The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

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The Knife of Never Letting Go
Patrick Ness
Goodreads

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?

 

Review:

This is a book that had been raved about by many of my friends but I’d always overlooked because I’d never been impressed by the summary.  Shows me what I know.  I shouldn’t go judging the book by its blurb because it was so much better than the summary made it sound.  It was an epic adventure.  A lot of books advertise an adventure but this truly was one, traversing an interesting, unique world in a way that I’ve never really seen.

It took me a little bit of time to get into this book because of how it’s written.  Certain words are deliberately misspelled to illustrate the education level and different-ness of the characters, namely the men of Prentisstown.  A couple of times, it threw me out of the book but I was able to climb back in and eventually I got used to the style and grew to enjoy it because it’s so unlike things I’ve read before.

The book also keeps the aura of mystery going for a long time so you’re constantly wondering what about Prentisstown is so bad, why is Todd so wanted, what are the Spackle, and where did the Noise come from?  The questions do get answered but they’re drawn out, speckled here and there to keep you interested and boy, I was kept interested.

I cried a lot when Manchee’s fate was revealed.  I love that dog.  So did Todd.

The ending was a great setup for the future books.  It was desolate, sad and left you hanging with even more questions now that you’d had some answers.  Time to jump into book number two!

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Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

29939148Never Let You Go
Chevy Stevens
Goodreads

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life.

Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

Review:

I’ve been on a bit of a thriller kick lately so the summary of this book caught my attention.  Don’t read me wrong, I don’t yearn to read about abusive relationships and the such but I was intrigued because I knew that the book wouldn’t be as cut and dried as the summary and I was interested to see how the author could make it both mysterious and affecting.

Lindsay escaped an abusive husband but just barely.  She and her daughter, Sophie, disappeared into the night, leaving Andrew, the abuser, behind.  Ten years later, Andrew is out of prison and he ends up in the same place as Lindsay and Sophie. When strange, scary things start happening to Lindsay and around Lindsay’s house, she naturally thinks it’s Andrew.  I didn’t think it was ever going to be Andrew because that would be too obvious and while I picked the person behind the whole thing pretty early on, the reason why they were doing what they were doing caught me off guard.  My eyes widened and I blinked a few times so congratulations on getting me with that twist.  I was impressed.

The only real nitpick I had was that I could never really connect with the Jared character.  I kept waiting for him to turn out to be some murderer just by how he treated Sophie and how he was being set up.  It was probably a false flag, something to make the reader think he could be the one doing the tormenting but every single time he was around, I was uncomfortable.  Sophie was too good for him.

Overall, an enjoyable book with a pretty good twist.  It’s an easy read, not something you have to really use too much brain power to understand but still a fast paced thriller that makes you want to keep turning the page.

 

Sister Sister by Sue Fortin

33654421Sister Sister
Sue Fortin
Goodreads

From the bestselling author of The Girl Who Lied

Alice: Beautiful, kind, manipulative, liar.

Clare: Intelligent, loyal, paranoid, jealous.

Clare thinks Alice is a manipulative liar who is trying to steal her life.

Alice thinks Clare is jealous of her long-lost return and place in their family.

One of them is telling the truth. The other is a maniac. Two sisters. One truth.

Review:

With the last book I read being a disappointing mess, I really wanted to find something that was both enjoyable and fast paced to keep my attention.  Glad to say that this book did it and did it pretty well.  It’s not a new idea, someone coming into a protagonists life and trying to take it over, but it still reads suspenseful and interesting.

At a young age, Clare Kennedy’s father took her sister Alice away.  This is the story of Alice’s return.  It’s what should be a joyous occasion but it turns out to be anything but that.  Alice worms her way into Clare’s life in a way that makes Clare incredibly uncomfortable.  She flirts with Clare’s husband, ingratiates herself to Clare’s kids, and wraps Clare’s mother up in a way that turns her against Clare herself.

The reader instantly knows that something is amiss.  That this person, Alice, grew up to a terrible person or that this person isn’t Alice at all.  It’s hard to read some of this and see how deep the mistrust and disbelief goes when it comes to Clare’s family and her assertions about Alice.  Of course, they’re not experiencing what Clare is but I was visibly wincing at how Clare’s husband, Luke, treated her.  Harsh words, aggressive posturing and calling her crazy were just awful things to read.  Again, I can’t really put myself in his shoes because the story’s told from Clare’s point of view but I don’t know if a simple apology would have made me forgive Luke.

Overall though, this is a good twisty story that’s dark and disturbing and interesting.  It’s an easy read, making it easy to pick up on a moment’s notice and dig into.  I enjoyed the ride and while there are parts that I don’t agree with, it was an overall satisfying book that erased the bad taste the last book left in my mouth.

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

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Six Wakes
Mur Lafferty
Goodreads

A space adventure set on a lone ship where the clones of a murdered crew must find their murderer — before they kill again.

