Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting GoThe Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Read: August 7 – August 11, 2013
Personal read.

Goodreads Book Blurb: 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?

My Opinion: In the beginning, and for most of this book, I had a really hard time engaging. The prose is written in a convoluted mess of grammar and spelling, in an effort to convey how little Todd knows about reading and writing. For me, this took me out of the story as I was constantly irked by the errors. I think this is very polarizing, and readers will either not care, or care very much.

Todd is a very naive character, and it varied between being an endearing quality and an annoying one. I found that his interactions with other characters, Manchee especially, made this feel like it was driven more towards young boys as an audience than anything. I got really tired of reading about how much Manchee had to poop, personally.

I can’t comment on Ness’ writing from a technical standpoint, because it was stylistically made to be full of grammatical and spelling errors. In the sense of storytelling, Ness knows how to hit you where it hurts, let me tell you. And then he kicks you while you are down, just for good measure.

I spent a lot of this book really hating the characters, in a broad sense. I just wanted them to not be so… stupid? I wanted them to fight for themselves, to not make the obvious mistakes that they did anyways. There were so many times I heard myself screaming “NO” in my head, but of course the characters didn’t listen to little old me. Later in the book, we are told why they behave the way they do to some extent, but it was still one of the most aggravating things, and plot-wise it didn’t entirely make sense to me.

If I was going to colonize a new planet, I would send a mixture of people, not all of one certain type. But that, again, is just me.

The ending is what bumped it up from an OK book to a book I really enjoyed. I actually got a book hangover, almost entirely due to that ending.

Bottom Line: A dark dystopian science fiction that has a questionable young adult label on it. Written in a very specific style that will take some getting used to, but you will be rewarded for your efforts. I definitely recommend this book, and I will be continuing with the series.

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A Fantastic Book, and a Dilemma

So I debated about posting this, because as most people know by now, I have a very deep and personal dislike for Amazon. But, I love this book and author…

So what do I do?

The book and author won.

The Wool Omnibus (which I just reviewed a few days ago) and the Shift Omnibus (the sequel to the Wool Omnibus) by Hugh Howey are on sale today at Amazon for $1.99 each. Now, the books are totally worth their normal selling price, but that is a steal of a deal. Without, you know, actually stealing the books (which is BAD and WRONG!)

The best part about this sale? (And really, the turning point for me mentioning it on my blog at all instead of being all BOO HISS AMAZON)
These are DRM-Free, meaning you can buy them from Amazon and convert them into whatever format you choose. LEGALLY.

Bless you, Mr. Howey and Mr. Howey’s Publisher. This is the best thing ever.

*covets her newly purchased, legally converted copy of Shift Omnibus*

Go forth and enjoy one of the best dystopian series ever!

Review: Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey

WoolWool Omnibus by Hugh Howey
Read: May 1 – May 7, 2013
Personal read.

Goodreads Book Blurb: This is the story of mankind clawing for survival, of mankind on the edge. The world outside has grown unkind, the view of it limited, talk of it forbidden. But there are always those who hope, who dream. These are the dangerous people, the residents who infect others with their optimism. Their punishment is simple. They are given the very thing they profess to want: They are allowed outside.

My Opinion: I don’t normally do omnibus editions. I don’t normally do short stories. Oh my, am I glad I broke those “rules”, because Wool is hands down the best dystopian I have read in a long time.

I toyed with how to do this review. I wanted to review the work as a whole, but also individually, because the short stories themselves are so intricate.

One thing that is consistent is that Hugh Howey is a fantastic writer. His style is so straightforward and clean. The story keeps moving, and the characters just jump off the page.

One note before I start. This isn’t really a series so much as it is a serial novel. Each section is a direct continuation.

Wool: This is the first volume, and I was completely hooked after I read it. If I had to pick one part to stand alone, this would be it. The suspense is fantastic, and I couldn’t put the book down.

Proper Gauge: The second book is much more introspective, but no less intense. It focuses on the sense of how to ensure things continue running smoothly after you’re gone.

Casting Off: The third book keeps this serial going strong. I love how we are now being shown the differences of community in the Silo, and how a few levels make all the difference.

The Unraveling: OK, the fourth volume is probably my least favorite. We move from a single viewpoint to a multiple viewpoint, and I just don’t feel as drawn into the story here. I especially felt that this part dragged during the Supply bits.

The Stranded: Everything comes to a head, and the pressure is almost too much to handle. Multiple POV continues, but is much more satisfying than the fourth installment.

The Bottom Line: If you get the Omnibus edition, the transition between books is pretty seamless, and it reads like one fantastic dystopian. If you like dystopian, if you think you might like dystopian, or if you hate all dystopian, I recommend you check this book out.

In Which I Read a lot of Graphic Novels

So I recently read a lot of graphic novels in a short period of time. I figured I would do one big review of the lot, instead of individual posts for each. Where I read volumes of a series, I will likely lump them together and review them as such.

Girl Genius, Vol 1 by Phil Foglio
OK, I really liked this storyline. It was steampunk, and I love steampunk. It was super cute and fluffy. The only downside for me was that the art, while well-done, was not in color. I really prefer color graphic novels. But, I think I will be continuing this series.

Locke & Key, Vol 1-2 by Joe Hill
I read the first two volumes in this series, and I am hooked. Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King, and it shows. These graphic novels are so amazingly creepy. Aside from a few really close likenesses, the art is fantastic. And it is in color. This is a series I will definitely continue.

The Walking Dead, Vol 1-5 by Robert Kirkman
I am an avid fan of the TV show, so when I decided to dabble in graphic novels, this was a must. The story is very different from the TV show, but is still really good. And the art, though (grumble) in black in white, is quite good. I will most definitely continue this series.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Volume 2-3 by Joss Whedon
I love Buffy. While the art can be confusing at times with character differentiation, I am adoring this series. And yay, it is in color. The series hasn’t lost any of Joss Whedon’s amazing writing being translated from screen to print, and I am loving the chance to continue my Buffy obsession.

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
This is the first in my graphic novels that I didn’t completely love. I adore the movie, so I was really quite excited to read the graphic novel. But something fell flat. The story is very different, and the art is not very sophisticated at all.

Level Up by Gene Luen Yang
I didn’t enjoy this graphic novel at all. It seemed like it was going to be a fun collide of school and video games. But this was a standard stereotypical Asian family dynamic of parents want one thing, and the kid wants another. The art completely lacked sophistication, and the characters lacked any racial differentiation.

The Golden Twine by Jo Rioux
This was a really cute story with cute art to go along with it. I wished there was more to it, because when I was done I felt a little dissatisfied. I will try and keep an eye out for more of this one, but I don’t know that I will watch it like a hawk.

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
A quintessential read for anyone who enjoys reading the rich history that surrounds the Holocaust. The story meanders, as it is brought to us through Art via his father, but I enjoyed the wandering. The art, however, I wish had been done differently. I would still recommend it, though. Great story.

Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is a fantastic author, so I was really happy to find one of his graphic novels at the library. I had no idea it was a DC comic until the big bad showed up, and then I was a little flabbergasted. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as someone who is very involved in the DC universe might be, but I still loved the art, and the story.

Uzumaki, Vol 3 by Junji Ito
This was probably the biggest disappointment in the lot. But not for the reasons you are thinking. The art, for manga, was really really well done. The story was so creepy in such a delightful way. I mean, the town is infected with spirals. It sounds bizarre, but it was so well done. The disappointment was that the library only had volume three, and so I only got one third of the entire story. And the last third, at that. I will be keeping my eyes out for volumes one and two.

Delphine by Richard Sala
Didn’t enjoy this one much. The story was really confusing, as it jumped around a lot. The sepia-toned art also left something to be desired. Just not as cool as I hoped it would be.

OK, so I have now reviewed a ton of graphic novels. I have some Sandman to read too, but that is absolutely HUGE and will merit its own post.

Do you enjoy graphic novels? Which ones?

Review: Fragments by Dan Wells

FragmentsFragments by Dan Wells (Partials Sequence #2)
Read: April 8 – April 10, 2013
Personal read.

I have decided to exclude a book blurb, to keep this review safe for followers who haven’t read the first book.
(On that note, I advise you to avoid the Goodreads description if you can.)

My Opinion: The middle book in a series is always a little scary. OK. It is a lot scary. I loved the first book Partials so much, that I was highly anticipating the release of Fragments. I got it from the library, dove in, and…

Firmly landed in middle-book-world. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the book, and a lot of good things happened. Most of the questions raised in book one were answered, and of course, more were raised.

But a lot of bad things happened too.

The bad ranged from the pacing (a good portion of this book could have been edited down), to the romance (which, I am sorry to say is not Dan Wells’ strong suit), to some horrendously bad prose (Kira pulls her gun out twice in one paragraph).

While the good didn’t entirely redeem the book in my mind, it was a start. As I already said, we get some answers, which is so important to me. The action sequences are really well written, and the book has less politics than the first book. I also really enjoyed how the Partials themselves went from faceless evil to a more complex entity in Fragments.

We get to know more about the world that exists after the Partial War, and we get to know more about what led to the Partial War. It reads a little dry at times, but the information itself is really well thought out.

Bottom Line: A standard middle book that both satisfies and frustrates.

Review: Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

Shades of GreyShades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
Read: March 18 – 30, 2013
Book club selection – dystopia genre

Book Blurb: Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color—but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.

Eddie’s world wasn’t always like this. There’s evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.

Eddie, who works for the Color Control Agency, might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey from the dark, unlit side of the village. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good. Together, they engage in dangerous revolutionary talk.

Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved Thursday Next but want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey.

My Opinion: NO. Not THAT Shades of Grey. That is what I found myself saying the most when I told people I was reading this book. This shares nothing with the Twilight fanfic spinoff other than a similar name. So don’t worry.

Shades of Grey is a fantastic book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it for book club, and I think I would have enjoyed reading it a bit more if it hadn’t been broken into chunks.

The beginning is very slow and plodding. Fforde takes his sweet time with worldbuilding, but it very much pays off in the end. The narrative is amazing. There is humor, there is wit, and the book dumps you on your butt and kicks you along. No leisurely strolls through the park, here.

The plot twists are sensational. Just when you think you know what is going to happen, it twists. And then it twists again. And once more just for good measure.

I found that Jasper Fforde did an exceptional job with characters as well as world-building. I felt connected to the characters, once the worldbuilding was out of the way. I cared what happened to them.

I really don’t know what else to say that won’t spoil the book.

Bottom Line: I loved this book, and you should totally read it. But not now. Wait until the rest of the series is out. Book two has been pushed back to 2015 as of right now. I think I might die a little inside waiting that long.

Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

The GiverThe Giver by Lois Lowry
Read: March 10, 2013
Book club selection – dystopia genre

Book Blurb: Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

My Opinion: My first thought upon completing this book was that it belonged alongside the likes of 1984. I was actually quite stunned to find it had been published in my lifetime.

The Giver is a really interesting book to me, because it sparks so much discussion among those who have read it. I read it over a month ago, so some of the finer details are already fuzzy, but I recall thinking it wasn’t really a children’s book. Then I encountered people who felt it was too simplified, which is well within their right to think of course, but hard to determine. Where do we draw the line?

I don’t dabble in politics much (or really, at all) so the claims of The Giver being simply a piece of anti-socialism propaganda are a little outside of my realm of comfort and knowledge. But I will say it is hardly the first time a book has shaken things up in the political sense, and I doubt it will be the last.

For me, I enjoyed The Giver. The quick change from utopia to dystopia is not something I have seen very often, at least in contemporary works, and it was a really refreshing change. I find a lot of the dystopian novels I read are very cut and dried that they are dystopian. There is not something missing, there is not something more. Yet, here we have a distinct lack that is pointed out in a big way. I don’t want to give away the whole book, so I won’t go into any more detail, but I loved the way it was told.

In some ways, The Giver is very much a children’s novel. The characters are not really delved into very much, though I was very appreciative that Jonas was portrayed very much as a standard young man. He didn’t read as older or younger than his years, which is something that can be hard to do when writing a younger character… especially in a situation where the world they are dealing with is so heavy.

The writing was technically fine, and I enjoyed the narrative voice. It kept the story moving at a good pace.

The story of The Giver is hard to define. I really wanted more details, and that is where I feel it very much fell flat. Given more details, more worldbuilding, this novel could have been truly magnificent. And the ending was the kind that drives readers insane, and not in a good way.

Bottom Line: A children’s utopian/dystopian novel surrounded in so many opinions that I hesitate to add my own voice. I feel like you will either really like it or really not, and I encourage you to pick it up and see which category you fall into.