28 September 2015

In a Handful of Dust

Author: Mindy McGinnis
Series: Not a Drop to Drink #2
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

As soon as I finished reading Not a Drop to Drink, I requested this novel from the library.  While there was nothing awe inspiring about the first novel in the series, it definitely had its moment of eloquence, so I was interested to see where McGinnis took this story now that Lynn is closer to her mother's age at the beginning of the first book and Lucy is closer to Lynn's.

Turns out, this novel is such a needless sequel.  Upon reaching the end of the story, I wished I hadn't read it.  The whole plot seems kind of stupid/irrational (like why would anyone still live in the middle of the effing desert?  How is that a survival instinct for anyone?  Or in a place known for droughts?  That is only marginally better.  And why would you decide to walk across the country to get there (this seems like the biggest plot hole of them all).  Desal plants or not, if I was heading west, I would have gone to Washington state, where is rains for like 75% of the days in a year).

And speaking of walking across the country, that is what third fourths of this book is about, and it gets very, very tedious.  Pointless characters are introduced just to try to help the plot limp along, but it doesn't do much.  The beginning leaves a lot of character development to be desired and the ending just plain sucks, though there are two very major plot twists towards the end.  Still, even these plot twists can't salvage this story.  If anything, one of them kind of made me hate it even more (I'm talking about you, Lynn).  Very disappointing after reading Not a Drop to Drink, even if the ending has a nice tie back to the beginning of the first novel.  It had a sprinkling of moments and a few nice quotes, but nothing to make it worth a sequel for the original story.  I suggest reading the first novel and forgetting this one even happened.

25 September 2015

Burn Out

Author: Kristi Helvig
Series: Burn Out #1
Rating: 1.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

"A futuristic blend of Beth Revis's Across the Universe and Lenore Appelhans's Level 2, Burn Out will satisfy the growing desire for science fiction with a thrilling story of survival, intrigue, and adventure."

This synopsis probably should have clued me in that this book wasn't going to be all that great.  Though I have not read Across the Universe yet, I did read Level 2 and wasn't all that impressed.  But come on, we all know I am a sucker for YA sci-fi, especially BSG/Firefly ones that do not include aliens but focus on the human expansion into space and the difficulties that arise.

So right off the bat I am already rooting for this story.  Unfortunately, Helvig gives me almost nothing to work with.  Though she has a PhD and credits the astrophysics department at some university for helping her with the science behind the plot, I am not buying it.  This story is set only 300 years into the future, and yet Earth is completely kaput?  The explanation?  Oh, we diverted an asteroid from hitting us and it instead ending up on a direct collision course with the sun.  And when this dark matter filled asteroid hit the sun, it heated its core so hot that now the sun is evaporating all the water on Earth and frying the ozone?

For one thing, if that were to happen, I highly doubt the mere development of metal shelters is going to shield you and save you.  If anything, the metal shelter is going to turn you into a heat sink since metal is a conductor and not an insulator.  Ditto for the "warp drive" spaceships that travel to the other Earth like planet they have discovered.  Also, the likelihood of an asteroid that is large enough to cause that type of destruction to the sun that is MASSIVE?  Chances are if it can do that to the sun, than the parts of the asteroid that broke off when we diverted it and sent it away and burned up in the atmosphere would have had enough dark matter to mess us up and cause mass extinctions here and the damage to the sun would be a moot point.  Also, if we have the technology for warp drive ships, why did we let the asteroid get so close to our solar system to become a threat in the first place?  Why wouldn't we have taken the plot from Deep Impact and done that way out before the asteroid even became a danger to us?

But let's forget about the flimsy plot (although, I can't, because that is just how my mind works!!!!).  Even without that unpleasing excuse for the way things are, it's not like the actual plot or characters are even better.  Tora is kind of annoying.  I realize a lot of her characteristics are the way they are to help the plot develop, but that just makes her almost insufferable to deal with.  And the romance in this story?  Why, why, why, why, WHY?  Couldn't we have taken all the effort thrown into that disaster and used it to try to come up with a better plot?

