Title: The Gates
Author: John Connolly
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Satire
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
As young Samuel Johnson wanders the neighborhood with his dog, Boswell, he witnesses something very strange at the Abernathy’s house. Little does he know that what he’s seen is a direct result of an accident at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which has opened up a small gateway to hell. Samuel must work with scientists from CERN, as well as a creature called Nurd, to close the gateway before Satan himself creates a literal hell on Earth.
The summary above may make The Gates sound like an adult horror novel, but it isn’t at all. It’s actually a witty, satirical novel that is reminiscent of The Phantom Tollbooth or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The book is filled with humorous footnotes, and the overall tone is one of whimsy and mischievousness. This makes it a fun, delightful read; children will enjoy it, while adults will appreciate its humor and understand Connolly’s satirical musings.
Samuel is an endearing character, and he and Boswell make an absolutely adorable mental picture for the reader. The boy is inquisitive and extremely bright, but also friendly. He doesn’t hesitate to make friends with the subdemon Nurd, even though Nurd’s original plan involved harming Samuel. The plot is engaging, but it takes some time to pick up, and there are some slow spots over the course of the novel.
The Gates has an added layer of science, which makes it a fascinating read for anyone interested in particle physics. Because the gateway to hell is opened through a stray particle escaping from the Large Hadron Collider (a massive structure underneath the earth in which scientists smash atoms and sub-atomic particles into one another in an effort to recreate the energy of the Big Bang), Samuel insists on understanding the scientific principles behind it. Connolly takes the reader through the difficult concepts of quantum mechanics with surprising detail and clarity.
Overall, The Gates is a quick, easy read that will engage readers of many ages. Connolly has built a fun little world through his book, which is exciting because there is a sequel to this book out now. If you’re looking for an amusing read that won’t make you think too hard, but is different from your normal fare, this is a good choice.