The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness, Book Review

Goodreads 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 Review 

Rating: 4.5*

I’m not quite sure where to start with this book as I have some conflicting opinions on it, but before I dive into my review this book certainly wins the award for Best Opening Line:

“The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say.”

There may be spoilers if you haven’t read it yet.

What I didn’t like was the incessant nature of the violence and the running of the main charcters, Todd and Viola. I actually found it exhausting. Some moments to pause and catch your breath as a reader may have made the action more shocking. I’m the kind of reader that will stay up all night reading a book if I’m enjoying it, but this book required frequent breaks.

I did, however, like the main characters. Their relationship developed nicely and didn’t feel contrived. My favourite was Manchee the dog and (SPOILER ALERT!!!) I’m not sure if I’ve forgiven Patrick Ness for killing him off. I was genuinely distressed at his demise (SPOILER OVER!!!)I also liked how the world the author created was three dimensional, if at times a little hard to picture due to the amount of detail he provided.

Also, I must applaude the author for not patronising his younger audience. He did not shy away from the horror on account of protecting young minds. I think if he had done that the book would not be what it is, which is a fantastic read, thought provoking, and lingers in the mind long after you’ve reached the end.

All told, a must read book.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Book Review

 

Goodreads Blurb

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved — that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt — among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life — and love — in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready? 

My Review

Rating: 5*

I love books like this. Why? Because the writing is outstanding? No. Because the characters are so three dimensional that they feel real? No. Because it’s educational? No. I’m not saying that any, or all, of those things aren’t true about “Ready Player One,” but that’s not why I love it so.

I love it so because Ernest Cline made me want to be in it, in the story. I wanted to be a “Gunter” with Parzival and Artemis. I wanted to hang out in the basement with Aech playing Pac-Man. It made me want to go back to my youth, a child of the ’80’s, and watch all of those movies and play all of those games through Wade’s eyes. I wanted to find the pot of gold at the end of Halliday’s rainbow.

In simple, I love books like this because they’re so much fun! I never wanted it to end. And the fact that, not only did I enjoy it, but so did my 17 year old son and my 67 year old dad, well, if that’s not recommendation enough for you to strap on your visor, pull on your haptic gloves and dive head first into the OASIS I don’t know what is.

Happy hunting!

Heaven by Christoph Marzi – Book Review

Goodreads Blurb

The night that Heaven lost her heart was cold and moonless. But the blade that sliced it out was warm with her dark blood…

David Pettyfer is taking a shortcut over the dark rooftops of London’s brooding houses, when he literally stumbles across Heaven: a strange, beautiful, distraught girl who says that bad men have stolen her heart. Yet she’s still alive…

And so begins David and Heaven’s wild, exciting and mysterious adventure—to find Heaven’s heart, and to discover the incredible truth about her origins.

Part thriller, part love story and part fairy tale, this brilliantly original novel from a bestselling German author will take your breath away…

My Review

Rating: 4*

This book was a real surprise. It had a gauzy, ethereal feel to it and I loved that it was set in the familiar streets of London. I was immediately taken with the premise of a girl, found on the roof of a city building by a young lad doing parkour, who says her heart’s been stolen.

I found Marzi’s writing to be confident, his characters were intriguing and likeable, and I found myself to be quite captivated by his story. I’ll definitely look out for what else this author goes on to write.

Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth, Book Review

 

Goodreads Blurb

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times best-selling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

 

My Review

My rating: 2.5*

Imagine you’re a child. You’re just about old enough to understand what Christmas is because you’ve just had it, and you’re already looking forward to the next one. Unwrapping presents is so much fun! It’s exciting, mysterious. What will be inside?

But it’s January and you have a whole year to wait. You wish the time away, wish it to speed up, go faster, because you can’t wait for Christmas to come, yet no amount of wishing makes it come any sooner. You have to be patient. Wait. 

Days pass.

Weeks.

Months.

Until eventually it’s December again and Christmas is coming! Finally, the day arrives. You get up, a year older with a years worth of excitement contained within you. But still you have to wait, because you can’t open your presents till after dinner and, as much as you enjoy the day, you can’t help thinking about unwrapping your presents.

What will be in them? you wonder.

Until, at last! Its time.

Slowly you peel of the pretty wrapping paper. You open the box, a delighted smile waiting to be worn on your face. You open the box, lift the lid, anticipation making your fingers tremble, and inside are…the rotted bones of your favourite pet.

That’s how I feel about this book.

On a technical note, it’s well written, though it lacks the fun element I so enjoyed in Divergent.

That’s all.

Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver, Book Review

 

Goodreads Blurb

Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has transformed. The nascent rebellion that was underway in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight. After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven. Pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels.

As Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain of the Wilds, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor. Requiem is told from both Lena and Hana’s points of view. They live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.

 

My Review

Rating: 3*

I’ve been all around the houses with the Delirium trilogy. This is a series I wanted to love but, sadly, didn’t.

Why not?

It’s a great concept, a scary concept, where love — amor deliria nervosa — is the enemy, a disease that afflicts and infects humanity and, therefore, must be eradicated. Snippets of the movie Equilibrium kept flashing through my head, and I really enjoyed that movie.

So why not this series?

I can only repeat my issue with book 2 (Pandemonium) — there simply isn’t enough suspense, intrigue, to really get the juices flowing and the heart pounding.

That’s why I don’t love it.

The thing I did enjoy, more than the story, is Lauren Oliver’s writing. Perhaps I didn’t notice it in the first two books, or perhaps her writing has developed, but I found parts of this book to be a joy to read. I found her sentence structure and word selection in places to be a pleasure to read. For example:

“They will want to string the symbol up, and make it bleed meaning, so other’s will learn their lesson.”

Simple yet effective. I like when a collection of words paint a mental picture and also have a sub-context at the same time, and I found much of that in this book. But I think I enjoyed Ms Oliver’s often adept use of words more than the story.

And therein lies the main problem for me with this book. It’s like having a plate full of tasty ‘amuse bouche’ and being told that’s dinner. No matter how tasty and well cooked each of those treats are it’s just not satisfying enough to fill you up. I’m a glutton with books, I like to feel my head is full of the intrigue and anticipation that bubbles away inside you when you are reading a really great story told well. This falls a little short on that front.

I also enjoyed hearing Hana’s story. I just wish there had been more trickery, more surprises, in how the story unfolded. Unfortunately this is a series that will not linger in my mind, but I will be interested to see what Ms Oliver writes next.

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer, Book Review

Goodreads Blurb

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling instalment of the best-selling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison–even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her.

As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

 

My Review

Rating: 3.5*

Sadly this book didn’t grab me as much as Cinder did. It felt a little bit patchy for me, my interest wasn’t sustained throughout the entirety of the book as it was with the first one. 

I did like the new characters and the fact that we had two threads to follow. This book was more complex than the first and I admire what the author is trying do in adding complexity and depth to the series as a whole. I don’t think it was entirely successful but it was certainly not a failure in that respect, and I am prepared to attribute it to second-book-syndrome.

There won’t be any sleepless nights for me while waiting for the next book but I will read it as there is enough good writing and interest in the plot and the characters for me to continue.

Crewel (Crewel World #1) by Gennifer Albin, Book Review

 Goodreads Blurb

Incapable. Awkward. Artless. 
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail. 

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because tonight, they’ll come for her.

My Review

This book doesn’t really inspire me to write a review but because it’s such a mixed bag I feel I must.

Rating: 2.5* on merit. (Wish I could give it a higher rating  because I don’t feel a 2* would be fair as there is a lot of good work in this book, but in good faith I can’t give it a 3*.)

I wanted to like this book and there were things about it that I did like. The writing is good and I can’t criticize Albin’s imagination. Where the problem starts for me is with her ability to clearly express what she is seeing inside her head. 

I once had a maths teacher who was extremely gifted when it came to understanding mathematical concepts, but her teaching ability was non-existent. In a matter of months I went from someone who loved maths and was competent at it to someone who struggled to the point of hating maths. If you can’t convey what’s inside you in a way where others can connect with it then it loses it’s magic, it’s power. That’s how this book made me feel. Albin had a wonderful idea with Crewel, full of originality and potential, but somewhere between concept and the page, the clarity was lost in transition.

The main character, Adelice, I found to be bland for want of a better word, and her two cohorts were much the same, resulting in my feelings of indifference towards them. The antagonists where actually much more interesting characters, more believable, more rounded.

My other major issue with this book was the dead air in the middle section of the book. I appreciate that Albin was trying to give a real insight into what Adelice’s life with the Spinsters was like but it needed more grit. There wasn’t much to get my teeth into; it was pleasant enough but uninspiring and that frustrated me because I was actually interested in the possibilities of what might have happened.

The end, however, was what I’d wished for throughout the book, and certainly went some way to appeasing my earlier frustrations. There was some clarity, finally, some action and some interesting, if not totally unexpected, revelations. Sadly, it was too little, too late to change my overall opinion of this book, though I may now be tempted to read the next one…