I managed to make it through the story, because I kept hoping Tora would get bashed over the head with something (she does) and it would knock some sense into her (it doesn't).  And I kept hoping that Helvig would divert away from these sad characters and at least give me a little bit of juicy sci-fi to work with.  But she doesn't, so don't bother with this one.

19 September 2015

Vengeance Road

Author: Erin Bowman
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

"Pa's right, [gold] does make monsters of men.  And women.  Cus while I don't want the riches, I want that gang dead, and I ain't quitting till each of ems as cold as that bastard in the outhouse."

I'm not going to lie, I thought this novel was going to floor me.  The cover alone promises a roaring good time with the rustic western style, the hand guns and, oh yeah, the human skull.  Plus, the name has the word vengeance in it, which is a pretty good indicator of a plot riddled with shootouts and dead bodies.  Heck, even the synopsis proved enticing:

When her father is murdered for a journey revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers - and justice.  What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat...

Now, don't get me wrong, Vengeance Road has its moments to be sure.  There is one surprising twist that I did not see coming at all.  Then there is another (the one at the end) that didn't catch me unexpected at all.  There were more than a few less the subtle clues placed throughout the book leading up to it that I caught on to with suspicion.  And there are a few bar clearing western styled shootouts.

But even so, Vengeance Road just feels underwhelming.  The plot feels slow in certain places while Kate and her rag tag band are trekking across the wild west.  Bowman tries to make up for the lulls in action during the trek across the plains by filling them, unfortunately, with some less than necessary young adult romance drama, which this novel definitely could have lived without.  I will say, though, that every time I start to tire of the lull and the romance, Bowman goes and throws wrenches in the plot that catch my attention all over again.

All and all, it isn't nearly as kick butt exciting as I thought it could be, but it's a fun little read.  For a story built on family secrets, heaping piles of gold, and a revenge murder spree, I have to say the writing was a little light.  I never really buy into Kate's character, which is a sign that perhaps she isn't developed in the right way for this type of western styled story.  But young adult western novels are hard to come by - this might actually be the first I've read - so if you like that style, go ahead and check it out.

16 September 2015

The Fixer

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Fixer #1
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy

Tess's life get turned upside down when her older sister, Ivy, shows up at the family ranch in Montana.  Though Tess has done her best to keep her grandfather's degenerating mental health stabilized and the news of it away from Ivy, the secret eventually comes out and Tess finds herself whisked away to Washington DC, away from her grandfather and into a life with the sister she barely knows.

The synopsis of the book boosts "This thriller YA is Scandal meets Veronica Mars."  I have not seen Scandal yet, though it is in my never ending Netflix queue, but I loved V Mars.  And this book definitely has that teenage sleuth kind of feel to it, though Tess's sister Ivy makes a much larger role in the plot then Papa Mars usually paid with Veronica.

While the focus of this novel is a bit out there - a conspiracy that might include high ranking officials in politics and the White House - it has just enough foundation built in to feel believable.  The development of the characters definitely helps too, as do Tess's and Ivy's snarky personalities, which I love.  Even the dynamic between Ivy and Bodie adds entertainment to this tale.

I really like the ending too.  The plot has penalty of twists and turns, and I had multiple opinions of who-done-it along the way.  In the end, it wasn't someone I expected, and yet the resolution didn't come out of left field either like a lot of mysteries that simply go for the shock and awe instead of the slow build up of clue (yes, I'm talking about you still Broadchurch).  I think this book might have been best off as a stand alone, but Barnes does a nice job of setting up the sequel while still leaving this novel feeling mostly solved.

The other thing I have to give Barnes mad props for is that Tess is kind of a BA heroine.  She has a lot on her mind and on her plate in this novel, and she doesn't waste the whole story pining over guys.  I hate it when authors feel like they cannot write a successful YA novel with throwing in a bunch of needless romance.  So kudos on that.  While this novel wasn't a must-binge-in-one-sitting suspense story, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and I will be picking up the sequel when it comes out.  (My mom also commented that it showed up on the carousal of my old Kindle Fire she has and that she's in the process of reading it too.  She really likes it so far as well).

