"You are chosen to serve Company in its glorious enterprise.
Daily we grow in comfort and prosperity.
In this you share.
Who serves Company serves mankind.
Raise your voices now and give thanks."
Hari and Pearl's lives are ruled by Company, but in completely different ways. In Salt by Maurice Gee, Hari and Pearl might as well live in different worlds.
For Hari and his father, Tarl, every day is a struggle for survival. They live hungry among deadly rats and packs of desperate dogs. When the Company comes the people of Blood Burrow are dragged away and forced to work as slaves. The lucky ones end up at sea, in farms or in factories. The others, however, are sent to Salt or to Deep Salt where no one returns. When Tarl is seized and sent to Deep Salt, Hari vows to break him out.
Pearl lives under Company control, but she is not Company. Among the daily routine of gowns, makeup and royal parties she has been taught about real life from her lifelong maid, Tealeaf. When Pearl flees her arranged marriage, she enters the dangerous life of being relentlessly pursued by Company.
The violence of Company brings Pearl and Hari together as they discover they both share powers they need to learn to control. This fantasy strikes me as a grittier version of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and I enjoyed it greatly. Gee has created a really interesting fantasy world where dictators and rebels struggle for control. Fans of Hunger Games and Jonathan Stroud's Heroes of the Valley will enjoy this novel.
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