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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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.

The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

28260402 The Song Rising
Samantha Shannon
Goodreads

The hotly anticipated third book in the bestselling Bone Season series – a ground-breaking, dystopian fantasy of extraordinary imagination

Following a bloody battle against foes on every side, Paige Mahoney has risen to the dangerous position of Underqueen, ruling over London’s criminal population.

But, having turned her back on Jaxon Hall and with vengeful enemies still at large, the task of stabilising the fractured underworld has never seemed so challenging.

Little does Paige know that her reign may be cut short by the introduction of Senshield, a deadly technology that spells doom for the clairvoyant community and the world as they know it…

Review:

This is the third book in a planned seven book series and it’s certainly reads like a middle book as well.  It’s very, very much a book that’s going to set up the last half of the series and that’s okay!  Considering the breadth and reach that Samantha Shannon seems to want to reach with this series, there needs to be a book of setting things up, moving things into place and making sure everything is ready to go for a final four books.

It had been awhile since I’d read book two so it took me a few pages to settle back in with these characters and the world.  This is a book about clairvoyants, the unnaturals of Scion London who just want to be allowed to live their lives but due to their abilities, find that hard.  The regular folks want them eliminated, taken out and killed or sent to penal colonies away from them.

Paige Mahoney is the Underqueen, the leader of all the unnaturals and a greatly sympathetic character.  The girl takes a beating and gets up to keep going.  She is mentally and physically pushed to her limits and she’s still standing by the book’s end.  I think that were Paige a less well written character, the books would suffer because a lot of the story relies on her.  She’s very flawed, makes mistakes, and does all of this while she’s only nineteen!  I need to rethink some of my life choices.

My only minor quibble with this book and this series is the romance between Paige and Warden.  It’s so off and on that I’ve gotten bored with the will they/won’t they.  I know the point is to create tension but I’ve become far more interested in Paige separately and Warden separately than when they come together. Hopefully the author decides what to do with them in the next book or I fear this will get worse.

Warcoss by Marie Lu

29385546Warcross

Marie Lu

Goodreads

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Review:

So this book is good. It’s very good. It’s fun and exciting and interesting. I recommend giving it a try if you enjoy anything Hunger Games adjacent. (I know everything gets compared to Hunger Games but that’s the best description I can ever find that everyone will understand.)

The Good:

  • The main character is Quirky but Relatable, has a good backstory and solid motivations through the whole thing.
  • Her characterization is not compromised for the romance.
  • The romance writing itself is verrah good.
  • I count there as being one twist and one reveal. I did not see the twist coming. I saw something on the horizon, but I did not expect it to be what it was. So props for coming up with something original enough that it gave me mild surprise.

The Middle:

  • The romance is a little… rushed. As they often are in novels like this. But if a man is described as closed-off and extremely private, I don’t take well to him telling his life secrets to the first spunky girl he meets after a little more than a month. (Less than? Can’t recall exactly.)

The (Sorta) Bad:

  • I… saw the reveal coming. HOWEVER, that did not stop my enjoyment of the book. I wasn’t 100% sure that the reveal would be what I thought it would be. So I continued to scramble for theories while I went. But, yeah, I was about 80% sure.
  • I. Wanted. More. Team. Stuff. I love team building. I want it. I crave it. And (understandably) Emika has to keep herself closed off from her team a lot. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting more of it in the sequel. Nay, demanding more.

The Audiobook:

  • Very good! I’m having a streak of excellent narrators, which makes me happy. Her inflections were good and, while I have no idea if her pronunciations were good, her Japanese sounded natural. Her French accent could use some work, but that was minimal.

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

33257757Iron Gold

Pierce Brown

Goodreads

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

Review:

Brown does a wonderful job of weaving these four stories together. He has a real skill for diving into the character, showing all of their failings even while showing exactly why they think what they think and choose to do what they do. Darrow especially is a character study in hubris and martyrdom, as well as being the inspirational war hero that he was in the first three books. You can understand why he’s doing the things he’s doing and want to believe that he’s doing the right thing, even while having the sinking feeling of dread that things won’t turn out the way he wants and knowing that he’s making the absolute wrong decision.

The other thing that struck me was how well Brown brings the political into focus without feeling forced. There are some that say that fantasy and scifi should not reflect politics, an argument which I personally find ridiculous, but Brown makes the politics a necessary part of the story. He makes you see the parallels between the roiling Republic and today without feeling heavy-handed. Perhaps this is because the parallels aren’t exact and were never intended to be, but especially in an incident where Lyria visits a museum and is arrested for no cause, I saw a connection to today.

Having listened to the audiobook, I can say that the narration is *almost* top notch. The woman who narrates Lyria’s chapters is especially well-acted, moving me to tears at certain moments. Ephraim’s narrator starts out almost unintelligible thanks to a heavy accent (to my American ears) and tons of techno-speak, but he grows on you to become the second best of the book. Darrow’s narrator is solid, leaving only Lysander’s narrator to fall short, his reading sounding like pure reading rather than anything with real inflection and voice.

The book leaves you with four cliffhangers, four reasons to be lusting after the next book. And I will be. All my favorite characters will be making a return and I’m eager to see what questionable choices they will be making in this amazingly fleshed out world that Brown has brought us.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

28421168Renegades
Marissa Meyer
Goodreads

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Review:

With an intriguing summary and the promise of superheroes and villains, I couldn’t resist picking this book up and giving it a read.  And, overall, I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s hard to really mess up a book about good versus evil and it’s even harder when the author doesn’t show a bias to side of good or the side of evil so the reader can make the choice on who and what they agree with.

The book is, however, a little long in spots.  I think a good fifty to a hundred pages could have been cut off to make it flow a little better but that’s a minor quibble.  The book does have a large cast of secondary characters and the author seems to try and provide some backstory to them even if it’s very brief.  I will admit to not retaining the real names and superhero names of some of the characters because they were glossed over and nothing made them jump out and be memorable.

Adrian and Nova, the two main characters are two sides of a different coin.  One is the son of two of the greatest superheroes in existence and the other is the niece of one of the greatest villains ever.  Nova is full of anger and resentment towards the superheroes and she’s hellbent on bringing them down.  So, she goes undercover, joins the Renegades and in doing so gets closer to Adrian.  There is, of course, the prototypical beginnings of a love story between the two leads and while I could take it or leave it, it was pretty cute and adorable.

As I mentioned earlier, I liked the attention paid to the philosophical part of a world run by superheroes.  How regular people would become lax and lazy and would not help themselves, always relying on someone else to be there.  How they became complacent and unwilling to even try to better themselves.  The villains in the story are still villains but they’re given a good, proper motivation for what they do and what they’re working towards.

My favorite character in the story is the character of Max, the ten year old superhero with a power that’s more dangerous and deadly than anything anyone else has known.  I’m hoping he gets to be a little more of a factor in the next book because of his ties to the main villain and how he helped bring him down.

Overall, not a bad book.  Slow in parts, a little predictable, but enjoyable.  I’ll be reading the follow up.