REVIEW: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

August 20, 2016

 

SYNOPSIS: Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

 

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

 

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

 

Yet not all promises can be kept.

 

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

 

GENRE: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

 

RATING: ★★★☆☆ / 3 intriguing but short stars.

 

REVIEW: Okay, don't hate me when I say that I didn't absolutely love this book (I mean, I suppose you could hate me and I probably wouldn't care, but let's at least have a proper discussion of our differences before we jump into the book crazies). For me, the experience of this novel was just okay, and I never hit any true levels of heightened emotion. There were no tears or melancholy. I simply closed the book and thought, well that's done now. And for a book highlighting the greatest maritime disaster in history, even a young adult book, I expected more.

 

Salt to the Sea is a very short book and therefore a rather quick read. The story is told from the perspectives of four different characters that converge and intertwine. While each character was unique in their own way, the abruptness of the chapters didn't give me adequate time to become attached or emotionally invested. The quick bouncing from character to character made for a very choppy reading experience.

 

The overall story was great (or not precisely "great" considering the subject matter but I think you get my point). The journey towards the promise of safety during a time and place when no one was safe makes the basis of a very intriguing and compelling story. The four teenagers from widely different backgrounds created a perfect mix for this book. It was the overall execution that I found lacking, however, and left me feeling incomplete and unfinished.

 

Speaking of unfinished, I really disliked the way the book ended. Not the choices that the author made with the characters, but that it cuts off so abruptly. It felt unfinished, I felt short-changed. A little twist of snail-mail just didn't wrap it all up, but seeing as how the rest of the book was so short and choppy I probably shouldn't have been that surprised.

 

All in all, while I didn't hate this book, there would definitely be other books that I would recommend over it.

 

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