18 December 2013

Books: The Gates By John Connolly (2009)

Three years ago, I picked up John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things. That 2006 release was the authors’ first attempt of joining the literary world of YA fiction (Connolly is known mostly for his mystery thrillers that have supernatural overtones to them) that exploded in the wake of the Harry Potter franchise. And while some might consider it more adult (and when Borders was open, it was shelved in the Sci-Fi section) due to some of its themes, I enjoyed the book, but have not read anything of his since. Then I was at the library returning a book and wandered around to the new releases area and saw The Creepers by him. I looked through it and thought I this would be a fun, light read as the year is closing out. But The Creepers is the third book in a series, so I wandering over to the fiction section of the La Verne library, I found the first two books, The Gates and The Infernals. Long story short (too late, right?), I checked out all three books.

And I was not disappointed.

“Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Halloween, which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Road. The Abernathys don't mean any harm by their flirtation with the underworld, but when they unknowingly call forth Satan himself, they create a gap in the universe, a gap through which a pair of enormous gates is visible. The gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out.... Can one small boy defeat evil? Can he harness the power of science, faith, and love to save the world as we know it?”

Connelly’s premise is not earth shatteringly original, but it’s in his execution that book becomes brilliantly hilarious. He’s able to balance some great characterization with droll, sometimes slapstick, humor along with explaining particle physics and alternate/parallel universes.

And while Samuel and Boswell are great, it’s the demon Nurd, the Scourge of Five Deities, who ultimately steals the whole book. He’s hapless demon, stuck in his Wasteland with nothing to do and keeping away from the Great Malevolence (what the devil is called here). But fate takes him from his lonely throne and puts him into the middle of conflict that, ironically, could put him –along with Earth- in great danger.

There is plenty of humor -at times, it’s very Douglas Adams like in tone, or for more modern readers, you could consider Terry Pratchet and Eoin Cofler - for both kids and adults (who can either read it themselves or to their kids), and Connolly brings enough whimsy to his old-fashion tale that book speeds along fast -which is good, because the book does take time to get going (the author –in both the main body of the book and in footnotes at the bottom- goes on about quantum mechanics, wormholes, black holes, dark matter, the big bang, the Higgs boson "god particle" and Switzerland's Large Hadron Collider. 

While this series seems to be geared towards the YA audience, my library shelved them in fiction. I'm curious if this was intentional based on his adult books (and I'm thinking that Borders shelved it in Sci-Fi as well). Just curious. 

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