I hate to be a downer, but both of these books had great premises and yet reading them, I felt like something was missing. Neither really grabbed me and the endings felt anticlimactic. I suspect this was mostly personal preference though, so I’ll explain what I didn’t like about them and you can figure out if they might work better for you.Title: Certain Dark Things
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
In a world where humans discovered that vampires exist and drove them out of many countries, various clans of vampires with differing powers have all settled in Mexico. Although vampires have been banned from Mexico City, their war to control the drug trade spills over into the city where street kid Domingo and jaded cop Ana get swept up in their conflict. The world building in this book felt very thorough, well thought out and believable. I loved the creative inclusion of vampires based on mythology from different parts of the world. I really liked the main characters and particularly enjoyed the well developed, unique female characters, both vampire and human. There were some exciting action sequences, but there wasn’t much to the plot, which was quickly derailed by a strange romance. I would have minded this less if the romance had then had an obviously happy or tragic ending. As is, it detracted from the rest of the story and ended in a wishy-washy kind of way.Title: The Salt Line
Author: Holly Goddard Jones
This book has another unique idea for an alternate reality. In the future, global warming has enabled the spread of ticks carrying a deadly disease throughout the world. As a result, humanity lives in isolated enclaves behind various ‘salt lines’, razed earth that the ticks cannot cross. A group of wealthy tourists pay to expedition outside the salt line, but get more than they bargained for when they’re kidnapped by survivors from beyond the salt line with mysterious motivations.
This book was described as literary fiction in the spirit of Station Eleven and although I try not to take these comparisons seriously, I do think that influenced my expectations. This was similar to Station Eleven in that it was slower paced sci-fi. However, I would not describe it as ‘literary’, a term I would (perhaps slightly snobbishly) use only for exceptionally well-written books that I feel have something profound to say about human nature. This was more a character-driven, psychological thriller. There was a lot of suspense because we didn’t understand the goals of the kidnappers. There was also a lot of backstory for many characters. I found the characters fascinating and the world building creative, but most of the characters’ motivations didn’t convince me. That might be why I didn’t feel much emotional connection to the book. And as with Certain Dark Things, I found the ending anticlimactic. There were a few big reveals in the plot and they didn’t lead up to the exciting confrontation I expected.