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.

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The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly–Book Review

 

Goodreads Blurb 

GET READY FOR ACTION ON A GIGANTIC SCALE

A high-concept, action-packed thriller from the bestselling author of SCARECROW AND THE ARMY OF THIEVES.

It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for 40 years. They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world.

Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed. A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr Cassandra Jane ‘CJ’ Cameron, a writer for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC and an expert on reptiles.

The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong…

 

My Review

Rating: 4*

I always look forward to a new Matthew Reilly book and I’ve been spoilt of late. First, there was the pleasure of The Four Lengendary Kingdoms which I listened to in December, then this book, and I have just downloaded The Tournament which I will be listening to next. I mention these other books here to highlight the versatility of this author and how his writing is constantly evolving and improving. One thing that remains the same throughout all of his books, however, is how much fun they are!

What was different about this book is CJ, the first female lead in a Matthew Reilly action book. Matthew Reilly never spends much time delving into the depths of his characters personality and yet, throughout the course of his stories his characters come to life and their personalities shine through. CJ as the hero was no different, except maybe she’s a little more ordinary than Scarecrow and Jack West Jnr, which just goes to make her feats of derring-do all the more impressive. She’s kick-ass, intelligent and brave and I hope we see more of her in the future. I’d like to see where Mr Reilly takes her.

As far as the story itself goes—well, that’s a little more tricky to describe. Let’s say it’s a slightly different take on a story we’ve been told many times before. Comparisons with Jurassic Park are inevitable but I think Reilly’s attention to the details of his creations just about makes it work. And let me tell you, once the action gets going it doesn’t let up, not for a minute. The stage is big, the players are huge and the action is relentless.

All told, it’s not one of my favourites but it’s a solid addition to the Matthew Reilly catalogue that gave me two days of fun.

The Martian by Andy Weir – Book Review

Goodreads Blurb

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills — and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength – he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive – but Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.

Grounded in real, present-day science from the first page to the last, yet propelled by a brilliantly ingenious plot that surprises the reader again and again, The Martian is a truly remarkable thriller: an impossible-to-put-down suspense novel that manages to read like a real-life survival tale.

My Review

Rating: 5*

If a book could be Christmas dinner this book would be it. All your favourite foods on one plate, from crispy goose fat roast potatoes to Yorkshire puddings filled with gravy. You have a few tasty extras, like cranberry sauce and stuffing balls, and a few less tasty extras, like Brussel sprouts and bread sauce, but Christmas dinner wouldn’t be the same without them. In other words, this book is a real feast, a treat for the literary glutton.

I’m not going to talk about the plot, I hate to give spoilers. So I’ll talk about everything but the plot. From the opening line I was hooked. From the opening line I was dreading the final page. I didn’t want it to end and yet I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what became of Mark Watney, Space Pirate.

The miracle of this book is that it reads like the telling of a true story. It is dense with science yet understandable to lay people like me. The fact that it contains so much science I believe is vital to the success of the story. I am by no means an expert but the science feels real and accurate, and it really lends itself to the authenticity of the story, the characterisation, and builds trust between the author and the reader.

Now I want to talk about the humour in the book. It’s not a comedy, it’s not a screwball and it’s not slapstick but, boy, is it funny! Not since I read Grant Naylor’s Red Dwarf twenty-five years ago have I burst out laughing because the funnies were so — well, funny. The humour feels so natural, so effortless, that it adds yet another layer to the already familiar and likeable character of  Mark Watney. It’s the delivery and the timing that creates the much needed humour. The balance that Weir finds between fact, science, fiction and comedy is perfect. He pitches it just right, adding the perfect amount of seasoning to my Christmas dinner.

I’m rather fascinated with space and astronomy, though I have no desire to experience it first hand, being partial to things such as air and gravity. But watching other people explore it and discover it’s hidden secrets is awe inspiring to me. Many a night has passed with my eye pressed up against my too heavy binoculars looking at the moon and thinking of when man walked on it’s very surface. I wasn’t born at the time of the moon landing and have often felt the disappointment of not having been a part of it, even merely as a viewer. Now, though, I feel as though I’ve had my very own voyeuristic space adventure courtesy of Andy Weir and, of course, the indomitable Mark Watney.

And, my, what an adventure it was.

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!

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer, Book Review

 

 

Goodreads Blurb

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

 

My Review

Rating: 5*

Well, what to say about this book!

I love reading books with beautiful prose and vivid descriptions that paint pretty pictures in your mind and carry you away somewhere else.

This book is not one of them. 

This book seems to have taken the other route, the route where the author focuses on the story more than the prose, the characterisation rather than the setting. This is not writing by numbers, this is writing by feel. 

Cinder is an intelligently written story and I like the choices that Meyer makes throughout the book. The writing is clean and simple in the best way possible, you barely notice the writing. It flows, it’s smooth, it’s secondary to the telling of the story. It’s not distracting. Meyer gives you just enough for your mind to fill in the rest. She is not showy with her skill, and I believe it takes a skilled writer to write in such a minimalist way and for the story not to suffer for it. Instead of being carried away by pretty writing, it’s the story itself – and the way Meyer tells it – that draws you in. If she would have written in flowery prose it would have read like the original fairytale, and a fairytale this book is not. Meyer hasn’t re-written Cinderella, Meyer has taken all of the pertinent moments from Cinderella and re-invented it. 

If The Brother’s Grimm were only now writing the fairytale of Cinderella, this is the story they would write.

Bravo, Marissa Meyer.