Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: Gil Marsh by A.C.E. Bauer

Gil Marsh 
by A.C.E. Bauer
Published: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Available: Amazon


Good looking, athletic, and smart, Gill Marsh is the most popular kid at Uruk High School, even though he is only a junior. When Enko, a new kid from Montreal, shows up, Gil is wary. Yet Enko is easy going and matches Gil's athletic prowess without being a threat. Soon, the two become inseparable friends, practicing, studying, and double-dating.

Then suddenly, to everyone's shock, Enko succumbs to an aggressive cancer.

When Enko's parents take his body and return to Canada, Gil is unable to even say good bye. He is inconsolable. Determined to find Enko's grave, Gil sneaks away and heads north.

Closely based on the ancient story of Gilgamesh, the Sumerian King from 3000 BC, A. C. E. Bauer has carefully woven the classic elements of myth to follow Gil's quest and explore the grief and growth of a young man.


I feel horrible about writing a review on a book I couldn't read all the way through (although I did get halfway and then skimmed the rest in hopes that it would get better). Gil Marsh sounds interesting. The cover looks interesting. The concept of basing it on the story of Gilgamesh is interesting. Gil Marsh is anything but. From page one I was bored. The writing was dry, events told to us as opposed to shown, and I felt like the author was striving for a high literary style and fell far short. 

In addition to the extremely unnatural and forced writing, there was a complete lack of character building. Gil is good looking, athletic and smart. At least this is what the reader is told. I didn't see any evidence of this, apart from him being athletic. He doesn't get the hot girl, he's judgmental, conceited, rude, and once he makes his plans to go to Canada  he is a complete idiot as evidenced by his utter lack of knowledge about there being homeless people living in one of the largest cities in Canada and his plans to camp in the city park. Gullible would be a better description, especially when he practically gives his money away to a con artist.
When Enko's character was first introduced I thought I was suddenly reading a paranormal gay romance. Gil is obsessed by Enko's body and his body hair right from the beginning and I wondered if Enko was going to turn into a werewolf. There's one scene when at Enko's house where Gil admires Enko's hairy half naked body. Gil repeatedly says that he loves Enko, and despite that fact that I'm pretty sure the story is supposed to be about this strong brotherly love I couldn't help but think that Bauer has never even spoken to a high school boy. If the story had been set two hundred years ago, I would have accepted it as a brotherly love, but in the modern world guys (straight or gay) just don't talk like that.

I can understand that she was trying to remain true to the story of Gilgamesh, but cultures and people change. Look at Beastly or even Red Riding Hood, both are modern retellings and manage to be successful because of the changes that were made. Gil Marsh had the potential to be a great adventure into self discovery and the true value of friendship. Instead it came out stale, stilted and lack luster. 

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to hear that you didn't like this one. I agree with you that the cover and plot synopsis are intriguing!