by A.C.E. Bauer
Good looking, athletic, and smart, Gil 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.
In A.C.E. Bauer's stunning retelling of The Epic of Gilgamesh, you are thrown into a modernized version of the continual search for the answers of life. Reanimating the oldest recorded story seems to be a very daunting task, but Bauer does it with ease.
We follow Gil Marsh through his reign over Uruk High school (nice play on name of Gilgamesh's kingdom) and his meeting of Enko at the beginning of this book. The two boys seem to butt heads at first because they rival each other so closely. But in the end they become inseparable. After Enko suddenly dies, Gil needs closure with his friend's death and with accepting life. He runs away to Quebec in hopes of finally being able to say goodbye properly and trying to learn more about the legend behind the ring that Enko left him. Through Gil's search for answers he learns a lot about life and mortality as a whole. This is a tale of acceptance, grief, life and growing up.
The characters are not intimately written but you grow to love them. Gil grows from being the popular kid in high school to truly learning to love another person and love life. Enko is the most kind-hearted soul and only wants what's best for everyone. His death is heart wrenching to read about from both boys' places. The characters that Gil meets on his journey emulate the characters from The Epic of Gilgamesh. They teach Gil the good and the bad in life.
This book definitely still reads as if it were still an epic classic story. I honestly did not know what would come of it. I expected it to either read as a cheesy version of a classic set in a high school and be let down at the lost quality of literature. Or I expected it to rival the original too much and it just wouldn't work as a young adult book. Somehow Bauer managed to find the balance between the two perfectly. The writing isn't dumbed down in the least. It still holds all the qualities of a classic and yet is easy to read and relate to. I'm anxious to see how others take this book when it comes out. I'm worried for the automatic assumption of a gay relationship between the two boys instead of just true friendship. The writing does not explain most events or relationships, they just happen and are accepted, which is how I feel classics are written. There should be no need for an explanation or too much lead in to an occurrence. Very well done.
5 out of 5 stars, this book deserves a slot on your bookshelf amongst your classics.