I finished this book almost a week ago, and I have been putting off thinking about it ever since. I don't know if I'll ever be able to separate readinI finished this book almost a week ago, and I have been putting off thinking about it ever since. I don't know if I'll ever be able to separate reading it from the slurry of emotions that surround the ending of the series in my memory, but I think that's okay.
This is the book in the series that I felt most differently about after finishing, which I was not expecting. I thought I basically had this book down in my mind realistically. I mean, I remembered all the sad parts and they were still sad. I remembered my burning hatred of the epilogue, and that was still there, too. What I'd never noticed or experienced so emotionally was everything in between. I really felt, on this read, the stress of their wandering around, trying to figure out what to do. I anguished over that along with them, and all the pages of "nothing happening" really came alive for me. It was unexpected and really interesting, and it made the process of reading the book much slower than any other book due to constant emotions.
Even despite constant emotions, the emotionally heavy-hitting moments were still really powerful. The scene where Harry leaves the Headmaster's office to go into the woods lead to me shamefully crying in the kitchen while trying to make dinner. I wish I could beautifully describe all the things that part of the story makes me feel, because it is such a sad, amazing, perfect moment of acceptance
This readthrough I was also surprised at how annoyed I got with Ron and Hermione. While not being a fan (at all) of that relationship, I don't ever remember being bothered by them in this book. This time, I was. I just kept yelling, "What??? Don't you two realize how important this is?! What are you doing?!" at them. I get that there were burgeoning feelings or whatever, but I felt like they wasted an inordinate amount of energy on them, when they should've been supporting Harry.
Really, I can't think of a better ending to the Harry Potter series (other than the removal of the epilogue). JK Rowling is a genius. That is all. ...more
This is not one of my favorite books in the Potter series: between Lockhart (and Hermione's infatuation with him), Dobby, who doesn't grow on me untilThis is not one of my favorite books in the Potter series: between Lockhart (and Hermione's infatuation with him), Dobby, who doesn't grow on me until somewhere around book 4, my eternal frustration and pity over poor Ron and his broken wand (how do no teachers notice/offer to help the Weasleys find a way to get him a new and/or working wand for an entire school year??) and Harry getting accused of anything and everything that's not remotely his fault. There are fewer lighthearted moments. Harry is shuffling from one hardship to the next, and it's so much more depressing when I think of him coming from a mostly-great year and then having that terrible summer and following school year. Sometimes life is hard, especially if you're Harry Potter.
This book, of course, does have some shining moments. I love seeing Hermione's bravery shining through, from her taking charge of the Polyjuice potion (and all the rule-breaking contained therein) to running to the library to confirm her suspicions about the monster when Harry had literally just heard it. The ending in the chamber of secrets is a masterpiece among surprising reveals. While this will never be my favorite, it will always still be amazing. ...more
While I have read this book at least a dozen times in the sixteen years since I first picked it up, this is my first reread of the series since 2008.While I have read this book at least a dozen times in the sixteen years since I first picked it up, this is my first reread of the series since 2008. I've been hoping to do a reread for a while, but I was also nervous. Would these books stand the test of time, or was their magic for only my younger self?
I still found this book relevant and hugely enjoyable, even though there are parts I can quote from memory. The story telling is superb, and I still love that the truth of what's going on at Hogwarts is so much more complex than Harry believes. It's such a good picture of the beginning of Harry's coming-of-age, starting to see the world for what it is and understand what his place in it will be.
Also interesting is seeing the characters through the eyes of a teacher, which maybe anyone can do after they become and adult and read this book. I am a teacher, so maybe I'm biased. I spent a lot of time thinking about Harry's interactions with his teachers (mostly Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape in this book) and how the things they say and do impact his thinking. Particularly, at the end, I thought a lot about how Dumbledore tells Harry that the his relationship with Draco mirrors James' relationship with Snape and how that might legitimize to Harry the dislike between them and set the stage for their relationship to continue to deteriorate throughout the series.
In the past, I gave this book only four stars, mostly because there are books in the series that I enjoy more than this one. However, upon further thought, I can find nothing to complain about that might reduce its rating in my eyes. ...more
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: