Salt by Hannah Moskowitz
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Even though their parents disappeared during a hunt three months ago, seventeen-year-old Indi and his siblings, Beleza, Oscar, and Zulu, continue to roam the Mediterranean on their sailboat and hunt down monsters–but Indi yearns for a more settled life for his family, and he hopes that his parents’ journal with its tantalizing hints of a treasure, will provide them all with the means of escape from their nomadic and dangerous life before it is too late.
Salt is like an ode to Supernatural – it has the essential elements: siblings who are brought up by hunters, parents are missing, complicated sibling dynamics with one wanting to continue as a hunter and the other yearning for a simpler life. Indi, the protagonist of this story, has practically raised his two younger siblings with Beleza, his older sister since a long time, even before their parents disappeared three months ago. Now, adrift and looking for clues to their disappearance, the four of them continue sailing, fighting monsters, and hoping to find them again, or if not, get revenge. Along the way, Indi reevaluates what he wants from his life, what he feels about their hunting, and finally getting a choice in the matter.
The monster-hunting angle of this story is not delved into much, which was perhaps the one downside of the story. It appears like there is a whole lore of these sea monsters, and a network of hunters in the life, but most of that is just skimmed over like we are supposed to be familiar with it. It takes away from the excitement of the hunts, because I literally had no clue what the monsters actually LOOKED like. (I just went like – ah, a kraken, I guess? – every time) It is more a character-driven plotline that focuses on Indi, and him finally taking a stand in the direction of his life. The relationship between the siblings is rendered in its messy yet heartwarming glory. Having known only each other for most of their lives, and very less time on land, they are practically glued to each other and the little independence Indi gains gives him a taste of the life he could lead. There is also a whole arc about him figuring out what happiness means to him.
Among the siblings, Beleza is a firebrand who wants to continue hunting and Oscar, a master thief, wants to also do the same. Zulu, however, is too young and Indi worries about the kind of life she and Oscar are being brought up into. The way each of these relationships, between the four of them, is played out, is well-written, giving weight to each arm of this convoluted frame. Also, I loved the fact of them communicating in four different languages mixed up; it was amusing, though – the book being in English even though none of them speak it. Aside from them, there is another secondary character, Hura, who plays an important role for a bit, but then the ending sort of pushed her out? She was a nice catalyst, but otherwise not all that relevant. Avraham sounded like he could be interesting, but the small plotline of the cash register was also abandoned. Eventually, though, this is a standalone and I guess I can forgive it for those threads but it still niggled me a bit.
Overall, a good adventure story with some heartwarming characterization.
Is it diverse? Indi is bisexual, and they all seem to be biracial at least. Hura is a WOC.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Chronicle Books, via Netgalley.
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Releases on October 30, 2018