13 September 2015

Rebel Mechanics

Author: Shanna Swendson
Series: Rebel Mechanics #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

This novel has all the elements to be an instant classic in the steampunk genre.  Unfortunately, Swendson does not do the best job of weaving the elements together so this novel falls about midway on the spectrum from love it to hate it.

Right off the bat, I can tell Verity is not the strongest of female characters.  For starters, when her train gets boosted by bandits en route to start a new chapter of her life in New York City her reaction is to put down her book and watch enthusiastically.  Instead of being cautious and erring on the side of reason, Verity is excited.  And then, as if that isn't enough, she decides she fended off the bandit, simply because he didn't have any use for her and decided to let her go free.  That's right - the bandit kisses her hand in farewell, and she considers herself awesome because she defended herself against him.  Pah-lease.

Fortunately, Verity's character becomes less annoying as she gets settled into a new position and a new life in this alternate version of the United States of Britain.  Though I must admit, she falters again when I realize that she seems prone to affording this novel a bit of a love triangle.  Seriously, what is it with girls in Young Adult novels and their need to fall in love with every boy they set eyes on?  Like most other novels in the YA genre, the romance is rushed, underdeveloped, and hardly matters to the plot.  In fact, it would have been a lot better if Swendson has just left it out completely.

Still, I have to give some props to a novel where engineers and the rebels with the cause.  Heck yes, amigos, heck yes.  Though it seems the women in this alternate universe 1800s still are more apt to play nanny and be a bit of journalists than to get to tinker and design themselves, I still feel like I could have enjoyed joining this rebel movement.

Though the romance becomes a bit tiresome, the plot is fast paced and quickly changing, and I always love a good rebellion.  So while Rebel Mechanics isn't a novel to write home about, it's a decent steampunk read for a lazy rainy weekend (even if the author had to throw magic in there for good measure as well).

12 September 2015

A Thousand Nights

Author: E.K. Johnston
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for an honest review.

Again, I feel as if I need to preface my review by letting you know about my complete ignorance when it comes to the original tale of 1001 nights.  Sure, I know the basic plot, but I've never read the original, so I read this book more as an original story than a retelling.  That is likely a hindrance to my understanding and appreciation, because I thus find this novel extremely slow paced, difficult to get invested in, and parts of it difficult to understand.

For example, the entire smallgod and demon aspect of the novel is pretty much lost on me.  Yes, I realize that there is apparently a species/colony of demons out in the desert, hell bent on using the humans as pawns in their own schemes.  And yes, I understand that our heroine narrator (it took me so long to read this novel I can't even remember her name to save my life) asks her sister (step sister, I guess, technically, since she is a sister from another woman married to her father, ugh) to pray to the smallgods for her and that smallgods have powers in this world.  I sort of got all that, but I just couldn't get invested in the plot and the characters because these elements made it nearly impossible to suspend my disbelief.  Couple the fantasy/paranormal elements with the fact that the plot is extremely slow to develop, only picking up in about the last 25% of the story, and it was a chore to get through this novel.

Character development isn't well done either, since the main characters are really only developed through their magical powers for the most part.  Yes, I admire the main character for fooling the ruler into believing she is her sister in order to save her sister from his evil tyranny, but other than that she doesn't have many redeeming qualities, other than the fact that she refuses to cower to Lo-Melkhiin and thus forces him to deal with her head on.  All her development stems for the aspect of smallgod power, and that part, again, was difficult to get into it since it's hard to believe.

The ending is also incredibly lackluster and anti-climatic.  After such a drawn out and slowly paced plot, I at least hoped that the book would end with a bang.  But it's more a firework with a long fuse that, when the fire finally reaches the body, fizzles out as a dud instead of exploding into the sky.

So while it isn't badly written and though the book actually got a bit interesting about 3/4 of the way through, I still have a hard time recommending it since it took me nearly a month to finish and I almost gave up a few times.

