upon the pandemic, but besides Cole being tossed in an orphanage, there didn't seem to be any reason for the pandemic to be used as a device here. Nunez's point easily could have been accomplished had Cole's parents died in, say, a car accident. I guess I was just left disappointed by this.

Salvation City is very well-written. It's an easy read with some great, albeit a little startling at times, detail. Nunez also creates some interesting characters, including Cole and Pastor Wyatt. These factors did keep me going through the book despite my disappointment at the plot itself.


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