Category Archives: coming of age

[Review] The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

Book Title:    The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #01)
Author:            
Patrick Ness
Number of pages:  
479

Synopsis:

patrick ness - knife of never letting go (cover)Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

(re: Goodreads @ The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness)

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:

– Relationships between protagonists and man and dog are all genuine and platonic. Manchee is the best effing ruddy dog, ever, and I’m sure this foolish man’s best friend will become your favourite character.
– The world isn’t burdened with description as it allows for basic tangible scenery to become fully realised in thought. Follows the first person perspective of an illiterate boy; there will be words made up, misspelled enunciated words, and lots of repetition.
– Basically one long chase scene where the primary antagonist is almost a carbon copy of Terminator.
Handles the social and human issues with ease; focusing on choice and self-identity in a dehumanized society of power tripping baddies mirroring the novel concept of community.
An unfortunate cliffhanger that may require the second instalment ready to go.

knife-of-never-letting-go-patrick-ness-scorecard-600x300

Initial Thoughts

So stuff happens. And then more stuff happens. Then someone slaps me in the face and I’m like ????? but other things happen. Then someone shoots my leg and as I’m slow to get up, they gun down my knee-cap, too. And then the cycle repeats a few more times until all feels have been exhausted.

And that’s basically The Knife of Never Letting Go in a nutshell notwithstanding all that violent stuff actually happening (or maybe it does, differently).

Never have I read an initial installment for a trilogy where nothing really changes from the first to the last page (re: considering ~500 pages) yet it’s an oscillating thrill-ride of questions, answers, and a goldmine of atmospheric suffocation and tension. Between all the moments I hated and the moments that I relished, there’s something worth buying into.

And if it’s any consolation, I shed some tears. So, that’s worth something I guess.

This and more (~3k words more) under the cut—

Side note: I wrote a companion post (re: Music Monday) where I matched a song to elements of this novel. You can find that post by clicking here.

Disclaimer: Potential spoilers inherent to this review from here onward.

Continue reading [Review] The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

[Review] What We Hide – Marthe Jocelyn

Book Title:                   What We Hide (Standalone)  
Author:                          Marthe Jocelyn
Number of pages:  288

Synopsis:

What We Hide - Marthe Jocelyn (Cover)Americans Jenny and her brother, Tom, are off to England: Tom to university, to dodge the Vietnam draft, Jenny to be the new girl at a boarding school, Illington Hall. This is Jenny’s chance to finally stand out, so accidentally, on purpose, she tells a lie. But in the small world of Ill Hall, everyone has something to hide. Jenny pretends she has a boyfriend. Robbie and Luke both pretend they don’t. Brenda won’t tell what happened with the school doctor. Nico wants to hide his mother’s memoir. Percy keeps his famous dad a secret. Oona lies to everyone. Penelope lies only to herself.

 (re: Goodreads @ What We Hide by Marthe Jocelyn)

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:

– Follows 8 POVs, changing tenses, and told in varying narrative styles (i.e. letters, screenplays, prose-fiction)
– Timeframe set during the 1960-70s, themes involve: lies and betrayal, LGBT, social status, sexuality (not crude though), bullying; all relevant to the average teenager
– Ensemble-driven rather than fully developing specific characters; some of which are more/less developed than others
– Individuals have their reasons for what they do in order to remain relevant. By remaining stagnant, the possibility of growth and revelation diminishes, and characters face the same challenges in a constant cycle.

Initial Thoughts:

England? Check.
Boarding school? Check.
I think we both know where my thoughts are going. Not.

This is going to be one perplexing review because I’ve never had to critique something like this before. Maybe it was the various perspectives which threw me off (eight distinct voices in total) or maybe it was the sheer nonlinearity of the plot—or at least how it felt like when reading What We Hide—that makes it difficult to assess. At first, I was going to scrutinize each character…but I’m still not quite sure how I truly feel about this book since I enjoyed what I think it set out to achieve but it wasn’t extremely captivating or game-changing.

Full disclosure: I received an advanced reader copy of What We Hide through NetGalley for an honest review. I extend my thanks to Tundra Books at Random House of Canada Limited for providing me the opportunity to review this book.

Disclaimer: There may be spoilers inherent to this review from this point onward.

Continue reading [Review] What We Hide – Marthe Jocelyn

[Review] Barracuda – Christos Tsiolkas

Book Title:                         Barracuda (Standalone)
Author:
                               Christos Tsiolkas
Number of pages:         528

Synopsis:christos tsiolkas - barracuda (cover)

“He asked the water to lift him, to carry him, to avenge him. He made his muscles shape his fury, made every stroke declare his hate. And the water obeyed; the water would give him his revenge. No one could beat him, no one came close.”

His whole life Danny Kelly’s only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he’s ever done – every thought, every dream, every action – takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best. His life has been a preparation for that moment.

His parents struggle to send him to the most prestigious private school with the finest swimming program; Danny loathes it there and is bullied and shunned as an outsider, but his coach is the best and knows Danny is, too, better than all those rich boys, those pretenders. Danny’s win-at-all-cost ferocity gradually wins favour with the coolest boys – he’s Barracuda, he’s the psycho, he’s everything they want to be but don’t have the guts to get there. He’s going to show them all.

“He would be first, everything would be alright when he came first, all would be put back in place. When he thought of being the best, only then did he feel calm.”

(an excerpt re: Goodreads @ Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas)

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:
  • A coming of age story with converging perspectives to recount the then and now of Daniel Kelly’s life.
  • Prose is expertly versed, imaginative and evocative, even if long-winded.
  • Characters are brutally honest, real, and provoke both negative/positive emotions.
  • The plotting is seemingly basic but manages to capture a variety of genres.
Initial Thoughts:

I am perplexed.

But what I am sure of is that I’m a bit disappointed that the book cover (and its title by proxy) could have made me believe that this kid had some pseudo-merman powers or the like. Seriously.

However, the synopsis is certainly poignant. And if the blurb is of indication of the writing in this book then you’re certainly a winner for picking this book up because everything is meticulously described. To expand upon this point: you just didn’t somehow load up this blog (although that is cool beans as well)—no, that would be too easy… through the reflection of the backlit screen your eyes graze a query into the deepest desires for knowledge. A white manifestation of your soul skeptically hovers, looming, unsure, and you begin to wonder what the heck I’m talking about now…) Yeah, that’s my take on how overbearing and fluffy some descriptions tended to be. But I guess there’s substance in that so I can’t complain that much.

I will admit: I don’t usually gravitate towards novels fixated on a cultural-contemporary nature. Actually, I don’t remember how I came across Barracuda in the first place. But with Sochi (and Olympic feels) rapidly approaching, I felt this to be a great fit to explore the battle of an athlete’s mentality; and all of the inherent struggles and fix-ins that came with it.

Let’s dive right in.

Disclaimer: Potential spoilers inherent to this review have been minimized with exceptions to quotes.

 

Continue reading [Review] Barracuda – Christos Tsiolkas