Patrick Ness The Knife of Never Letting Go 479 pp. Candlewick Press. 2008 ISBN:978-0-7636-4576-2 (High School)
Have you ever wished you could read other...morePatrick Ness The Knife of Never Letting Go 479 pp. Candlewick Press. 2008 ISBN:978-0-7636-4576-2 (High School)
Have you ever wished you could read other people’s minds? After reading The Knife of Never Letting Go you will probably change your mind. Todd Hewitt lives in New World, and like all the men in Prentisstown, he contracted the disease that enables him to hear the Noise. This Noise is other men and animals’ thoughts; it is never quiet, even when they sleep. One day while Todd and his dog Manchee are wandering through the swamp, they hear something scary and unusual, they hear silence. There’s something dangerous about the silence that forces Todd to run for his life, leave everything he knows, and learn horrible truths about Prentisstown and the Noise. Patrick Ness’s dystopian novel is a clever mix of humor, suspense, action and drama. Not long after a particularly intense section does a character like Manchee provide some comic relief. Ness has crafted this novel into not only a journey for truth, but a journey for manhood and what that word really means. S.A. (less)
Exciting. Gripping. Thrilling. These are the best words I can use to describe the awesome that is Insurgent by Ve...moreReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
Exciting. Gripping. Thrilling. These are the best words I can use to describe the awesome that is Insurgent by Veronica Roth.
Let me say first, that if it’s been a while since you’ve read Divergent then I recommend either re-reading the whole book or at least the last few chapters because Insurgent starts right where Divergent left off. There aren’t any recaps either. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Insurgent, but let me tell you I wasn’t disappointed! We’re thrown right back into the chaos we were left with and I couldn’t stop reading. I think I was about 60 pages in and then BAM! Major action was happening all around. It was exciting and non-stop action. I sat there, awe-struck and completely engrossed the entire time I was reading. In some ways Insurgent reminded me of Mockingjay in the way the tone changed from Divergent to Insurgent. It’s not dismal and depressing like Mockingjay was, but Insurgent has more of an intense urgency to it. Thankfully Roth allowed us some breaks from the action and intensity with scenes full of well-done humor and romance.
I positively love Tris’s character, and in Insurgent we see a different side of Tris—a more vulnerable side. She’s still reeling from the death of her parents and suffering over the fact that she killed Will. These deaths haunt her for most of the novel and affect her personality. She’s not as tough, but she’s still stubborn, adventurous, brave, and reckless (reckless according to Tobias). We also witness how loyal she is, even if at times she and others question her loyalty. Tris begins to learn who she really is in Insurgent. In Divergent she was still figuring that out, especially since she switched factions. I often worried about Tris, but ultimately I’ve grown to love her character even more because of her supposed weakness which results in immense character growth. You have to love a protagonist that can overcome her demons.
I don’t want to give anything away, but I can’t write this review without mentioning Tobias. I still love his character, and I still love him and Tris together. All I will say is that it’s rocky between Tris and Tobias and I admire Veronica Roth for how she handled their relationship. She kept it real and didn’t add any extra unnecessary dramatics like so many authors do. That is all :)
It’s been a week since I finished Insurgent, and my mind is still reeling over everything we learn. Tris finds out so much more about what it means to be Divergent, but the ending left me with even more questions when I thought many were answered. But not only am I questioning things about the Divergents, I’m wondering about Amity and Abnegation. Veronica Roth blew my mind with the ending which is the biggest reason I’m reeling and slightly incoherent. I need to know more about ALL OF THE THINGS that I can’t discuss b/c it would spoil the book. But ALL OF THE THINGS are exciting and mind-boggling and discussion worthy. Seriously, read Divergent if you haven’t already so you can read Insurgent and enjoy the awesome!(less)
READ THIS BOOK! Would it be okay to stop there? Because seriously, WOW! I’m still reeling and it’s been probably 8 hours since I finished. I can’t get...moreREAD THIS BOOK! Would it be okay to stop there? Because seriously, WOW! I’m still reeling and it’s been probably 8 hours since I finished. I can’t get Tris and Four out of my head! How much longer until Insurgent comes out? I know I’m rambling and maybe not making much sense, but Divergent is so amazing it will do that to you.
