The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking #1)
Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone's thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. But in a town where privacy is impossible, there is a secret so awful that Todd, still a month shy of being a man, must run for his life. But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?
My friend has been trying to get me to read this book for months, and now that I finally have, I could kick myself for not reading it sooner. I need the sequel - as close to now as is humanly possible.
The Knife of Never Letting Go feels nothing like traditional science fiction, and yet it's one of the best science fiction books I've read recently. The Noise completely sets it apart; alternately used a plot device and a part of the conflict, it helps set a well-timed pace for the action. Even better, adventure replaces the cliched loves scenes that have been cropping up in YA sci-fi. There is no love triangle!
The near-constant action and/or suspense of the book kept me reading way, way past my bedtime. I became incredibly attached to the characters very quickly (especially Manchee, the goofball). The fact that Ness managed to turn a dog - who has a vocabulary of maybe twenty words - into a complex character speaks to his brilliance. The human characters, both good and evil, were equally complex, even the ones that only appeared for a few pages. Todd himself is a great protagonist - occasionally mistaken and interesting as hell.
The awful secret Todd uncovers is somewhat predictable, but Ness added in plenty of surprises along the way. I am obliged to warn you that some of those surprises were heart-wrenching. And the book ends on a cliffhanger. Which, of course, means I'm going to be reading the sequel even sooner...
More Than This by Patrick Ness
A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . .
I have absolutely no idea what to write in this review. On one hand, I'm awed by More Than This, but on the other, I'm really disappointed by it. More Than This was a mind game of a book, and I loved that it's so incredibly not a variation on five hundred other books.
The book probably didn't need to be 470 pages long, but I was intrigued by Seth's discoveries and there was a good amount of action, so I wasn't bored. Even when nothing much was happening, in the first part of the book, there was enough mystery to be interesting. The setting was fascinating all by itself, and Seth was a great character. All of the characters were truly great. They were believable and interesting and they had developed background stories. I really loved that when Seth tells Regine and Tomazs that he's gay, they don't make a huge deal out of it and just go on trying to survive. I liked the conflict of the story, their efforts to stay alive and figure out what had happened to them. I liked the "villain." I even liked the philosophy behind the book, even though it got pretty confusing at times. I liked the thought that there's more.
So why do I feel so let down by this book?
The best reason I can come up with is that it's so damn confusing. To a point, I liked that there was an air of mystery around everything that happened in the book, but that should have been resolved in the end. I would've been okay with an ambiguous ending, but we should have been offered undeniable proof of what that abandoned, decayed world was. There was a whole lot of evidence suggesting Regine was right, but Ness kept planting seeds of doubt that maybe, just maybe, Seth really was making it all up. (I realize this paragraph is probably confusing for people who haven't read the book, but I don't want to spoil anything).
I understand that was sort of the point and whether or not the world was real didn't matter. In the beginning, that was part of what kept the book interesting. But towards the end, those seeds of doubt started to feel a little forced. There was so much evidence against the theory that it wasn't all real, I think I would have liked the book more if Ness had just said, yes, this abandoned world is real and moved on. I have no doubt that more philosophic minds than mine will appreciate the uncertainty, but to me, it felt like Ness was trying too hard to tell us that it didn't matter.
Here I am at the end of the review, and I still don't know what to rate it. Ness' writing style was haunting and well done. The characters were great, the plot was interesting. But I didn't like how it was carried out, or how the book ended. I feel like everything wrong with this book is such a matter of opinion, I can't accurately rate it. With that in mind, I'm giving More Than This three stars because, while I don't think it's average, I also didn't like it enough to rate it higher. It was very, very good, but it was missing something.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd)
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.
But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…
This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
A Monster Calls is a new mix of sorrowful cancer book and chilling horror story. This book was extraordinary, from the way it was conceived to the way it was brought to life. Just when I thought I’d figured out what was happening, something new popped up. Ness’ words, Dowd’s idea, and Jim Kay’s illustrations fill every page with suspense and mystery. It’s creepy, it’s heartfelt, and it’s heartbreaking. A Monster Calls isn’t a book to be taken lightly, and it certainly isn’t a book that turns out the way you expect.
Ex Libris, Veritas
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