by A.C.E. Bauer
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
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 succombs 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. (from Goodreads)
Going into this story I didn't have any expectations of what I thought this story would be like as a retelling because I wasn't familiar with the ancient story of Gilgamesh. I must have skipped over that one. But from reading the book summary, I did have an expectation that this was going to be a story about friendship, loss, self-discovery and growth. Unfortunately it didn't measure up to the standard I had set for it. That may be a bit unfair to the story, but I had very high hopes. I just think that Gil's character needed to be developed more so he would be someone that I wanted to care about.
After Enko's death, Gil was blinded by his grief and every decision that he made was careless and irrational. He was easily taken advantage of and mislead. And while all of these terrible things were happening to him - getting beaten and robbed - all I could think was why doesn't he think things through? Why is he so trusting? Why does he have to lie to his family when all he wants to do is visit his friend's grave?
I would get frustrated while reading because it always seemed like Gil would become distracted from his original intention to visit Enko's grave. His obsession with the ring Enko gave him led to wanting to find the blacksmith who made it with a few detours on the way. I can understand why a reader might not finish reading the book because I kept asking myself - what is the point? I might not have cared what was going to happen to Gil, but I wanted to know what would happen to Gil. I'm glad that I did continue reading because in the final encounters with Old Man Miller and the police officer I finally saw the growth and recognition in Gil that he was seeking, as I reader I was yearning for, all along.
I requested this novel for review from NetGalley and this review is based on the Advance Reading Copy.