Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness

Everyone in Prentisstown can hear everyone else's thoughts in the form of raucous, overwhelming Noise - there is no space for privacy, secrets, or silence. But one day, deep in the swamp, Todd Hewitt and his dog find an area of complete quiet, which is completely unheard of. Slowly, Todd beings to suspect that Prentisstown has a history different from the one Todd has been taught, and this history drives Todd and Manchee to flee for their lives. The only problem? It's hard to run when there's nowhere to go and everyone can hear you think.

The Knife of Never Letting Gothe first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, was recommended to me a couple weeks ago by Michelle (a.k.a. Clover) of Fluttering Butterflies. If I liked the Hunger Games series, she said, I'd like the The Knife of Never Letting Go. I immediately put the book (which was, of course, checked out) on hold at my local library, and it came in a few days ago. Michelle, you were definitely very absolutely extremely correct. The Knife of Letting Go is the perfect book for anyone who likes the Hunger Games trilogy - and, for that matter, anyone else.

Like most people invested in the Hunger Games books, I cried while reading Mockingjay. However, I was suprised to find that I cried even more during The Knife of Never Letting Go. Does that make me a bad Hunger Games fan? Anyway, The Knife of Letting Go is absolutely amazing (though not because it made me cry - that does not, in my opinion, define a good book). Todd, who narrates the book, cannot read or write, and I thought at first that his dialect might detract from my experience. However, it became more natural and less noticeable over time, and I didn't really have any issue with all the "ain't"-ing. Todd and Manchee were both very likeable, and I thought Ness did an excellent job of portraying what dogs would say if they could talk. The plot was excellent - fast-paced, fairly complex, and utterly engaging. The Knife of Letting Go was, for me, one of those books where you completely and entirely forget what's going on around you and are wholly absorbed into the story. The book accurately portrays the costs of war while not being too overwhelmingly depressing, and leaves the reader wanting more. 

Now, I need to go finish my homework so I can get started on The Ask and the Answer!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One Day - David Nicholls

On July 15, 1988, Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew meet for the first time the day before their college graduation. Though they know that they will probably never see each other again after they graduate, neither can stop thinking of the other, and they stay connected over the years, developing a unique relationship. One Day chronicles this relationship, checking in on Em and Dex on July 15 of every year from 1988 onward.

I thought the premise of this book was very interesting and, at least to me, unusual. However, I did think it might be confusing to only "see" characters one day every year, and I was afraid that might make me enjoy the book less. However, Nicholls does very well in keeping the reader unconfused - while I didn't know everything that had happened to the characters at every point in the book, I was not in the least confused. Rather, I was captivated by the way that Emma and Dexter changed over the years, and yet remained the same people they were when they first met. I did experience a lull in the plot somewhere in the middle of the book. While I was still interested in what was going on, it just wasn't as exciting for me for 50 pages or so. Now that I think about it, though, that might be a good thing; I'm not sure that all-excitement-all-the-time would have been good for this particular book.

Also, I should mention that while I rarely very rarely very, very, extremely rarely cry while reading a book, I came very close toward the end of One Day. I won't say what happens, but there is one very touching scene that particularly affected me - luckily, though, I didn't cry, as I was in the middle of my library media class at school, which is not the best place in the world to start bawling. (Though my friend did start crying in there over Mockingjay...so I guess it wouldn't be a first.) Anyway, I absolutely loved One Day. It's unique and readable and interesting (and not depressing, so don't get that idea), and I've already recommended it to several people. If it sounds interesting at all, I'd encourage you to pick it up.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Adoration of Jenna Fox - Mary E. Pearson

Jenna Fox has just woken up from a year-long coma. She does not remember anything about her personal life - her parents (assuming that they are her parents, because she can't remember them) tell her what her name is, tell her that she was in a terrible accident, and they give her videos of her life to watch, but she doesn't remember being the little girl on the screen. Slowly, bits and pieces of Jenna's memory begin to come back. But along with those memories, Jenna has questions about what really happened to her, and no one wants to give her answers. 

I found the beginning of The Adoration of Jenna Fox somewhat confusing, but that was because Jenna is also very confused about what's going on and, for that matter, who she really is. And, aside from anything else, the book is very gripping. I read it in two hours straight, and had no desire to pause at any point during the book. The Adoration of Jenna Fox was almost like a suspense novel in that it had twist after turn throughout most of the book, but it didn't feel rushed or too fast-paced to me.

I was very pleasantly surprised with The Adoration of Jenna Fox - it was one of those books that I chose in the library because it had a pretty cover and looked halfway interesting, but I'm extremely glad I picked it up, and I look forward to reading more of Pearson's writing.

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay is the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, the first two books of which were The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Unlike most of my reviews, this one is going to have spoilers, because I just don't know how to write about Mockingjay without writing about important plot events. However, I will only write spoilers for The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. So if you've read the first two but not Mockingjay, you'll be fine. If not, you've been warned.

At the end of Catching Fire, Katniss has managed to make it out of two successive Hunger Games alive. Despite this, she's still not safe, as the Capitol wants revenge - and full control of the districts, most of which have truly begun to revolt. President Snow blames this on Katniss, and she is driven along a path not entirely of her own making as she tries to protect not just herself, but everyone she loves.

There is a LOT of death in this book. I know some people found this discouraging and hated the book because of it. However, this was not the case with me. While Mockingjay was certainly not a cheery novel, I liked it better for its accurate depiction of war and the consequences of war. The characters in the series are not black or white, good or bad - they are all shades of gray, and that is even more true in Mockingjay. There were times when I absolutely hated Katniss and some of the other characters for the choices they made, but I did not empathize with them any more or less. The characters in the Hunger Games series are portrayed as humans, just like you or I, and the circumstances they are put in are believable in the context of human nature. This is my favorite thing about Collins's writing, and yet it is what made the books so painful at times. Mockingjay is a brilliant book, but it is not escape fiction by any means. Read it, by all means, but don't expect it to cheer you up.