The Jewel

Author: Amy Ewing
Series: The Lone City #1
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

It is hard to decide what I think about Violet Lasting, the main character and narrator of this story.  Her decision to be a surrogate is not one of her own choosing.  If anything, it is a product of genetics.  For Violet is born with the gift (and the curse) of the Auguries, which give her the rare power to be able to carry a child of royal lineage to term without the baby being all deformed and stunted and eventually dying.  So while Violet's life growing up in the slums in the outer, poorest ring of the Lone City may not have been the best, things certainly don't look up when she has her first period at twelve, gets the mandatory test, finds out she has the powers of these Auguries, and is swept away to a holding cell to hone her skills for the next four years.

Believe it or not, this beginning portion of the novel is actually the interesting part, even if I still don't really understand how the Auguries work, how they are possible, and what - exactly - makes Violet and the other surrogates special to have these traits in the first place.  To be fair, it doesn't seem like Ewing knows either, because the characters basically say 'Yeah, it's a mystery - just roll with it' every time it comes up.  Which, if you know me, you will realize drives me absolutely BONKERS.  But, I digress.  Let's get to the royally f*ed up part of this plot, where Violet and the others she has lived with for the past four years are auctioned off to the highest bidder in a public form, drugged, and dragged away to The Jewel - the inner most, royal part of the city jammed back with palaces, royal elitists, and just downright terrible people.

If you are like me, you would expect these surrogates to be revered in the Jewel.  After all, they are the only things that stand between the extinction of these royal bloodlines and thus the power these people hold.  But are they treated like the magical beings they are?  Errrr, no.  Instead, they are chained and handcuffed or - my favorite - given collars and pulled around by a leash with a bag over their heads.  Also, they are forced to use their magical abilities to show off in public, even though it causes them to have nosebleeds and pass out.  Because I'm sure that will be good for the baby's health.

To summarize, the plot and the character develop in this book make absolutely no sense whatsoever.  All the royals are heartless, evil b-words, and then they act all disappointed when their surrogates drop dead (sometimes by sabotage from another rich snob elitist) or - even better - when their demon spawn can't latch onto the inside of these poor girls vaginas and survive.

But, let's get away from the plot that steadily goes off the rails and focus on our "heroine", Violet.  As I started to say at the beginning of my review, it isn't Violet's fault that she was born with this genetic anomaly that turns her effectively into a slave.   It is her fault, however, that she is so bloody stupid.  What really, really, really made me want to reach into the book and punch her in the fact is her relationship/romantic entanglement in the story.  Because this is a YA dystopian story, so of course there has to be romance.

Let's look past the fact that there is absolutely no development of this relationship at all.  Let's ignore the fact that they meet twice, and then suddenly he rushes towards her, collects her into a kiss, and bam! they are confessing love to each other.  My fundamental issue with their relationship is that they both know why their are here in The Jewel/what their jobs entail.  And they both know the same about the other.  And yet, they seem to forget it.  When Violet sees him working, she goes raving mad, declaring immediately that she hates him, even though she knows his job details even worse things that she conveniently ignores.  And then he knows what being a surrogate entails - though he doesn't seem to bother to ask her any details, which just goes to show they don't spend much time getting to know each other.  Their entire relationship is ABSURD and yet it takes up the majority of the second half of the novel.  And the dialogue steadily becomes worse and worse as it shifts to their interactions, until the point where I almost wanted to throw up a few times.

Yes, there is a twist at the end, but for the majority this book rolls along with a rather standard plot that isn't difficult to guess.  The characters are either vapid and stupid (Violet, her gentleman friend, Raven...) or characterized only by their wickedness (pretty much everyone else).  And while the beginning part of this novel is interesting with this highly unique world, it doesn't take long for it to go completely off the rails.  So do yourself a favor.  Skip this one.

