My sister was over recently, and once she'd given up trying to find my review copy of Bitterblue (I'd hidden it in my pajama drawer this time), she noticed Gil Marsh sitting on the top of my To Be Reviewed pile.
As we chatted, I noticed that her eyes kept going back to it, again and again, until finally I couldn't take it anymore, and:
Me: It's a retelling.
Her: Oh, thank god. I kept reading it as Gilgamesh even though I knew it didn't say that. How was it?
Me: ... I don't... er... I think it was TOO DEEP for me or something.
Her: Deep. Blecch. LET'S GO SEE CABIN IN THE WOODS.
And so we did. YAY FOR SISTER DATES.
Okay, anyway: Gil Marsh.
Gil Marsh is the BOMC of his high school. Star athlete, star pupil, beloved by all.
And then a new student comes to Uruk High. In some ways, Enko Labette* is the polar opposite of Gil—he's dark and hairy, whereas Gil is smooth and golden—but he's just as strong an athlete. Stronger, even. And everyone seems to love him just as much. More, maybe. At first, Gil is a bit upset. He feels upstaged and competitive. But eventually, he and Enko become friends. More than friends: brothers, practically.
But then tragedy strikes, Enko is gone, and Gil Marsh sets out on a journey to bring him back.
I was really hoping to enjoy this one, and I'm still not sure if my lack of enjoyment is on me, or on the book. Actually, I think it's more on me. Meaning that I feel that the book is very much what the author was shooting for, just not a great fit for me. While I did like the details about the cultural differences between the US and the French-speaking parts of Canada, and I enjoyed the post-Enko sections in which Gil interacts with other people—especially the Adèle arc—Gil, himself, left me cold. That was due mostly to the prose style, which is very distinct, with short simple sentences:
When Coach turned to address the other boys, Enko slapped Gil on the shoulder. Gil walked ahead, ignoring the gesture. Beast Boy had just outperformed him. No one had done that before. And Coach had noticed.
and in the... what is that, past progressive? (I stink at tenses.) Anyway, due partly to the style, and partly to a very strict adherence to the original story, I never felt like there was much heart. It felt, all the way through, like reading someone's writing exercise.
So that was disappointing. Other readers? Other opinions? I'd very much like to hear from someone who enjoyed it!
*Most of the name parallels—from Gilgamesh to Gil Marsh, etc.—are pretty obvious, so I assume Bauer used 'Labette' because 'la bête' translates to 'the beast'.
Book source: Finished copy from the publisher.