The premise of the gate is a good one. I started off following along with the lead character Kiva fully invested in the story. A woman stuck on a planet ruined by humans failed attempt to fix climate change. The only viable option to live in a world where simple pleasures like the sun can be enjoyed is to go through the mysterious gate to another planet. The survival rate is low at best.
It tackles tough ideas like climate change, politics, the difference between being alive and living in an effortless and intriguing way. When I started I was loving the book. Somewhere in the middle, even though the story itself was still good it stalled. Like it was set up to go somewhere but then floated at the point just before it went.
The Gate is a short read so I was expecting a lot to be crammed into it, leaving a satisfying end but with some unanswered questions that short stories don’t have time for. Still, I felt it needed more. Like the connection between Kiva and the creator of the Gate. If he thinks she’s the only hope and they have to make sense of all this video feedback from people who made it through, why aren’t we searching for some commonalities between them before initiation, during initiation and after on their destination planets. There must be something there. Otherwise, why bring it up that he thinks this if we don’t get page time devoted solely to her efforts to do what he believes only she can do. I was waiting to see how Kiva would attack this but it never materialised.
The ending gave me Independence Day feels. Like when the guy in the truck said this might be our last day on earth and you don’t want to die a virgin. With all the emotion and me waiting for ideas and theories to solve the mystery of why so many people die in the gate, since the lead scientist made it seem oh so important for Kiva to figure out, the ending didn’t make sense. The reason it didn’t was due to lack of tension. Specifically, the kind which holds underlined ignored feelings that when faced with their last day on earth exploded out of them the way it did. Without any sort of hints this might happen it gave off ‘it happened because the author wanted it to happen’ feels. The other problem here is that without the buildup it also felt like it’s only job was to set up Kiva’s final reaction which brings me to my next point. Kiva’s revelation at the official ending after this moment.
Originally I said there is no way you could know that. Upon reflection I realised I misinterpreted my own response to this because it wasn’t a good response. No shock here, things happen. When I think of the number of situations where people were right about something purely on intuition that I have personally encountered it is mindboggling. The real issue isn’t that Kiva couldn’t know, it’s that as a reader I couldn’t know. She was set up to be the type of person who actively went out of her way to not want a connection to earth and other humans. Someone who did not want to bring a child into this earth she knew and took steps to ensure this wouldn’t happen. There wasn’t enough page time to convince a reader to get on board with the end. The situation with the three main characters had no subtle lead-ins, then this resulted, and the book was over. Her reaction to it in the final pages was such a shift from all her previous thinking when Kiva was desperately trying to get to the gate that my brain immediately said that it wasn’t possible for something I know is possible to have happened, to happen.
For this to sell more delving into her psyche and her veneer of only wanting to escape earth slowly slipping away into something deeper would’ve sold the ending a million times over. To do this some sort of strong bond would also have to be built between her and the two characters to sell the event that transpired between them which this final revelation is a direct result of. The weight of the ending fell on believing this had happened but mostly on believing Kiva was the type of person who would think/react like this. Unfortunately most readers would need proof. It’s such a deep, emotional and personal connection to Kiva that challenges everything we are lead to believe about her and without proper setup, anyone who doesn’t believe it’s possible won’t be able to get on board and even people who do, like myself, may temporarily forget it’s possible.
The Gate was an enjoyable read, however after such good drama, character development and build-up to the singular moment of Kiva being told she was the one believed able to come up with a solution to save more lives, it didn’t live up to that type of plot hype. The way it reads now left me thinking it could’ve used another few chapters in the middle, still a short story but just a little bit longer.
All of that being said, if you’re looking for a short read with the capacity to keep your mind entertained this book achieved that goal. It was well written and the premise behind it worked for me. It was easy to follow and understand and is definitely worth an hour or two of reading enjoyment. For me, it seemed to fizzle out once Kiva made it to the gate and wasn’t the scifi adventure I was expecting.
Side note: There are no chapters in this book. Sections are separated with a page break symbol. It made it hard to navigate when I went to write this review cause I couldn’t click on the chapters. I hit the menu bar and the table of contents tab so many times I thought something was wrong with my kindle when nothing happened. Took me a bit to realise it wasn’t the device. It’s a short read but it was a bit challenging to try and whip through the book to certain parts without a working TOC.