When I initially heard about Divergent it was being compared to The Hunger Games. I was impressed but skeptical because it seems like all dystopian novels are being compared to that trilogy. While Divergent definitely lives up to the hype, I wouldn’t exactly compare it to The Hunger Games. I’m sure if you like that trilogy, you’ll enjoy Divergent. Tris, like Katniss, is a strong female protagonist that male and female readers will like and probably relate to. Other similarities are uncovering secrets, being separated from family, survival, problems with government, etc. The story lines are so different, though, it’s hard for me to really think of them as comparable. Hopefully that makes some sense.
One of my favorite aspects about this book is that we get to know Tris so well via the initiation tests. We learn her physical and emotional strengths and weaknesses. We watch her utilize her strengths and try to overcome her weaknesses. It’s not very often that a reader gets to know a character so thoroughly. We get to know her trainer, Four, pretty well also; not quite like Tris, but close. I think that’s why I’m still thinking about both of them–I developed strong connection with these characters.
Learning the ways of a faction that’s new to her, Tris does enjoy some victories through initiation, like being the first jumper, but she suffers through so many losses and obstacles. This, however, makes the story that much more compelling. The faction she joins is so different from what she grew up in, that it’d be impossible not to suffer and face challenges. She wants to be brave, battles with being selfless, and constantly thinks of what her mother or father would say about her actions. I can’t imagine just up and leaving my entire upbringing behind, to learn a brand new way of thinking, acting, and living. As Tris goes through all of this, I cheered, cringed and cried.
I realize this review is lacking some meat about the story. I want to delve into the big plot points, but they’ll end up being spoilers. Take my word for it, this is an awesome book that’s so worth reading.(less)
Tahereh Mafi has written a wonderful debut that will appeal to fans of paranormal fantasy, dystopian, and romance. Her lyrical writing stands out and...moreTahereh Mafi has written a wonderful debut that will appeal to fans of paranormal fantasy, dystopian, and romance. Her lyrical writing stands out and breaks the rules, but it works and drew me in.
There’s so much I love about Tahereh Mafi’s writing. First of all, I’m completely intrigued by her use of numbers. Not only does she incorporate specific numbers like Juliette going 6,336 hours since touching another person, she also almost always uses the numeric value instead of writing the number(s) out. I haven’t been able to find any interviews where she explains this, so if you know of any explanation I’d love to know about it. I enjoyed how Juliette crosses out some of her thoughts. Some readers may not enjoy this, but as Juliette grows more confident in herself, she does this less and less. Mafi takes many liberties in her writing. Many of her sentences lack punctuation, but it works because it adds more emphasis to Juliette’s words.
For readers that enjoy a steamy romance, Shatter Me is definitely for them! There’s crazy tension between Juliette and Adam. Much of this tension comes from Juliette’s strong desire to touch Adam while also being in fear of him and the possibility of touching him. Part of Juliette’s power makes it dangerous to touch her, which often left me thinking of Rogue from X-Men (one of my favorite X-Men characters). At times I questioned Adam’s intentions, especially since there’s this instant love or attraction between the two of them. Eventually I was able to look past any doubts in their instant attraction and enjoyed the tension between the characters. I do have to admit that Adam won me over.
