I don’t know if I could ever adequately put into words the way I feel about this book. Especially not now, so soon after finishing. TThis book. Oh my.
I don’t know if I could ever adequately put into words the way I feel about this book. Especially not now, so soon after finishing. This book made me feel every emotion on the spectrum. Countless times I set it aside suddenly, afraid or sad or stressed, only to pick it up again a few minutes later.
The very first thing I ever heard about this series was that the ending was amazing. I was a skeptic, but now I believe.
The journey is complex, frustrating, terrifying, amazing. You can’t flirt with these books. They cannot be set aside, temporarily forgotten, and resumed when convenient, but oh, is it worth it.
Other Things I Liked/Reasons You Should Read
1. Todd! This is the Todd that brought an army across the human expanse of new world. He is perfectly human, far from infallible. His struggles against power and the desire for it, the constant questioning of his choices, the way he’s unable to not care… I loved him so much despite his glaring imperfections. In the end, I found him to be a very refreshing character. He’s a protagonist who agonizes about doing the right thing and is self-aware enough to know he can’t always be. I didn’t know that I needed a character like Todd to stand out amidst a sea of characters who don’t stop to think about what they’re doing or don’t ever question the rightness of their actions. But I do.
2. Viola! I didn’t really know how I felt about Viola until this book happened. Sure, she was brave. I cared about her through Todd, and I knew she cared about him. There were moments in The Ask and the Answer, though, that worried me, and those moments continued into Monsters. I saw her doubts and her fears, and I worried she would turn her back on him when it mattered most. In the end, the choices Viola makes are really powerful, especially because of the way she struggles with the changes she sees in Todd. Viola as a character is just refreshing as Todd. She neither clings to a past image of Todd nor turns away from him completely when he acts in a way she can’t accept. She wrestles to reconcile the boy she knew and the boy he becomes and, in my opinion, the most powerful scene the book belongs to her.
3. Multi-faceted conflict. I raved about this in Ask and it’s different and still wonderful in Monsters. The conflict expands from a very complex mostly-two-sided affair into a web of diverse interests. Todd and Viola, intent upon peace, are forced to work within systems and with people that are not necessarily interested in the same. I think Ness’ portrayal of war is masterful. Even minor characters, who could easily become two-dimensional players within the conflict have their own motivations and make choices that ripple and bleed into the main narrative.
4. Relationships. This is really a lasting theme throughout the series but one I only started dwelling on in the last book. I think too often relationships are over-simplified in books, in general, but especially young-adult books. I think Ness does a beautiful job of showing the reality of relationships: their power, their messiness, the way they change for good and for bad. I feel like all three narrators see the complexities in others, even if not right away, eventually. They feel the need for revenge, they’re afraid, but they also understand it’s not so simple.
Why didn’t I give this book 5 stars? I don’t know that I won’t go back and change it, maybe when the swarm of emotions I have about it die down and I’m thinking more objectively about the story and the characters and not just about the fact that it’s over and there’s still so much more I want to know. Don’t get me wrong, the ending is good. It’s satisfying. But there’s the lingering feeling of not being ready to let go. ...more
I finished The Knife of Never Letting Go in early November. It took me another few weeks to purchase this book, and I didn't start reading it until JaI finished The Knife of Never Letting Go in early November. It took me another few weeks to purchase this book, and I didn't start reading it until January. Despite feeling very positively about Knife in the end, I spent most of the book calling Todd an idiot and being annoyed by him. And so, I put this book off, not realizing the brilliance I was missing out on.
Don't get me wrong. Our boy Todd is still Todd. Sometimes he's dense as a block of lead. He's still angry. He still does things that make me want to shake him. But.
I think one of the brilliant things about a whole book before of knowing Todd and having Todd grow on you (very slowly, like a moss) is that it's so much easier to empathize with him in this story than it was during Knife. I found myself a couple times actually willing him not to figure something out, just because I knew it would be exploited later. And when I caught myself doing this, it was kind of mind-blowing. So I bow down to Patrick Ness and his ability to write a character that I can very nearly hate for at least half a book, grudgingly like for another half, and then totally understand and care about for the entire second book of the series.
Other Things I Liked/Reasons You Should Read It (Or Read Knife So That You Can Read This
1. The conflict was so complex. I loved the overall acknowledgement and self-awareness of the main characters in regards to this. It was very easy to see what was wrong and basically impossible to figure out what was right. I cannot remember exactly where it happened, so I'm not going to try to hunt it down, but there's a place where Todd thinks something along the lines of "Why is the choice between two evils at all?" I thought that moment was perfect. He spends exactly one second on the philosophical implications of choosing the lesser of two evils and that's literally all he thinks about it. Because those are his options, his constraints.
2. Villain characterization was superb. The villains in Knife were pretty two-dimensional. Aaron was the crazy dude trying to get Todd to kill him and the Mayor was the crazy dude chasing Todd with an army. All the bad people were just crazy. This book does an excellent job as portraying the villains as people who are zealously committed to their cause and willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it.
3. The POV switching is (mostly) not annoying. Normally I hate this. Almost no one does it well, in my opinion. But even as POV-curmudgeony as I am, I have to admit that a) It wouldn't have been the same book if we stayed with Todd's POV the whole time (and more importantly, it wouldn't have been as amazing a story) and b) It did not make me angry. When I hit the first POV-switch, I may have actually groaned and sighed dramatically, but I actually looked forward to finding out what was going on with the other person [not going to spoil it] and could appreciate what it was adding to my experience of the novel. My two caveats here: I thought the scene near the end where the POV was switching multiple times per page was super annoying and unnecessary. Sometimes I felt like the other narrator's style was a little too similar to Todd's. I would've liked it to be more distinctive.
In conclusion, absolutely stunning book, in case my five stars don't speak enough for themselves. It has left me in that uncertain place where I would like to immediately pick up Monsters of Men and get to work devouring it while also being terrified of what's going to happen and whether it can maintain the momentum/amazingness of The Ask and the Answer.
Also, PS, do I sense an impending love triangle? I really, really, really hope not. That's the one thing that could ruin this entire thing for me....more
Wonder is a book that made me (very briefly) want to be a middle school English teacher, just for the experience of getting this book in the hands ofWonder is a book that made me (very briefly) want to be a middle school English teacher, just for the experience of getting this book in the hands of kids and getting to hear them talk about it.
It's also the kind of book that makes me wish (also very briefly) that I could go back to the 5th grade version of myself and say, "Here, read this." Not that I can particularly remember being unkind to anyone, but just to have the experience of reading it while being an early middle schooler, who - like most early middle schoolers, I imagine - was struggling with the idea of fitting in and being liked.
This book is a worthwhile read, if only for its messages about empathy. But it's also so much more. It's a great story. It's moving and uplifting and hopeful. Auggie is a great and well-written character. He knows he's just an ordinary kid while also recognizing and hating the things that make him different. He acknowledges that people are going to react to seeing him while wishing they wouldn't. There was something so genuine about him that I absolutely loved.
I also loved Auggie's sister, Via, whose perspective was very honest as well. Her struggle to make her own place in the world while deeply loving and protecting her younger brother was just as moving to me as August's journey. I valued her insights in the story immensely.
I enjoyed all of the narrators in the story, though I would have been perfectly happy with only Auggie and Via. There were some problematic details in the story: for example, that every ten-year-old in the story seemed to have a crush on/date someone except for Auggie (also Auggie's fourteen-year-old sister had a way-too-serious boyfriend). I also thought the ending scene was a little weird, but I'm willing to give this book the benefit of the doubt since I'm far older than its intended audience.
So, read it. If you're a kid or you know a kid or you just like a good story. I think we could all stand a reminder to be a little kinder than is necessary....more
Perhaps in the future I will be able to coherently describe why this book is amazing. Being as how I only finished reading it 45 minutes ago, this isPerhaps in the future I will be able to coherently describe why this book is amazing. Being as how I only finished reading it 45 minutes ago, this is all I can muster:
I bought this book on a whim after the recommendation of a friend, and I literally could not put it down. I meant to just read a few chapters before bI bought this book on a whim after the recommendation of a friend, and I literally could not put it down. I meant to just read a few chapters before bed, but I ended up waking up the next morning and finishing it. The characters are believable and complex; I was invested in them from the beginning. Even though I had a good idea what would happen from the beginning of the story, this didn't take away from the experience. This is a must read....more