It begins with the same sentence that The Knife of Never Letting Go ends with. “The End.”
Since giving away any plot points would ruin any chance at exIt begins with the same sentence that The Knife of Never Letting Go ends with. “The End.”
Since giving away any plot points would ruin any chance at experiencing this book at its best, I’m going to only speak toward my feelings and reactions towards Patrick’s writing. If they don’t convince you to start reading the Chaos Walking Trilogy, nothing will.
The Ask and the Answer throws many new challenges at both Viola and Todd. And in these new situations, the path isn’t always clear; the lines between right and wrong are blurred. More so than The Knife of Never Letting Go, the second book in the series tests Viola and Todd’s knowledge and trust of people – as well as their character. That’s what made this book more compelling for me than its predecessor.
As someone significantly older than the target audience for this book, I was really pleased to see all of the “life lessons” that Ness tried to teach through his narrative. He introduced younger audiences to both the good and the bad about politics, war, slavery, violent operatives and human behaviour (namely manipulation and torture). It is by no means an easy book to tackle but I think anyone reading it, whether in its target age group or not will really be able to open their eyes to both sides of the issue.
This novel was paced a lot slower than The Knife of Letting Go even though it had three times as many plot points. Many of the negative reviews for the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy cited its overly fast pace as one of the top reasons. The second book is much slower and really allows for a lot of character development to happen.
Ness is a master at what he does. Both of the main characters do very questionable things – but I never lost sympathy with them. Often, I thought to myself that I would make the exact same choice were I put in their situation. Another great thing about The Ask and the Answer is the way in which we learn information from characters. Things are so very subtle, they’re barely hinted at sometimes – but they can be key to understanding an upcoming plot point or the motivations of a character. I know that all authors strive to write in such a way where they show rather than telling but Ness has nearly perfected it.
The Ask and the Answer won the Costa Book Award Nominee for Children’s (2009)....more
I mostly read adult fiction. I dabble in young adult. I don’t read a lot of middle reader writing. But I thoroughly enjoyed and was surprised by WhenI mostly read adult fiction. I dabble in young adult. I don’t read a lot of middle reader writing. But I thoroughly enjoyed and was surprised by When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.
The book is about Miranda, named after the Miranda Rights, who receives four letters that end up changing her life. The story takes place in west side New York City in the year 1979. Miranda is also fixatied by A Wrinkle in Time. As such, it plays a large part in the plot and surprise of the book. I adored L’Engle as a child and was incredibly pleased to see how it worked with Miranda’s story.
When You Reach Me is one of those books where if you give away anything but the absolute minimum about the plot, you’ll lose the surprise and thrill of experiencing it yourself.
Part of why I never ventured into middle reader books was becuase I imagined the books would be overly simplistic. I like the flowery language of adult literature and the action thrills of most young adult literature. I didn’t know that middle reader had anything to really offer me. And that may not be true. When You Reach Me asks the reader to put together the puzzle alongside Miranda. But it is more than a straight-forward mystery – relying on A Wrinkle in Time and the larger story of Miranda’s friends and family.
Having little experience with middle reader, I also wasn’t sure how often science fiction and fantasy elements made it into the text. I assume it would be incredibly thrilling for younger kids, spurring on their imagination, to read science fiction – so it may be a common theme. However, what I throught was particularly clever about When You Reach Me was the way that science fiction so realistically blended into the story. It didn’t seem out of the ordinary in any way, on the contrary, it made perfect sense.
When You Reach Me is Rebecca Stead’s second novel. First Light is her first novel which came out in 2007 – if it is half as great as When You Reach Me, I’m sure I will love it.
(Also, once you read the story, the cover’s secret reveals itself to you! Very clever!)
A special thanks to Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman (of the famed Books on the Nightstand) for sending me a copy of this gorgeous book....more
I was walking through the young adult section at Elliot Bay Books, looking for worthy and work-related literature that I could immerse myself in whenI was walking through the young adult section at Elliot Bay Books, looking for worthy and work-related literature that I could immerse myself in when The City of Ember caught my eye.
DuPrau’s City of Ember is a charming story about a society of people who live in seemingly technologically inferior times. Rather than mail, they have messengers who travel the city carrying memorized messages. Rather than producing supplies, they have rations.
This society of people assign young folks jobs at the age of twelve. And our protagonist, Lina, is thankfully given the job of messenger – her ideal job – as it allows her to travel all over Ember, getting to see the sights and the people that inhabit the town.
However, Ember isn’t your usual town. It was built by mysterious folk called “the Builders” and it is slowly falling apart. The generator that supplies Ember with its electricity is creating more and more blackouts and requiring more upkeep than usual. In these hard times, Lina and her friend Doon realize that they need to help the people of Ember and get them out before they fall apart alongside their beloved city.
I thought this book was incredibly charming and well-written. It is aimed at a slightly young audience than most young adult fiction, I believe. But all in all, it was a worthwhile read. I haven’t yet gone out to purchase the next book in the series, but I imagine I will, mostly to see where it is that Lina and Doon have found themselves. Post-apocalyptic fiction always keeps me coming back for more....more
Set in Paris in the year 1931, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a gorgeous meld of graphic novel and children's story. Orphaned and living in the wallsSet in Paris in the year 1931, The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a gorgeous meld of graphic novel and children's story. Orphaned and living in the walls of a Parisian train station, Hugo is forced to live a life of secrecy and thievery. After his parents died in a fire, Hugo lived with his uncle, a drunken clock-keeper. But one day, his uncle fails to return, and it is up to Hugo to keep the clocks running and trick the inspector into thinking his uncle is still there.
However, Hugo's world quickly begins to unravel when he gets caught stealing from a toy store. The shopkeeper makes him empty out his pockets, and with them, he loses his precious notebook. Without giving too much away about the story, Selznick blends in historical fact about a filmmaker and magician, Georgies Melies. It was a great surprise to find out that the book was based on a man who really created beautiful magic on the first movie-screens.
The book looks entirely intimidating at over 500 pages. But half of them are pictures that take up two pages. Though intricate and beautiful, the illustrations are used to tell parts of the linear story rather than repeating information already presented within the narrative. Selznick is definitely onto something here!
This is recommended for anyone who enjoys young adult or children's fiction and likes gorgeous illustrations. Or just wants a really well-told and imagined story.
“The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring.”
I’m a Neil Gaiman devotee. I read his work because his writing style is so different from mine.“The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring.”
I’m a Neil Gaiman devotee. I read his work because his writing style is so different from mine. I analyze his stories and his technique as I read. And it baffles me how compelling and relevant all of his work is.
Coraline is the perfect story for a child who likes to be frightened, but only a little. Coraline is a girl with an itch to explore. And unfortunately, the house that she and her parents have moved into isn’t really the ideal place for exploring. However, she does have some incredibly eccentric neighbors. And a nice yard and foresty area - when it isn’t raining.
The story really beings when Coraline finds a small door in an unused room that, at first, seems to lead to a set of bricks. During the night, when she is sleeping, she hears noises coming, and follows them, back to the door, which mysteriously isn’t covered by bricks anymore. Behind this door she finds a world similar to hers only… much better! Her other mother and her father seem more attentive - but there is definitely something off about their eyes - because instead of eyes they have buttons sewed in.
I think this is the perfect book to read to a child over a couple of nights. It was engaging and the world that it created was believable. Coraline, as a character, is very brave and down-to-Earth; qualities I think kids enjoy reading about.
Shortly before reading this, I saw the movie in 3D - and I have to say - movie just as good as the book. It mostly stayed true to the book, however, the few changes they made enhanced the story visually. I wonder what others who’ve seen it think of it in comparison to the book....more
I remember the days when fairy tales were written only for children. Weren’t those days terrible? Gives me the shivers thinking about it. Thankfully,I remember the days when fairy tales were written only for children. Weren’t those days terrible? Gives me the shivers thinking about it. Thankfully, adults, we have Neil Gaiman, who writes them for us. I started reading Stardust only a day and a half ago - and already I am done. It wasn’t a long book, but I haven’t had much time for reading. I found myself sneaking in a few pages at every chance I got.
And so the story goes. A lovely lad named Tristran Thorne, falls in love with a gal named Victoria Forester and foolishly promises her the world and back for a kiss and her hand in marriage. Instead, Victoria wants him to bring her the star that they see fall from the sky. Tristran notes that it has fallen on the other side of the Wall, which regular townspeople aren’t allowed to cross. Little does Victoria know that Tristran is not a regular townsperson… or that the star was knocked down from the sky by a jewel, which when found, will mark the next ruler of Stormhelm. Tristran needs the star to prove his love. The brothers of Stormhelm need her to become rulers. And three evil witches need her to regain their youth. Did I mention that the star is actually a beautiful girl named Yvaine?
The story is a complex one, but by no means does it have too much going on. Everything perfectly intertwines in the end, you’ll see. What I particularly enjoyed in the book were the characters. Tristran is such an incredibly likeable and relatable character. He has the “Prince Charming” quality to him which is just plain hard to find. The boy is naive, persistent and just a little peculiar but this endears him to me. It also furthers the story in an incredibly clever way.
For anyone going to read this book, please do yourself a favor and read the edition that is graced with the wonderful illustrations by Charles Vess. According to Gaiman, after finishing each chapter, he’d call Charles up and read it to him. Charles would draw whatever he was most inspired by. And they are just exquisite.
You are sure to enjoy this tale, whether you are an adult or someone on their way to adulthood.
First Sentence: There was once a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire. ...more
i found this book, tattered and torn at my local goodwill years and years ago. my mother was there with me and she happened to see it and literally foi found this book, tattered and torn at my local goodwill years and years ago. my mother was there with me and she happened to see it and literally forced me to buy the book. i was not disappointed in any way by what i read. this book stuck with me, and at first, i almost didn't understand the depth of its message, but it hit me at a certain point. this book stays with you. ...more