Book Review: The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones

September 19, 2017 2 Bullet Rating, Book Review 2 ★½

Book Review: The Salt Line by Holly Goddard JonesThe Salt Line on September 5, 2017
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
AmazoniBooks one-half-stars
In the spirit of Station Eleven and California, award-winning novelist Holly Goddard Jones offers a literary spin on the dystopian genre with this gripping story of survival and humanity about a group of adrenaline junkies who jump -the Salt Line.-

How far will they go for their freedom--once they decide what freedom really means?

In an unspecified future, the United States' borders have receded behind a salt line--a ring of scorched earth that protects its citizens from deadly disease-carrying ticks. Those within the zone live safe, if limited, lives in a society controlled by a common fear. Few have any reason to venture out of zone, except for the adrenaline junkies who pay a fortune to tour what's left of nature. Those among the latest expedition include a popstar and his girlfriend, Edie; the tech giant Wes; and Marta; a seemingly simple housewife.

Once out of zone, the group find themselves at the mercy of deadly ticks--and at the center of a murderous plot. They become captives in Ruby City, a community made up of outer-zone survivors determined to protect their hardscrabble existence. As alliances and friendships shift amongst the hostages, Edie, Wes, and Marta must decide how far they are willing to go to get to the right side of the salt line.


The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones is a dystopian thriller – with mutant ticks. I picked up this books based on this tag line: “Jones brings strong diverse female protagonists who dominate the plot line, controlling their own stories instead of furthering those of male leads.” This is where a lot of my confusion and frustration is based.

There is honestly NO good way to write this review without it being 100% spoiler free. You have been warned rage ahead..

I will agree that some of the protagonists are female and possibly diverse, but that could easily be debated. There were certainly two fractions of humans in general and there were other nationalities, but I am not sure you really get a “diversity” pass for that. Making all people (or two groups) the same without the cultural differences, is really just talking about diversity in class and nothing else. ( know CULTURES). So, it was diverse in classes and not everyone was white. M’kay, lets move on, “controlling their own stories instead of furthering those of male leads.” Yay! This happens so much in literature and I was excited to read a book that contained women controlling their fate and making shit happen, only it didn’t. Every event or movement contained in this story was male related. A cure – a male. Safety – dude has it. A magical way out – A DUDES MONEY. I wanted to scream and parts of me died a little at some of the twists that literally revolved around a man and his money.

Another thing that drew me to this title in the blurb is the fact that abortion is illegal. The Salt Line takes it a little further by glimpsing into our past and making it a whole “red letter” event with shaming for loose women. M’kay, well lets see what shit the world goes to…only it doesn’t. It was like the author started to build a world where that mattered and then forgot about making a point. Maybe I could forget the issue, but she takes it a step further by explaining why women are changed on a DNA level when they are baking a baby in their womb and that is why secretly ALL women change when they have babies. It makes us into maternal machines of one-mindedness. So, I can’t figure out what the author was trying to achieve here. My gut says that she, herself, is internally conflicted about this subject. Making the pieces of the story revolving around these issues uncomfortable to read.

Holly Goddard Jones’ writing was of median quality. Sometimes the story-line lagged and lacked finesse in filling in the character’s motivation. I kind of broke my rule and peaked at some reviews. Many of them contained references to how the author nailed the Trump Wall issue, only I call BS. I know how publishing works. It takes time to write a book and time to release the book. I also read the authors bio. I can deduce that 2 years has went by since she started writing this book…2 years ago we had not even HEARD a whisper of a wall. So, I don’t buy that the salt line and wall in this book is supposed to represent the theoretical Wall. I can do math.

In all, The Salt Line was disappointing. The premise of mutant ticks and resulting isolation of society didn’t manifest on the pages enough to crawl out of the shadow of the things I didn’t like. I give The Salt Line 1 1/2 bullets..which I don’t actually have a graphic for.


2 Responses to “Book Review: The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones”

  1. Jamie

    I had a hard time slogging through this book and ultimately DNF’d at the start of part 3 but had been wondering if I should have kept going. Glad to see that it seems like I didn’t miss out on much. I’m with you on the uncomfortable and frustrating discussions of childbearing and everything coming down to men. Every time something was added to the baby plot I just kept shrugging like, so how is any of this relevant, is it going anywhere? Totally disappointed, I was expecting something completely different. I don’t know how this book has so many high reviews when it was just not written well. Great review, you brought up some points I hadn’t even considered, like the diversity thing or the Trump wall claims (seriously!?)

    • Annie Slasher

      Thanks! I was really disappointed too. I didn’t look at any of the reviews until I had my first draft done, but I was glad I did. It allowed me to address the Wall issue in my review. Finishing was a chore, but I really held out hope that something grand would happen to tie everything together. Clearly, that did not happen.

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