It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood.

At least, Maria Arena had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died. That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died.

Maria’s vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. And Maria wasn’t the only one to die recently…

Review:

So, the summary is the best part of this book. It made this novel sound like it was going to be a fast paced, tense, tightly wound book about a killer and their victims confined to a small ship. And while that did happen, it ended up just being…slow and a little boring. Not terrible but not great.

The Dormire is a ship crewed by clones who are criminals and who are in charge of 2500 souls in exchange for a clean slate once they get to a new planet. Sounds like a good setup. Then, a mass murder happens, the ability to clone is taken away from the crew and the killer is still loose. Still sounds cool? Then, the book just slows to a crawl while we learn about the new characters. Not a bad thing, to get some background on these six people but it just slogged. It stopped otherwise tense moments in their tracks and I was never really invested in finding out who the murderer was because, by the end, I was bored.

It also takes a detour every once in awhile into politics which, again, has its place but I was expecting a murder mystery/thriller and instead got several chapters on the ethics of cloning and the political ramifications of clones living among humans. Slowed that tension down once again which was unfortunate because while I would have liked reading a book that centers on the politics and ethics of cloning, it seemed to have been shoved into a book where I was expecting something else.

I did come to like Hiro, the ship’s pilot, who had been mentally abused in his past and was the unfortunate recipient of something called a yadokari (or multiple memories from multiple clones shoved in his head). He was the most interesting to me of all the characters and I wish he could have been around more.

The ending was far, far too tidy as well. One character figured everything out, figured out how to save the crew and then did it. Wrapped up in a little bow, happily ever after, kisses and everything. Just didn’t satisfy me at all.

At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson

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At the Edge of the Universe
Shaun David Hutchinson
Goodreads

Tommy and Ozzie have been best friends since second grade, and boyfriends since eighth. They spent countless days dreaming of escaping their small town—and then Tommy vanished.

More accurately, he ceased to exist, erased from the minds and memories of everyone who knew him. Everyone except Ozzie.

Ozzie doesn’t know how to navigate life without Tommy, and soon suspects that something else is going on: that the universe is shrinking.

When Ozzie is paired up with new student Calvin on a physics project, he begins to wonder if Calvin could somehow be involved. But the more time they spend together, the harder it is for him to deny the feelings developing between them, even if he still loves Tommy.

But Ozzie knows there isn’t much time left to find Tommy–that once the door closes, it can’t be opened again. And he’s determined to keep it open as long as possible.

Review:

The universe is shrinking and it’s taking all of Oswald Pinkerton’s treasured memories and most important people with it.  That blurb was enough to interest me and, along with being written by one of my favorite authors, Shaun David Hutchinson, made me plow through this book very quickly.  It was exquisite.  After coming off such a terrible book, I was looking for something affecting, poignant, and memorable.  This fit the bill and then some.  It was a beautifully written book, a coming of age tale with a bit of a science fiction vibe and I loved it dearly.

The book centers around one Oswald Pinkerton who had a boyfriend named Tommy that no one remembers.  They all think he’s crazy, that he’s made up Tommy and, at times, the reader thinks that too.  But there are other times where you say to yourself ‘he can’t have possibly made up all this history’ so Tommy has to be real and there has to be some other explanation for it.  I won’t go too far into what the explanation is but let’s say there is some room for forming your own opinions.

This book is filled with colorful characters, main and supporting, and they all get a bit of their own story.  Calvin, the broody, emo boy that Ozzie thinks he might have feelings for even though he thinks he’s betraying Tommy.  Lua, Ozzi’s genderqueer best friend, a rock star in the making who seems comfortable in her own skin but is hiding a lot of emotional issues.  Dustin, the intelligent as hell stoner who appears to have it all together but doesn’t.  Trent, the idiot jock who has a lot more going on beneath his exterior.  They’re all wonderfully written and developed and I cared about everyone.  Even Trent, the prototypical asshole, was given enough depth and backstory that you couldn’t not care for him.

This book takes the well tread question of ‘who are we on our own?’ and turns it on his head.  It throws in something as sinister as the universe shrinking, of history being rewritten around you and no one else remembering your yesterdays but you.  In high school, the majority of people are concerned about popularity, about hooking up and having friends that they lose sight of who they are and what they want to do and that’s the big theme in this story.  Finding yourself and knowing yourself as you.  Without your boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend attached at your hip.

I could see a lot of myself in this story.  No, the universe isn’t shrinking for me but I understand how it feels to be in the middle of divorced parents.  How high school can scar you in so many ways and how it’s hard to know what to do with your life.  This book is realistic in that fact.  It doesn’t make things easy for these kids.  They go through hell and they come out the other side changed.  They don’t heal in just a few chapters.  It was real and it was good.  It was so, so good.

