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Book Review of The Gates (Samuel Johnson vs the Devil, Bk 1)

The Gates (Samuel Johnson vs the Devil, Bk 1)
ophelia99 avatar reviewed on + 2527 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2

I absolutely loved "The Book of Lost Things" by John Connolly so when I heard that he had written another fantasy I was very excited to read it. This is a very entertaining book and a great read. I didn't think it was quite as good as "The Book of Lost Things" but it was still entertaining.

Samuel spies something happening in his neighbors' basement. Basically he thinks his neighbors have opened a gate to hell and demons have taken over his neighbors' bodies. Meanwhile in Europe some physicists see a particle escape their particle accelerator; they have no idea what that means but potentially they may have inadvertently opened a gate to another realm.

Think of this book as some weird mix between a humorous treatise on particle physics and a tale of the end of the world. Much of the beginning of the book is taken to explaining, in as layman terms as possible, the theory behind the big bang, particle physics, dark matter, and dark energy. These little explanations are broken up by detailing the story of Samuel's life as he is chased down by the demon he saw open a gate to Hell. Eventually the chapters with the physicists and the chapters with Samuel collide to make an interesting story. There are many footnotes that either further explain the science discussed or further explain the strange actions of adults.

This book is targeted at the young adult crowd; there isn't anything bad in here that would make it inappropriate for that crowd. It does a pretty good job of trying to explain quantum mechanics to the masses, but at times the footnotes get a bit length, silly, and plain out boring.

Samuel's story is a good one. The end of the book especially is action packed and really grabs the reader in. Although there are certain things, like the scenes at the church with the vicar, that I never really did figure out the point of in regards to the main story.

The writing style itself is jaunty and humorous even at the darkest times in the book. The characters are all a bit quirky and odd. This book reminded me a lot of The Neddiad by Daniel Pinkwater or Going Bovine by Libba Bray. At times the writing style (and the extreme number of footnotes) also put me in mind of Douglas Adams. In general, although this was an entertaining read, I felt like I had heard this story in this type of jaunty tone before. This is an entertaining read andhumorous but it is not nearly as original as "The Book of Lost Things" was.

Overall a great read, but not as excellent as "The Book of Lost Things". I would still recommend this as a good book for all ages to read and I am still eager to read Connolly's future adult fantasy novels.