Salt is an interesting sort of book; it does have a plot, but really the central point is not the setting (the planet Salt) or background, though we do see that, but a clash between two different ideologies. Roberts handles it pretty cleverly: as soon as you find yourself sympathising with one side, they do something awful. The voices are clever, too — more Barlei than Petja, because he reveals who he is and his self-satisfied, propagandist agenda with every word. I could never quite sympathise with his side of things, given that. I didn’t really side with either of them: it seemed like such a typical case of two different ways of life clashing, with no one really trying to understand the other — with the very act of trying to understand the other even being part of the problem, because they were just so incompatible.
The only place the voice really fails for me is when Rhoda Titus takes over narrating. It feels like the story just trickles to a stop there; there’s no resolution. Now, maybe the story warrants none; maybe there is none. But when you’re writing a book you can’t just let it dribble into silence in this awkward way.
It’s a clever/interesting set-up, and well-written for the most part — some of the passages about the landscape of Salt are gorgeous, and the voice of President Barlei is perfect too (unless, uh, you’re meant to like him and not see right through him). Just failed to satisfy when it comes to the ending.