I enjoyed Shatter Me as a dystopian, even with the paranormal elements, but I was disappointed by the stronger focus on the romance over the world building. The summary is a little misleading because it’s focusing on her power and confusion over the romance, yet so much of Juliette’s focus is on Adam and Warner’s obsession with her. This may turn off some readers looking for a plot with lots of action and dystopian elements. Those elements are there, but they aren’t as prevalent until closer to the end of the story. We also only get snippets of Juliette’s abilities which I hope become more of a focus in the second and third books. I see a lot of potential for this trilogy in all aspects of the story. I just hope the rest of the trilogy explains more about The Reestablishment and Juliette’s powers. (less)
After reading The Obsidian Blade, I think it's safe to say that I enjoy sci-fi novels. I'm not sure how I feel about the focus on religion, but it's c...moreAfter reading The Obsidian Blade, I think it's safe to say that I enjoy sci-fi novels. I'm not sure how I feel about the focus on religion, but it's certainly something to think about and discuss, so I'm considering adding this to my YA II sci-fi unit as a choice book. The audio is done well; I like Joshua Swanson as the narrator of this story more than I liked him narrating Out of the Pocket. (less)
This is such a fun book to read. I love the dialect, the pacing, the characters, and even the lack of punctuation around the dialgoue. I would like a...moreThis is such a fun book to read. I love the dialect, the pacing, the characters, and even the lack of punctuation around the dialgoue. I would like a little more from Saba's character. She's awesome and tough, but I didn't feel like I really knew her as well as I should have.(less)
I added Enclave to my list of books to read because Ann Aguirre is a debut author and it’s dystopian. It’s a quick read that’s dark and enjoyable. On...moreI added Enclave to my list of books to read because Ann Aguirre is a debut author and it’s dystopian. It’s a quick read that’s dark and enjoyable. On the cover it says it’s a good choice for fans of The Hunger Games, but I honestly didn’t feel the connection between both books. Enclave reminds me more of Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth and parts also reminded me of Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go. I’m not a fan of Carrie Ryan’s book, so I guess it’s odd that I liked this book as much as I did.
The characters are developed well, which I always appreciate in a book that’s beginning a trilogy or series. Deuce has lived a sheltered life underground, with the desire to become a Huntress. She’s paired up with Fade, who was an outsider, but welcomed to the enclave because he was able to survive outside it. I enjoyed their interactions because Deuce is able to learn more about the world outside the enclave, which in turn uncovers some truths about her life inside the enclave. Fade is able to provide this knowledge. Fade’s definitely a leader, but he doesn’t dominate over Deuce which would have made her appear weak and fragile. This is a book with a tough female protagonist that knows how to protect herself and survive. I’m not the biggest fan of Stalker, although I am curious about his role in book two.
The Freaks are an interesting part of the book. I thought of them more like zombies than anything else. I’m not a fan of zombies (Team Unicorn all the way!), so again, I’m surprised that addition of Freaks didn’t change my feelings towards the book. Thinking about it now, this book would pair well with the movie I Am Legend. Thankfully, Ann Aguirre didn’t make the story revolve around the Freaks. Enclave is more about survival in a “new” world and self-discovery.
There’s a great balance of action and character/world building. The ending wraps up nicely and thankfully isn’t a cliffhanger. If you’re looking for a different kind of dystopian (this is apocolyptic) and connecting with strong characters, definitely pick this up. My book club chose this book and we’re discussing it on Friday. I’m looking forward to what they have to say! (less)
This is a book that despite a few things that bothered me, kept me reading and intrigued. I enjoyed the dynamics of the sister wives Rhine, Cecily and...moreThis is a book that despite a few things that bothered me, kept me reading and intrigued. I enjoyed the dynamics of the sister wives Rhine, Cecily and Jenna. Rhine is a strong character that breaks the mold of the damsel in distress that continues to reappear in many YA novels. Don’t get me wrong, she’s certainly in distress. I mean, she’s been kidnapped and forced to marry a man she doesn’t know or want to know. But she isn’t whining away and refusing to take action. Instead, Rhine schemes to escape from her husband Linden and his father, the creepy and cruel Housemaster Vaughn. She also refuses to consumate her relationship with Linden. Overall, Rhine is a character that’s easy to like and read.
My favorite aspect of the book was the relationship between Rhine, Cecily and Jenna. We don’t really get to see how Cecily and Jenna are on their own or when they’re with Linden, so in order to know them we have to rely on their interactions with Rhine. Cecily is the youngest of the trio, barely a teenager. Honestly, this really disturbed me–especially when she becomes pregnant. I’m assuming Lauren wanted this reaction from the reader because it really portrays how desperate everyone’s life has become. Cecily is also incredibly demanding and bratty, but this comes with her immaturity and inexperience. Her behavior, while tiring to read at times, did add some humor and complexity to the story. Jenna is detached from those around her because of her history. Despite this, she is who Rhine becomes closest too. She’s the oldest and closest to dying, so she’ll risk more in order to help Rhine uncover some secrets and try to escape.
