Book Review: ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go’ by Patrick Ness

Book Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go

Author: Patrick Ness

Genre: Dystopia / Science Fiction

Summary: This is the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy and is set in a futuristic world on another planet, called “New World”. The native Spackle are blamed for releasing a germ that killed all women and left the men with the Noise, which is a constant barrage of information as men can hear one another’s thoughts all the time. Todd is the only boy Prentisstown, and will not be a man until his thirteenth birthday. A month before Todd is to become a man he flees Prentisstown, only to discover the town does not want to let him go and he must outrun an army if he is to understand the many secrets that have been kept from him.

Favourite Scene: My favourite is actually a major spoiler … So my second favourite … Nope, that’s a pretty bad spoiler too. Hrm … OK … My favourite “thing” about this book was the representation of the Noise – the visual depiction of the Noise on the page was very effective and revealed a lot about the different male characters. I really appreciated the use of formatting to give the Noise “character”!

Favourite Character: Manchee!

Review: I opened this book and saw words like ‘thru’ and ‘stayshun’ and shuddered. Then I read the first page. And the second. And, typical of my reading habits, I closed the book in the early hours of the morning. Last week I gave a pretty brutal review of Eve … this week, I can gain some literary karma points with absolute OMGTHISISAWESOME raving about Patrick Ness’ first book in his amazing series. The narrative is nothing less than brilliant. Despite being told from Todd’s perspective and thus lending towards his point of view, the characters are believable and each have their own strong voices. The language – including the “ain’t” and the “thru” and the numerous variations on spelling – is honest in its representation of a young, uneducated boy trying to articulate his experiences. In The Knife of Never Letting Go the character of Todd becomes so real that you cannot help but trust him, cheer for him, cry for him, and feel a terrible sense of anxious anticipation as he tries to reach Haven. This sort of book is exactly why I think young adult fiction should be given a new name more appealing to “adults” – it’s not a book only for “young adults”. If you’re new to dystopian settings, read this book. If you appreciate unique characters and use of language, read this book. If you enjoy a good story, read this book. If you have air in your lungs, read this book. The only negative thing I could say about The Knife of Never Letting Go is this: if you don’t have the other two books in the Chaos Walking trilogy beside you while you read the first, you may find yourself wandering the streets at 3am searching for a 24 hour bookstore.

Book Review: ‘Scrivener’s Moon’ by Philip Reeve

Book Title: Scrivener’s Moon

Author: Philip Reeve

Genre: Science Fiction

Summary: The third book in the prequel series to the Mortal Engines series explores Fever’s journey as London comes into being and the war between the moving cities and the Anti-Traction League takes root. The history of the Ancients is given more light as Fever tries to understand who she is, what she is, and where she fits into the world.

Favourite Scene: Fever’s feverish request for a kiss from Cluny.

Favourite Character: Fever. Of course, I’ve loved her since the beginning but her development in Scrivener’s Moon simply makes her more loved.

Review: Fever … Fever … Oh, Fever … talk about an intricate character! I love, love, LOVE her development in this novel as Reeve explores the background to her race, her identity independent of her grandfather’s memories and knowledge in her head, and her sexuality. The history that underpins London’s creation is given a lot of attention and I’m super excited to learn that Reeve “woke up the other morning with the first few chapters of a new book in [his] head“. Bliss! Yes, I’m a fan. A total, feverish, crazed fan. Haven’t read any of his books yet? What are you waiting for?!

Book Review: ‘A Web of Air’ by Philip Reeve

Book Title: A Web of Air

Author: Philip Reeve

Genre: Science Fiction

Summary: Set two years after Fever Crumb, this book continues to explore the ‘prequel’ setting before the Mortal Engines series begins. As she builds a flying machine with Arlo and dodges the assassins who seek to thwart their plans (and progress their own politics), Fever learns more about herself and we learn more about the intricacies behind the futuristic world.

Favourite Scene: The opening scene in which Ruan runs around with a tragic French “accent”. Too adorable.

Favourite Character: Arlo. I know it’s cliche to like one of the main characters, but seriously … He’s so well-written!

Review:  I love the way Fever is slowly becoming a stronger, more intricate person in this book. The conflict in her character between reason and emotion as she experiences first love and questions the purpose to her life provides a rich exploration of identity and personal development. I especially love the relationships she has with the children and the way the conflict affects her decisions and interactions with others. She is one of my favourite characters … ever.

Book Review: ‘Fever Crumb’ by Philip Reeve

Book Title: Fever Crumb

Author: Philip Reeve

Genre: Science Fiction

Summary: Written as a prequel to Reeve’s Mortal Engines series, Fever Crumb follows the character of Fever, a young girl raised by Dr Crumb in the Order of Engineers. Her upbringing as a rational, logical person is put to the test when she is asked to assist in an archaelogical dig beyond the only home she has ever known. In searching for answers and knowledge Fever also searches for her identity and an understanding as to who – and what – she is while the city of London – and the world – approaches great change.

Favourite Scene: Fever travels on London Transport and wears an oyster shell around her neck; I love the allusion to the oyster cards used in London and how the practice has been appropriated for the novel! Reeve’s vision of how contemporary western culture is transformed in the future is truly fascinating.

Favourite Character: I love Fever however I would feel especially bias if I chose her as ‘favourite’ – not to mention a tad cliche! I found Bagman Creech to be a fascinating character; while he is the bad guy – and a genocidal one at that – he has such conviction and such a sense of ‘right and wrong’ that I couldn’t help but appreciate Reeve’s construction of a character whose ‘badness’ doesn’t make him bad.

Review: It’s no secret that I love Philip Reeve. I absorbed the four books in the Mortal Engines series in two days and spent a week afterward fretting over them and wishing they hadn’t ended. Reeve writes beautifully and has a strong voice which easily transports you far away when you open any of his novels. With Fever Crumb, Reeve’s vision of the future embraces (and criticises) the legacy that contemporary western culture will leave for the future. Fever’s journey continues in A Web of Air and Scrivener’s Moon thus her development as a character is not complete in Fever Crumb. Instead, Fever Crumb sets up the background for Fever’s continuing development of self alongside the development of London as it becomes the London depicted in the Mortal Engines series. She is a wonderful character and she is surrounded by equally detailed, brilliantly written characters – as opposed to stock-standard page-fillers who lack individuality and personal purpose! Read the books properly – Mortal Engines first, then move on to the prequels. Seriously. Pack tissues, turn off the phone, and let Reeve take you away.

Book Review: ‘A Darkling Plain’ by Philip Reeve

Book Title: A Darkling Plain

Author: Philip Reeve

Genre: Science Fiction

Summary: The fourth and final book in the Mortal Engines series! GASP! It picks up the pieces left behind in the first three novels and follows Hester and Shrike, Wren and Tom, and a few other characters as the Green Storm do just that – storm through the novel with a zeal for restoration of the earth that leaves you trembling with disbelief, respect, and completely wide eyes.

Favourite Scene: The gradual decay of a certain pair of bodies with a certain watchful guardian beside them.

Favourite Character: Stalker Fang. Seriously. The duality of her character is stunning, beautifully written, and entirely believable.

Review:  LOVE! This book could not be pried from my fingers while I read it – well into the evening and into the early hours of the morning. I pulled off the packaging as soon as it arrived in my mailbox and I was gone for the rest of the day. The brilliance of Green Storm as environmental activism to the extreme with Stalker Fang’s amazing characterisation made for an excellent, enjoyable examination of environmentalism today. The ending of the novel left me squealing (just a tad) and wanting to pick up the first and enjoy the serious all over again. And I love, love, love Tom and Hester.