10 September 2015

Specials

Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: Uglies #3
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

The Uglies series, unlike fine wine, does not age well.  When this series first came out (a DECADE ago, holy moly!) I loved it.  I even paid full MSRP for the novels (and if you know me, that's practically unheard of).  I own all four novels (that's right, a trilogy with FOUR novels, oi), and when I heard that Uglies was going to be a book of the month in my book club, the teenager still inside me did a little jig.

Tally, we've come a long way together.  It was definitely a roller coaster.  And I'm not speaking about the plot, though it did have some action packed sequences in it (though, to be fair, about 50% of them weren't very logical progressions of the story in my opinion).  I'm referring more to your insane personality, that can't seem to focus on one personality.  Instead, you flip flop back and forth throughout each of the stories, rewiring your rewired brain over and over and over... and you sure you aren't brain dead by now?  There definitely has to be some kind of damage.

When I was 15 and reading these novels, I didn't think about how crazy and highly illogical it would be for Tally to become a Special, having all her bones and muscles removed and replaced with materials they make space stations and fighter pilots out of.  At that age, I didn't go through the details of Tally's trip, calculating how far she travels and where her city might be located.  And it's a good thing, because none of this makes a lick of sense to me now!

Make no mistake, the world that Westerfeld creates not only in Specials but in the entire Uglies world is so far fetched with crazy surgery (how is this economy sustainable if they are isolated from other cities?) and even the fact that Dr. Cagan takes a bunch of 16 year-olds and basically turns them into monsters (and, like, wouldn't it be so much easier to just make robots?) that it leaves gaping plot holes.  But if you can get over these shortcomings, as I did as a teenagers, I still think these books are worth a once read.  If nothing else, I love the society commentary that abounds through the stories, Specials being no exception.  Though the ending was a little lackluster, there are some interesting points made about society and even human nature itself.  So while it's as disappointing as the end of BSG, it still has a similar message, which I can appreciate.

If I didn't carry my love for this series from my teenage years with me still today, I would probably rate this book lower.  After all, it's one of those series where you really don't like any of the main characters.  And the one exception to the rule?  Well, let's just say that characters gets the short end of the stick in Specials, when only adds to the bummer-scale.  But alas, I do still carry that little torch inside my heart.  Burn on, little light, burn on (but honestly, I might not read these books again).

08 September 2015

A Curious Tale of the In-Between

Author: Lauren DeStefano
Series: Pram #1
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Lauren DeStefano has a knack for taking brilliant story ideas and running them so far aground you don’t know what the heck you are reading anymore.  I feel like this story is no exception.  Meet Pram Bellamy, a cute, quirky young girl who can see ghosts.  One of her best friends, Felix, is in fact a ghost.  She also makes friends with Clarence, and they bound over the fact that they both have mothers that have died.

This part of the story, I loved, loved, loved.  I thought this was going to be a heart warming, and perhaps even heart wrenching, tale of two friends on a quest to find out where they came from, especially with Pram’s interest in finding out who her father is.  After all, though her two aunts care for her, she still feels like she is an obligation to them, and very much an orphan.  Maybe I can't relate to this sentiment exactly, but I sure as heck can empathize.

I could not have been further off base from the actual plot of this novel if I had tried.  And, I have to admit, I would have been much happier and I think the book would have been much more brilliant if DeStefano had gone the route I thought, and less down the rabbit hole into the paranormal/fantasy of stealing memories (among other things) and introducing a whole bunch of new characters while shying away from the ones she took the time to develop in the beginning of the novel.

I will admit, I like the moral of the story as it relates to Pram’s mother, father, and her aunts in the end.  But, unfortunately, the ending in this regard does not make up for the story I was expecting.  I think my issue is that the story becomes too fantastical.  Of course, you might say.  It has ghosts after all!  But I can suspend my disbelief for small doses of paranormal, which it why I really enjoyed the beginning portion of this novel.  But with the introduction of Lady Savant, and the way the plot forks and heads down a totally different direction after throwing her into the mix?  It feels more like DeStefano was going for cheap thrills with the action/suspense instead of the character study/emotion train I would have preferred.  Still, I can see why kids are going to like this book.  And I'll probably pick up the next in the series (I can't seem to stop getting sucked into DeStefano's crazy series), hoping the plot in a little more believable/relateable.