One of the things I didn’t like is how much was left unresolved. I understand that this is the first in a series, but it felt like I was reading a really long prologue. Rhine is determined to find and reconnect with her brother, but we never receive any kind of hint or clue or anything as to if that will even happen or how he is. Housemaster Vaughn is described as being cruel and sinister. Rhine discovers some scary, troubling things in the basement involving Vaughn which I know plays a bigger role in the overall story. The problem I have is that nothing is developed, it’s only alluded to in order to build suspense. And it worked, because I kept predicting how it might affect the story. I was disappointed when I didn’t learn anything new by the end of the book.
As reviews for Wither have popped up, I’ve seen many readers comparing this to The Handmaid’s Tale. I haven’t read this book, but since hearing about it and looking it up, I’d like to read it and make some comparisons. I’m adding this ARC to my classroom library tomorrow and plan on buying a finished copy when it releases because I predict it will be popular with my girls. I had a few hang-ups, but overall I really enjoyed reading Wither. And I love the cover! I found myself flipping back to it while reading because seemingly small details on the cover held more significance the more I read. I enjoy Lauren DeStefano’s writing and I look forward to book two.
Before I really get going on my review, I think I should let you know what my students think. They’re the target audience, so their thoughts count the...moreBefore I really get going on my review, I think I should let you know what my students think. They’re the target audience, so their thoughts count the most in my opinion! My students are interviewing Angie for my Students Want to Know feature, and I received a few ARCs from a publicist for them to read before asking questions. I handed the ARCs out to my freshmen to read before me. Wow! After a couple freshmen in my 1st hour read it, they couldn’t stop talking about it. “Is there going to be a second one?!” “Oh my gosh, the ending?! Wow!” “We should read this as a class, Mrs. Andersen.” So yeah, my students positively LOVE Memento Nora. And these excited students were actually some of my quieter kids in class.
Many times while reading this I thought of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series. This story isn’t nearly as futuristic, but there are some similar properties like society being overly consumer-driven and forced to forget certain memories. Honestly, I enjoyed Memento Nora ten times more than the Uglies series. I turned bored quickly with that series. I don’t see myself getting bored with Angie’s stories because she’s edgier, a smart writer, and she’s developed great characters!
One of the things my students and I both like is the underground comic. My kids really got on board with this and even said they could picture kids doing that in our school. I do wish that we could actually see some of the comics while reading–it’d be so cool to see what Micah draws!
This is a really smart book that will hook readers right away. Would you take the little white pill to forget a painful memory? It’d be tempting, I’m sure. But then who would we be without our painful memories? Don’t we learn from those? The world can’t be “glossy” all the time, and this is something that Norah, Micah and Winter understand. My students wanted to discuss whether this sort of thing could happen in the future, considering the War on Terror.
The story is told effortlessly from all three points of view, which gives us a good grasp of who each character is. We read mostly from Norah’s perspective which I like because she’s new to the Memento comic scene, so we learn about it with her.
If you’re a fan of the dystopian genre, make sure to add Memento Nora to your to read list. It’s a thought-provoking, exciting story that teens and adults alike are sure to enjoy!(less)
When I saw Across the Universe sitting in the Penguin booth at NCTE I was beyond giddy. I’ve heard wonderful things about this debut, and I continue t...moreWhen I saw Across the Universe sitting in the Penguin booth at NCTE I was beyond giddy. I’ve heard wonderful things about this debut, and I continue to hear/read wonderful reviews. Overall I enjoyed it, but it didn’t measure up to my expectations. Because I’m having a hard time with this review, I’m going to set it up differently. I’m going to first focus on what worked for me and then what didn’t work for me.
What Worked for Me:
First of all, I love the idea behind this novel. In the beginning of the ARC (I’m not sure if it’s in the published copy), Beth Revis states that she wrote this with the school district she taught for in mind. Many of her students had never left the district and many of her students had dreams of leaving the district; they were still trapped, like the people on the ship. I also teach in a small district with similar students, so I could relate to this. Not everyone aboard Godspeed is aware of how claustrophobic it is, but the reader is certainly aware of this. Beth did a fantastic job creating the setting and the sense of not having any space.