Shooter by Caroline Pignat

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Shooter
Caroline Pignat
Goodreads

A lockdown catches five grade 12 students by surprise and throws them together in the only unlocked room on that empty third floor wing: the boys’ washroom. They sit in silence, judging each other by what they see, by the stories they’ve heard over the years. Stuck here with them–could anything be worse?
There’s Alice: an introverted writer, trapped in the role of big sister to her older autistic brother, Noah.
Isabelle: the popular, high-achieving, student council president, whose greatest performance is her everyday life. 
Hogan: an ex-football player with a troubled past and a hopeless future.
Xander: that socially awkward guy hiding behind the camera, whose candid pictures of school life, especially those of Isabelle, have brought him more trouble than answers.
Told in five unique voices through prose, poetry, text messages, journals, and homework assignments, each student reveals pieces of their true story as they wait for the drill to end. But this modern-day Breakfast Club takes a twist when Isabelle gets a text that changes everything: NOT A DRILL!! Shooter in the school!
Suddenly, the bathroom doesn’t seem so safe anymore. Especially when they learn that one of them knows more about the shooter than they realized…

Review:

I had high hopes for this book because I enjoy books that put characters into one single setting and see how they shake out.  I think it can make for interesting interaction especially if the characters are written strongly and there’s a plot thread that’s keeping them together.  Unfortunately, this book fails on each of those points.  The characters are cliched and the plot, while relevant to today, is presented in a fantastical nature that makes little sense.  While I finished this book in one day, it was spite reading more than anything else.

The first thing that stuck in my craw about this book is how absolutely cliched the characters are: the popular girl, the quiet nerd, the ex-jock with a troubled past, the plain girl.  They were all there and there was absolutely nothing special or memorable about any of them.  I grew to absolutely hate, Isabelle, the popular girl first and the rest soon thereafter.  They were cardboard cutouts of the highest degree.  If the author’s intended effect was to make me not sympathize with the characters, then mission accomplished because I did not.  I didn’t feel fear for them, didn’t want them to pull through, didn’t want anything to happen but the book to end because I knew that everything was going to be tied up with a neat bow (and I was not wrong).

Then, we have the plot.  A lockdown traps them together and, in what could have been a tense, tightly woven plot about kids trying to survive a shooter and each other, turns into a group of kids using something as terrible as a lockdown to reveal deep, dark secrets to each other.  It just didn’t work for me.  I cannot see using a lockdown as a means to grow closer to your fellow students.  And then, to top it all off, the group turns into the Scooby Gang and figures out who the shooter is and what he has planned and manages to stop it all.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to read a book about a school shooting taking place but again, it just seemed implausible and fantastical in nature.  These kids managed to bond and then stop a tragic incident all in sixty minutes.

I think this subject matter was handled much better in Violent Ends.  That book was much more real, much more nuanced and affected me in a much deeper manner than Shooter.

A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman

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A House at the Bottom of the a Lake
Josh Malerman
Goodreads

Both seventeen. Both afraid. But both saying yes.

It sounded like the perfect first date: canoeing across a chain of lakes, sandwiches and beer in the cooler. But teenagers Amelia and James discover something below the water’s surface that changes their lives forever.

It’s got two stories.

It’s got a garden.

And the front door is open.

It’s a house at the bottom of a lake.

For the teens, there is only one rule: no questions. And yet, how could a place so spectacular come with no price tag? While the duo plays house beneath the waves, one reality remains:

Just because a house is empty, doesn’t mean nobody’s home.

Review:

Like Bird Box, the other book written by Josh Malerman, this is a very atmospheric book.  It relies a lot on the sights, the sounds, the feel of the world around James and Amelia, the two main protagonists, to set the scene and drive up the tension.  It’s not entirely successful but it doesn’t fail either.  The concept of the book was supremely creepy and I was eager to get into it but it provided to be a little more bark than bite.

The book revolves around two teenagers, James and Amelia, discovering a perfectly pristine house at the bottom of the lake.  An impossible house where nothing is affected by the water surrounding it and no knick knack or item is out of place.  Everything is situated exactly as it should be in a house and thus, this is the atmosphere that we’re thrust into.  The darkness of the house, the impossibility of its existence and that nagging, creeping sense that it’s not right but it’s too fantastical to question.

James and Amelia become obsessed, spending all their time in diving gear, exploring the house.  They lose their virginity there, fall in love there and when the house is taken away, they lose each other.  They can’t exist with each other without the specter of the house.  It should be sad but I was more confused than anything.  Malerman has a penchant for doing this, making his books ambiguous so the reader can come to his own conclusions.  I would have liked to have a little more on the house but alas, it did not come true.

I think the crushing, horrible blackness of the dark was done better in Nick Cutter’s The Deep but this book wasn’t bad.  It was short, moved well, and was creepy in points but it just didn’t cross the line to really freak me out.  Still worth a few hours of time.