05 September 2015

George

Author: Alex Gino
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

Before I get into my review of this story, I need to tell you a little bit about myself, because my own personal experiences heavily impacted my thoughts on this novel.

When I was in elementary school, I did swim team and softball.  In middle school, I gravitated towards martial arts and rock climbing.  In high school, I played a lot of tennis, basketball and bowling.  I went to college to go work in motorsports.  Starting in middle school, I started wearing jeans from the boys' department, because I didn't like how tightly formed jeans from the girls' department were (especially how useless the pockets were).  And you were likely to catch me in a t-shirt of my favorite sports team pared with it (and NEVER with a purse, as I don't own one since I have pants that have usable pockets and thus don't need one).  I even kept my hair cut short to help keep the sweat off my neck in the summer.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was/still am a "tomboy".  As I got older, things didn't "improve" much.  Instead of going shopping at the mall, I went to hockey games with my dad.  And instead of watching Dancing with the Stars with my mom, I would either be outside playing kickball or playing Around the World with the neighborhood kids or I would be sitting in front of the tube watching an IndyCar race with my dad.

So now let's look at George.  A charming fourth grader, George is struggling with her identity.  She knows she's a girl, even though she was born inside a boy's body.  She has a secret stash of Seventeen magazines (which I never personally read) she has to keep hidden from her mother and her older brother, because she doesn't think they will understand.  She has to deal with constant taunting from boys at school, one of which was kind of her friend for a while, and a school play dear to her heart that is not going the way she would like at all.

I love little George, don't get me wrong.  I can relate to little George, because in a lot of ways I struggled with some of the same insecurities as she does.  Luckily, I had a dad who embraced my love of sports, and not a mother who told me I needed to conform.

I have two issues with this novel, and neither have to do with George herself, but more of the way Gino tries to send a message about transgender kids and kids alike.  The first one being that I did not like that George resorts to bullying to counteract bullying.  That is not a message I would ever send my kids.  I know sometimes you gotta fight fire with fire, but what George does sends the wrong message completely (especially with how the adults deal with it).

The second, and much more important, is how Gino treats gender stereotypes.  This is a hugely personal topic for me, since I've always been labeled a "tomboy".  While I understand the difficulties of being transgender in today's society, Gino makes George out to be transgender simply because he doesn't fit his own gender stereotypes.  In addition, it's kind of offensive the way Gino portrays what it means to be a girl.

To George, being a girl means she gets to wear lots of makeup.  First of all, I don't want my fourth grader wearing makeup.  Second of all, I never wear makeup even now.  It also means getting to try on high heels and wear a skirt.  Because, and a character in this novel points out, "When girls dress up, they wear skirts. I have a lot to teach you about being a girl."  Being a girl DOES NOT mean you have to wear a skirt or a dress to dress up.  My version of dress up is a button down blouse and a nice pair of black slacks.  Over high heels, I wear a pair of very nice sneakers or flats.

Another character makes the comment to George, "No offense, but you don't make a very good boy."  What the heck is that supposed to mean?  Because George would rather play Mario Kart and read Seventeen magazine over playing bloody first person shooter games with his brother, he doesn't make a good boy?  The gender stereotypes in this book are INSANE.

Yes, I think it's important that we stop being so narrow minded and judgmental about transgender people.  Yes, I love George with all my heart.  But I would not want a son or daughter, or even a niece or nephew of mine, to read this book and think that they ever have to act a certain way or do certain things or dress in certain clothes because that is what society has decided is "appropriate".  I think Gino tries to bring one social issue - treatment of transgender people - to light by throwing another important social issue - gender stereotypes - completely under the bus.  That part of this book I found highly offensive, through no fault of George's.  And I realize perhaps I am reading too much into it and that a fourth grader or someone in the target audience for this book would not even realize what I saw, but I wouldn't give it to them to ever make that mistake.

