Cover Image: The Salt Line

The Salt Line

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This novel is pitched quite firmly as being in the same sub-genre as STATION ELEVEN (excellent novel) and CALIFORNIA (another good novel, but one I didn't love). THE SALT LINE is Holly Goddard Jones's literary dystopian novel - a story of survival and a group of adrenaline junkies who "jump the Salt Line."

The story is set in the future, but it's not entirely clear how far ahead from the present. It has an intriguing premise, too: the United States' borders have receded behind a ring of scorched earth, called the "salt line", across which deadly disease-carrying ticks live. We're introduced to a group of adrenaline junkies who have paid (a fortune) to venture out beyond the salt line, in order to experience what is on the other side. However, things start to go wrong and danger and peril ensure. (It was inevitable.) 

THE SALT LINE is an interesting novel, one that fits very nicely in its sub-genre, and is also one of the better examples within it. Jones's prose is very good, her characters are engaging and compelling. The story is gripping and moves along nicely. If you're looking for something a bit different in the (sub-)genre, then I'd certainly recommend THE SALT LINE.
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Ticks - even our own version is a nightmare when you think about them. And in The Salt Line it goes so much further than that; so far that humanity (well, the bits most people care about) have retreated behind a wall and a solid no-man's-land of scorched earth. But humanity being what it is, tours are offered for those willing to risk their lives to catch a glimpse of an otherwise unreachable wasteland - yeah, I don't get it either. But our protagonists are a group of people willing to embark on such a tour, and it's not long before the predictable happens, and things go very, very bad.

This is a good book. I don't know why I initially struggled so hard to get into it, but once I'd hit the 10% mark it all started reading much more smoothly. Life even within the safety walls in this future world is hard, and it wasn't hard to see parallels from here to there - there's a significant gap in life quality between rich and poor, illegal immigrants are met with outright hostility, and social media has made its way even further into the depths of it's users private data. 

Overall, it's an enjoyable book, though I'm not sure it's one I'd revisit. One read was entertaining, the suspension of disbelief wasn't weighing on me too heavily for most of it, but it's definitely a like and not a love.
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This is a post-apocalyptic book that made my skin crawl. The premise of creating a safe environment from deadly ticks and condemning others to live outside that safety net is the initial premise of the book. There is much more behind the scenes. The reader learns throughout the book about the social, political, and personal motivations for the split in society and must hold on to their hat to make it to the end. Triumphant, heartbreaking, heroic, and despicable in turns, the characters lead the story on to its conclusion. Compelling read.
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Hey fans of post-apocalyptic fiction, this one's for you! I am constantly amazed by the ability of authors to think of new ways that the world will end and Holly Goddard Jones' The Salt Line is no exception. 

This time, humans have organized themselves into zones that are surrounded by vast areas of desolation (a "salt line"). This new societal structure was necessitated by a tick that burrows into your skin and ... well, let's leave that one to the description in the book.

As usual, I wanted to know more about the breakdown that forced everyone into the zones. This novel mostly takes place outside the zones and amounts to a hybrid of a thriller and a sci-fi novel. There were enough plot twists to keep me turning the pages, but there were some slow parts that felt like a slog.

The characters in The Salt Line aren't wholly good or wholly bad, which makes it an interesting read and renders its characters very realistic. They certainly didn't always make the same choices I would have, but I don't live in a world with killer ticks!
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Mixed feelings about this. Well-written and an interesting premise. I think I was more interested in the idea of living in this harsh world, than the turn it took. Despite that, the plot continued to be interesting, with plenty of action.
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I don't think this was the book for me. I was initially enthusiastic about the premise (which still sounds great btw,) but ultimately I couldn't enjoy it, it because I disliked so many of the characters. I was having real trouble identifying with  them, and didn't care about their problems either.  I can't say it's due to the writing style because  the action sequences were well written, and there were some suspenseful moments, but I didn't finish the book because I didn't care what happened to anyone.
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Recommended for fans of dystopian adventures, The Salt Line follows the fate of a group of tourists who disappear behind the salt line, the border between the safe remains of the former USA and the parts that are too damaged and dangerous to live in. The ending is a little unsatisfying - there were a handfull of characters that I wanted to know more about - but vaguely open-ended enough that the author could either write a sequel or leave things as they are. Definitely check this one out!
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Holly Goddard Jones has written not-your-ordinary postapolcalyptic novel.  THE SALT LINE takes place in a world where climate change has not only flooded low-lying lands, but the change in climate has led to infestations of insects capable of killing huge swathes of the population, similar to how fleas carried Bubonic Plague beginning in the fourteenth century. 