I also enjoyed reading the story from both Amy and Elder’s perspectives. Amy is new to the ship and only knows Earth and its ways. Elder was born on the ship and hasn’t felt a need to really question much about his life. All of this changes when the two meet because Amy instantly notices the strange rules, customs and behaviors. Because Amy and Elder grow close, Elder in turn also notices these things and begins questioning Eldest and Godspeed for the very first time. It’s a wonderful way to heighten the story.
Another plus, which goes along with both points I just mentioned, is that I know my students will enjoy reading Across the Universe. When I book talk this with them I’m going to read the letter at the beginning of the book to hear my students’ reactions. I’m sure it will also gain their interest. The first chapter, which is from Amy’s point-of-view, is a great way to hook readers. It goes through the process of being cryogenically frozen– way fun to read! I’m happy with the double perspective because this book will appeal to both my male and female readers, which is always a plus in my world :) My students will enjoy the numerous secrets and their truths, the fact that it’s set in the future, etc.
What Didn’t Work for Me:
Whenever I read a piece of YA, I’m always focusing on the characters. While I enjoyed reading both Amy and Elder, I didn’t feel that either of them really grew as characters. Amy wasn’t really any different at the end of the book than she was at the beginning of the book. She came to grips about her parents and being alone, but that was about it. Elder changed a bit himself as he tried to grow into a leader. I just wish both characters had been fleshed out a bit more. Along with that, the tagline mentions this as a story of love, but I never felt Amy and Elder’s love grow. They had a moment in the middle of the book, and Elder often commented on her beauty and his feelings. Honestly, I thought Amy and Harley’s relationship developed more than Amy and Elder’s.
Across the Universe doesn’t contain any profanity, at least not any current profanity. **Note- I am not saying that I want profanity in books** Elder “swears” by using words like “frexing”. I don’t know if these words were created because the English language has evolved or because the author, as a teacher, doesn’t like the idea of swear words in a book. I can appreciate it if the language as evolved, but in the dialogue, nothing else has changed. This leads me to believe that the words are used to allow characters to swear without actually doing so. Teenagers swear. So if you want your character to be a normal teen that swears, then have him swear. I don’t know if teens reading this will notice and be bothered by it, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.
I know this is a mixed-review, but I hope it will be read for both the positives I’ve included AND the constructive criticism. Like I said, I enjoyed the story and I know my students will also, which is most important.
If you’re looking for a book that will appeal to guy readers, make sure you hand them Insignia by S.J. Kincaid. T...moreReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
If you’re looking for a book that will appeal to guy readers, make sure you hand them Insignia by S.J. Kincaid. This debut has everything a book needs for guy appeal: humor, action, gaming, and more. Even better? Considering this type of book isn’t always my first choice, and knowing how much I enjoyed it, I’m positive girls will like Insignia as well.
Tom Raines’ character is written well and is perfect for this book. At the beginning of Insignia, we find out that he’s conniving and quite the talented gamer. We also find out that his dad is a short-on-his-luck gambler who isn’t really taking care of Tom the way a father should. With Tom being left to his own devices, he doesn’t take school very seriously even though it’s obvious that he’s smart. I think it’s safe to say that if Tom were a real teenager in my class, I’d really like him despite the front he puts up. He’s full of wit and quick humor and easy to like. He’s perfect for this book because he’s not over confident, nor is he too down on himself. He knows he’s talented, but I don’t think readers will find it annoying; I think they’ll connect with him and look up to him, especially if they’re gamers as well.
I’m not a gamer, but I have to admit that the world S.J. Kincaid created is pretty cool. How cool would it be to interact in a virtual reality?! Being a superior war machine really isn’t my idea of a good time (pressure much?), but I sure like reading about them! Kincaid did such a fantastic job creating the setting and the world Tom lives in, it felt like it could be real even though Insignia takes place in the future. Setting and world building is one of the most important features in science fiction and dystopians because so much relies on these two features. If they aren’t written well and with detail, then how am I supposed to buy in to the story, especially when sci-fi and dystopias are supposed to be believable?