02 September 2015

Fairy Godmothers, Inc.

Author: Jenniffer Wardell
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

This book is hard for me to review since it took me over two months to get through it.  Thus the most accurate thing I can say about it is that it is not a very engaging story.  The characters are likable enough, but they aren’t very developed.  Kate is a charming enough character, and she certainly has an interesting job, but her job and her dynamic with Jon are about the only things that drive Kate in this story.

Jon is another character.  I realize this story is supposed to be a happily ever after fairy tale - just look at the title - but I still wanted some development out of it.  Having Jon meet Kate and instantly fall in love doesn't feel very realistic.  It's fine for middle grade novels, maybe, but for YA?  I want development in plot and characters.

And while the premise for the story is majorly cute – a fairy godmother gets a fairy tale of her own, the writing is rather plan and simple.  The plot drags around a bit, with all the issues of Rellie and the assignment to give her her happily ever after.  And I never really get invested with any of the characters where I even care where the plot goes.  It's a fun idea in principle, but the execution does didn't do much for me.

The Knife of Never Letting Go

Author: Patrick Ness
Series: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Verdict: Borrow

Todd is isolated in his small community of Prentisstown, which is a feat in itself considering everyone in the town can hear the thoughts of everyone else.  And it isn't just humans we're talking about - we mean everything.  Including Todd's dog, Manchee, who becomes enduring later on in the novel, but is mostly irritating in his communication through the Noise, in which he says 1) Todd! or 2) poop.

Todd is the only boy left in the town of Prentisstown on the New World; he's the only one who hasn't reached thirteen years and thirteen months, and with 30 days left until he reaches manhood, Todd's life is about to get complicated.  There's a secret to what manhood mean in Prentisstown, which Todd is a fixin to find out (but not us!  We have to wait 400 pages until we finally get the big reveal).

The first thing you are likely to realize about this novel is that Todd has a different dialect than you are used to, unless you are used to redneck hillbillies writing out phonetically.  Which would have been okay, if Ness had stayed consistent.  Though it is a bit irksome at first, I daresay you will get used to you as you read on.  I have a very sneaking suspicion it's because Ness lightens up on the bizarre spelling and odd narrative quite heavily towards the middle of the book, only throwing in a misspelled confusion.  Just as an example, I randomly opened the book to page 357 and started skimming through it to try to find an example of a word... I gave up by page 363 because Ness simply stopped using it.  If you are going to go for the unique narrative style, stick with it man!  Don't wimp out halfway through and then just toss a few "ain't"s in there every once in a while.  That really irritates me.

But back to this big reveal.  Todd gets hints at it relatively early on, and then finds out for sure later.  But Ness conveniently finds ways of hiding the truth in the narrative.  So you are over 400 pages in before you find out the big secret in this story.  And guess what?  By then, my over productive imagination has already come up with about five better esplanashions (heh, see what I did there?  Annoying, isn't it?) of what happens.  So when I find out the actual truth?  It's kind of a huge let down.

Oh, and did I mention there are alien on this New World?  Except they are all dead.  And apparently, even if they weren't, they weren't that impressive to begin with.  That was a bit of a letdown.  My other big beef with this novel is that they had all the technology of cryo freezing and interstellar travel, but when they land and colonize this planet, the church goers decide to basically live off the land and burn books?  Don't you think they would have taken more technology with them?  I know they wanted to get away from the sins and corupshion (ha, did it again!) and all that, but to do that, they would have had to leave humans behind as well.

If you can get over the disappoint of the suspense, than this novel isn't bad of a read.  It has the generic twists and turns, and the ending definitely leaves you begging for more.  But with all the excited hype I've heard for this story, I have to stay I was at least a little disappointed.

And don't even get me started on the two moons in the same phase on the cover of this version of the novel (which I notice was conveniently fixed for later editions).  That's just sloppy for us sci-fi nerds.  But even with all my complaining, I'm still going to read the next novel in the series.  And I'm hoping it's even better!