A eco-adventure company sells chances to explore the wilderness, which is hidden behind “the salt line,” a series of defenses meant to contain the spread of the deadly insects. Rich clients are given an opportunity to exchange their mundane, safe lives for a 14-day trip that will test them. They are in danger of dying, and avoiding the Miner Ticks that spread disease means being willing to sacrifice parts of your body in order to prevent dying from a bite. 

But, as the adventurers set off into the woods, they discover that the wilderness is home to communities of people who have been shut out of the safety on the other side of the Salt Line. The natives have plans for the adventurers, and their test against nature turns out to be a bigger test against human nature.
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This novel takes place in a futuristic dystopia where your options are to live "in-zone" where life is perfect (if you're rich), or to live outside the Salt Line, where you're likely to die from starvation, exposure, or a disease spread through the ticks that are impossible to avoid out there. Those who are willing to pay for the trip can venture past the Salt Line for a guided survival adventure. But what happens when the trip doesn't go exactly as planned, and the adventure takes a dark turn? The action and the characters in this novel were great and well-written. My only real issue with the book is that sometimes there's just way too much description. Some people probably enjoy that, but for me, it just slows down the plot.
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DNF @ 60%

It’s truly rare that I get so far in a book only to DNF but it took me almost 2 months to get to 60% and that was far too much time for a mere 400 pages. The beginning held immense appeal and I thoroughly enjoyed how the author unfolded the details of a world where citizens lived behind walls to protect them from disease-carrying ticks. A group of people ventures beyond the walls on some sort of thrill tour, testing the limits of their survival. As the story develops, we’re also given the backstory of each of the members of the group and as you start to realize the dangerous plot they’ve found themselves in the midst of, you also realize that these seemingly innocuous backstories hold more answers than was previously understood. The world building was fantastic and I even enjoyed the backstories even though I was still at a point in the story where I didn’t understand the ultimate purpose, but as soon as the conspiracies were unveiled it just felt way too far-fetched to be taken seriously and didn’t make a whole lot of sense as a whole. It, of course, can be argued that maybe I didn’t give it enough time to answer my lingering questions, but honestly, after reading this for almost two months, I just don’t care.

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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G.P. Putnam's Sons and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of The Salt Line.  I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

The safe zones behind the salt line are designed to keep people safe from the disease laden ticks that exist in the least populated parts of the world.  For the right price, those who seek a little adventure can take a tour outside and explore the areas for which some of them have only the rudimentary knowledge.  When it becomes obvious that something more sinister is at hand, will the group be able to find their way back to relative safety unharmed?

The compelling premise promised a thrilling pace and suspenseful moments, for which it did deliver in two thirds of the book.  The Salt Line falls flat in regards to the conclusion and in parts of the story, especially the lack of information about the ticks.  The situation with Ruby City was glossed over and would have been more impactful had the author spent more time explaining.  Given a similar situation in the real world, it would not be outside of the realm of possibility that events would occur in a similar fashion to this book.  Many of the characters in The Salt Line could have been developed more, as their personality traits and character flaws or strengths were somewhat vague.  I got more of a feeling of the setting and the plot than I did of the character themselves.  Readers who like science fiction dystopian may like The Salt Line, with its quick pacing and interesting plot.  Overall, The Salt Line had promised to be a great read, but falls a little short in the execution of the ideas.
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This was another entry into that near future dystopia type genre that has almost runs its' course. In this novel, the country is besieged by disease carrying miner ticks and to combat them, chemical burns have created salt lines and zones around the country. The Gulf Zone seems not as protected as the Atlantic Zone, where commerce and the accompanying criminal element have blossomed. Here, fear helps keep the populace behind the line, although some well paid contractors venture out for goods/natural resources. While this premise seems alright, the story itself was a bit slow moving.  A group of fairly diverse, (and well off) characters is getting ready to head out on an outward bound type excursion past the salt line. After three weeks of intense training, armed with stamps and full body suits, they head out into the Appalachian area. Once they are out of zone, the story picks up the pace a bit. Naturally there are plenty of people living in the wild and a plot ensues where they are they hostages. It's apparent not all of these people will survive and even for the ones that did, I thought it jumped around a lot and didn't end very cleanly.
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The Salt Line wasn't for me.  I'm not a fan of dystopian books to begin with but took a chance on this one because of the hype.  I didn't finish it.
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This book was engrossing as hell, guys. I was drawn to the premise with my love of apocalypse fiction, but wasn't 100% sure what to expect. Jones made me care about each and every character, even the jerky ones. Perspectives changed with the chapters, so we got into the heads of multiple people, and their stories got more gripping as the book went on. When I hit the 80% mark, I thought "there has to be a sequel, there's no way she can wrap this up so fast" but it had a very satisfying ending. That said, I would love to see another book set in this world. 
My only complaint is we didn't get MORE of this interesting world she'd built. 
Five bright shiny stars from my end. 
Also, I will never look at woodticks the same way again. Holy crackers.
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Set in a not-too-distant dystopian future, Holly Goddard Jones’ second novel The Salt Line, finds affluent adventurers pitted against a harsh and perilous journey. Deadly ticks and rebel settlers exist on the other side of the salt line, a far cry from the excursion against the elements these travelers bargained for.  Group dynamics drives the story as the characters move from their Outer Limits excursion training to their return to the safety zone.
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The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones is a story about a post-apocalyptic world in which walls separate regions to prevent movement back and forth.  The follows the storyline of several characters inside and outside the wall. Perhaps a few too many. The visual world building in the book is definitely stronger. The ending of this book is not truly an ending, for several of the characters experience new beginnings. Could that hint at a possible sequel? 