I was fortunate enough to read Insignia back in November, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release since then. It’s a page-turning debut that I couldn’t put down, so I’m looking forward to discussing it with other readers. The release of Insignia is especially exciting because I’m using it in my YA Lit II class this upcoming school year. I let a few of my students read my copy early to get a feel from them, and was happy to hear rave reviews. S.J. Kincaid is an exciting new talent in the world of YA, and I can’t wait to read the next book!(less)
Dystopian stories have become a big hit in the the world of YA, so I was really excited to receive Possession. The cover is gorgeous and made me want...moreDystopian stories have become a big hit in the the world of YA, so I was really excited to receive Possession. The cover is gorgeous and made me want to delve into the story that much more.
Vi’s story had me hooked at the beginning. I was intrigued by her rebelliousness. Why is she not listening to the messages anymore? Why is it so bad that she’s walking alone at night with a guy? Why are people matched in the future? Getting the answers to these questions kept me turning the pages.
The only problem I had while reading Possession was that I often became confused. New plot elements were introduced or mentioned without any real explanation. It was about half way through the book that I found myself re-reading pages trying to figure out what I missed. I also had a hard time picturing Vi’s world. I’m not sure what could be done exactly, but it’d be nice if the world was built a little more. The lack of these details is what caused me the most trouble and slowed the reading down.
The story itself is enjoyable and one that I predict teens will love. Even though I hit some road blocks while reading Possession, they won’t keep me from reading more of Elana Johnson’s books.
I honestly had mixed reactions when I started reading The Farm. The concept is cool which is why I d...moreReview & Giveaway originally posted at YA Love
I honestly had mixed reactions when I started reading The Farm. The concept is cool which is why I decided to try it and join the blog tour. I’m not really big on vampires, but I like post-apocalyptic books. My students still like reading paranormal vampire novels and the post-apocalyptic genre is a big hit with them as well. Emily McKay’s debut is another book that I need to break down into what worked and what didn’t work.
What Worked For Me:
*The multiple points of view–The Farm is told from Lily, Mel, and Carter’s points of view told in alternating chapters. My favorite chapters are Mel’s because she’s autistic and has a really unique perspective and understanding of the world around her. The story works with this format because there’s so much going on and the characters are so involved. I learned more about Carter and his history during his chapters than in any of the other chapters, and I really don’t know how we could have learned as much about him without this format. Overall it added more layers to the story and really defined the characters. *Lily–I like what a strong heroine she is. She’s quick on her feet and stands up for herself and her sister. Her sense of humor, despite how horrible her life is, is witty and snarky. I really think teens with siblings who they’re close to or protective of, will connect with Lily and enjoy her character. *The pacing & action–The Farm is full of suspense, twists, and action. Emily McKay did a nice job balancing The Farm’s character development and plot development; it doesn’t feel like one more than the other (character driven or plot driven). I enjoyed the suspense and wondering how new developments were going to come to light. The pacing it great and will keep my students interested as they read.
What Didn’t Work For Me:
*Vampires–I’m over vampires. I don’t have much else to say on that topic. *I tried to keep an open mind on the vampire front, but some of the background storyline didn’t work for me. I don’t want to ruin anything because much of that isn’t revealed until 100+ pages in, but when I came to that story I sort of cringed. I had to start thinking of the book as more of a book for my students than for me at that point. And sometimes that’s what I really need to do when I read a book outside my comfort zone; I need to think about the students in class who will like it more than me. *I really liked Lily, Mel, and Carter, but I didn’t find myself connecting to them and their story until 75 or more pages in. I needed more earlier than that. (less)
My alumni book club chose Matched as our most recent read which is the reason I bought it. To be honest, I was really hesitant to read Ally Condie’s d...moreMy alumni book club chose Matched as our most recent read which is the reason I bought it. To be honest, I was really hesitant to read Ally Condie’s debut because I’ve read so many mixed/blah reviews for it. Ultimately, I’m glad it was chosen for book club because I ended up enjoying it. It’s not a title I’m raving about, but I liked it enough to buy the second book, Crossed. Cassia is living in a society and put in a situation that very much reminded me of Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Most of the people believe they live in a safe, pleasant society, but not-so-pleasant truths are uncovered after Cassia’s Matching ceremony. The similarities to The Giver kept me reading, along with Condie’s graceful writing style. I’ve found that I’m quite picky when reading dystopian YA, but I recommend Matched. (less)