Posts Tagged ‘books for boys’

The Knife Of Never Letting Go

Patrick Ness

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.

Escaping the problems of the old world, the pioneers of New World had hoped to carve out a new, simpler, idyllic existence for themselves and their families by farming the land and practicing their faith. Twenty years later, their numbers decimated as a result of the violent war with the natives, the Spacks , the last remaining human settlers of New World cling to survival in their swamp encircled village – Prentistown.

Fatal to all but a few men, The Germ, a weapon deployed by the Spacks, has left the survivors of Prentistown afflicted with The Noise – the audible expression of their every thought, memory and emotion.

“The noise is a man unfiltered and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking”

I was quickly gripped by Todd’s first person account, written as Todd would speak, I found myself floating along with the cadence of Todd’s voice. Filled with spelling mistakes and at times, limited punctuation, you really get a feel for Todd’s limited education, necessitated by the need to survive, and the presence of a new accent amongst the settlers, indicating their separateness from ourselves. Todd is a complex character, at times cruel, thoughtless and proud and yet his also amazingly loyal and brave in the face of his fears.

The animal characterisation was fantastic. Stealing the show from the first page Manchee the dog grew on me in much the same way he did for Todd, at first an amusing diversion, an unavoidable irritation then becoming a valued companion, guide and protector. Ness really captured the enthusiasm, energy and loyalty of man’s best friend. I also enjoyed the comfort and safety of belonging to a herd with The Noise of the giant ox and their song of here, the stupidity of sheep and the general chattering of all the creatures.

I loved the concept of The Noise and I thought that it was an amazingly original idea. The presence of The Noise made for an uncomfortable read and ramped up the tension. You know that Todd and his companions are in a no- win situation. They are unable to out run the army they can hear gaining on them, and it’s impossible to hide with Todd’s noise announcing his position. Yet you are sat heart in mouth, rooting for a solution. The way noise was expressed on the page, as a jumble of different thoughts in different sized texts and fonts, gave a taste of the distracting, ugly chaos of Todd’s world.

While I understand that a cliff hanger is an important tool to wet your interest and ensure you will check out the next instalment of a series, there are times when it feels like you have been sucker punched. You’ve invested in these characters for the duration of the novel and BOOM! everything is left up in the air. This is definitely one of those times. Ordinarily I would find this immensely frustrating and feel hacked off, however the advantage of reading an older book is that the series is complete and I can feel smug in the knowledge that I have the rest of the trilogy sat on my book case.

Verdict: Reserve, borrow or buy the entire trilogy before you even think about starting The Knife Of Never Letting Go.

Publisher: Walker
Publication Date: October 2008
Format: Paperback
Pages: 479
Genre: Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: Oldest Book
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Blood

K J Wignall

Back in the 13th Century Will was destined to be Earl of Mercia. He never lived to inherit his title struck down by a strange illness and buried beneath the city walls. But Will was not dead and only now seven lonely centuries later does he begin to understand that there was a reason for all of this that he has a destiny. To find it though he will need help and as ever he will need blood.

To the shock and horror of many, I’ve never actually read a ‘Vampire’ book before and was therefore unable to contribute to our recent ‘around the table’ discussions regarding Twilight – now on my ‘to read’ pile! So this was my first experience and I didn’t know if it would be my cup of tea or not. However I was drawn in by the beautiful black, silver and red cover and I’m pleased that the story inside didn’t disappoint.

Blood, which is book one of the Mercian Trilogy introduces our protagonist Will. Will was born back in 1256 and only made it to sixteen years old having been struck down by a ‘strange illness’. We learn that he was bitten by a creature and although buried by his family, he never dies. Set in London, he has a crypt under the city walls and every few years or so after a good long sleep he awakes again not knowing which century he will be in and how life will have changed in the real world. He has witnessed much over the years and is longing to find the creature that bit him and to find answers about what happened to him all those years ago.

I felt sorry for him. He has never met another like him, and has not known anyone who can help him or explain how he came to be in this situation. To him death would be preferable to the existence he has had for the last 750 plus years. The first chapter sets the scene well and I enjoyed the author’s descriptive narrative throughout the book. We follow Will on his journey as he first off sets out to satisfy his need for blood – which wasn’t gruesome at all – quite clean and methodical in fact! Will rarely needs to have blood – he does it when necessary and he feeds off of drifters and those who wouldn’t be missed. It’s all quite different to the ‘Vampires’ that I had imagined.

He finds Jex, who ‘lives’ in an abandoned warehouse and he becomes Will’s unfortunate victim. He also meets Eloise, who is homeless, feisty and completely un-phased by Will’s description of himself as ‘undead’. She wants to help him in his quest and isn’t remotely concerned or scared by anything that they encounter. Going back to Jex’s place, they see that he has been writing and drawing pictures and Will realises his writings hold clues to help his quest. As they investigate they find themselves under attack from a supernatural entity. This leads to some fast paced battles which I thought were well written. Along the way, the truth slowly starts to reveal itself leading finally to a showdown in an old abandoned church where Will begins to get some answers at last.

There is romance, but nothing gushy or mushy. The story is unfinished as it’s the first of a Trilogy but I shall read the rest. I found it all rather intriguing.

Verdict: An enjoyable and interesting read, and a great introduction to the Trilogy.

Reviewed by Lesley

Publisher: Egmont Press
Publication Date: September 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 277
Genre: Paranormal
Age: YA
Reviewer: Lesley
Source: Received at event
Challenge: N/A
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