Read my complete review at 

Reviewed for NetGalley
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A group of thrill seekers go beyond the salt line that keeps them safe from creepy ticks that can kill in a matter of seconds. Sound dangerous. I was really sucked into science behind the ticks and the way they played out in the story, but all that cool stuff kind of got pushed to the background with the introduction of politics. Even with that being said. I read this book in two days and enjoyed it throughout. A Good read. 

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
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Author Holly Goddard Jones envisions a unique biological disaster that devastates the world in her book The Salt Line. But as interesting as that disaster may be it’s the world that comes after that lays at the center of this story making it a truly post-apocalyptic story. Goddard brings together a diverse group of characters all with their own backgrounds and agendas as they face the consequences of this world they live in.
 After a fast-acting and often fatal tick-borne disease devastates society, mankind had to essentially quarantine itself inside various safe zones. But for those with the money, going out past ‘the salt line’ that keeps the ticks at bay can be an exciting thrill. After all, when your entire society exists in a state of confined safety the most dangerous, adrenaline-pumping thing you can do is leave it behind.

In the beginning of the book we meet most of our characters as they embark on a journey into an unforgiving wilderness. But soon after the story switches from some ‘fun’ excursion to a hostage situation as people living outside the safe zones abduct them for their own nefarious, political purposes. Their survival and way of life is threatened and they intend to use the wealthy, influential individuals they’ve captured to their advantage. But they aren’t exactly innocent victims of the safe zones’ wrath. They’ve had their own part to play in the way the world has shaped up and there are some really great twists and reveals as the story progresses.

Really, the world-building is probably the best part of this book.

Seeing how the world has changed and especially then learning how these characters relate to that was very satisfying.

One of the primary characters, Wes, is a tech genius whose social media app has literally shaped the way people spend money. Learning about that app and seeing his background, for example, was incredibly interesting — even more so than what ended up happening with him out past the salt line. Similarly, learning about Marta’s background as the wife of a mob boss with political aspirations (who was basically just at thinly veiled Trump stand-in) was great. And the story unfolds we come across a number of other characters whose voices are added to the larger narrative.

Unfortunately, the book has some problems with pacing.There’s a lot going on in this story and that’s not always a good thing. But it trucks along giving the reader some pretty great moments even when it does start to drag on. 

Part of the issue is that there are a large number of flashbacks and sometimes they work… but sometimes they don’t. And, unfortunately, some characters are just more interesting than others. They could have cut Edie, one of or the main point-of-view characters in the beginning, out entirely and not lost anything in my opinion. And some of the characters who ended up taking the forefront later in the book almost seemed forced on the reader.

Ultimately, though, The Salt Line tells a good story and I don’t regret having read it. I was just also glad at the end to finally set the book aside regardless of the mostly satisfying ending. 

The Salt Line envisions a very well developed world dealing with the aftermath of a biological disaster which makes it unique in a lot of ways. It also has a decent cast of characters and you’ll really connect with some of them as you read. So, if you’re looking for an interesting taking on post-apocalyptic fiction, you may want to check out the Salt Line. 

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Outside of the safe zone, killer ticks are waiting to bite, infest and infect anyone they come in contact with.  However, those brave enough, and rich enough, can hire an Adventure Company to lead them outside of the wall into the wilderness beyond.  A diverse group, including a pop star, his girlfriend, tech billionaire, and mobster's wife have signed up for the adventure.  However, once they are beyond the wall, they are kidnapped and held hostage by a group living on the outside.

This book had a bit of a slow beginning as it tried to introduce a plethora of characters before the adventure could begin.  However, despite this criticism, it was an interesting world.  The idea of disease infested killer ticks makes me shudder, which is part of why this book was so effective.  I look forward to reading more.
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I loved that I completely disliked some of the characters and then came to admire some and that even some of the more likable ones were not perfect.  Finally a dystopian adventure with real people instead of character stereotypes.  I also like that this is a guided tour from hell, these people chose to cross the Salt Line for this "vacation".
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