Category Archives: Young Adult

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

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The Blurb:

We were in the square, in the square where I’d run, holding her, carrying her, telling her to stay alive, stay alive till we got safe, till we got to Haven so I could save her – But there weren’t no safety, no safety at all, there was just him and his men…

Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor’s new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode…

“The Ask and the Answer” is a tense, shocking and deeply moving novel of resistance under the most extreme pressure. This is the second title in the “Chaos Walking” trilogy.

My Review:

As I suspected, I liked “The Ask and the Answer” by Patrick Ness more than the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy – and I came to like Todd Hewitt a good deal more in this novel.

When Todd carries a badly wounded Viola into Haven, they expect that their troubles will be over; that their questions will be answered; that Viola will be able to contact “her people” – colonists who are approaching the world of “Noise”. However, the young protagonists find something completely different to their expectations.

Todd and Viola are forced to separate and throughout the unfolding of this violent and often heartbreaking story, they rarely meet. However, the ties that bind them are extremely strong and their faith and trust in each other brings real life to this story. They meet many devious characters for whom power is the guiding light and Todd has to develop ways of dealing with awful situations and actions in which he had to participate.

In the first book of the trilogy, I was irritated by Todd, but the way his character developed in “The Ask and the Answer” provided much to like and admire. Although some of the things he had to do were despicable, he tried to show compassion. Viola continued to be a strong young woman, growing in strength even in the face of betrayal.

This book was written from the points of view of both Todd and Viola – I think this worked very well and helped to broaden the scope of the story. Their voices are quite different and there was no confusion for me, just added enjoyment. I have admired the work of Patrick Ness for a while now and have no reason to change my views. I think he is an extremely skillful, thoughtful writer and although the Chaos Walking trilogy is aimed at young adults, the questions that we are asked to ponder are applicable at any age.

Needless to say, I have now made a good start on the third book: “Monsters of Men”

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The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

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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:

I was intrigued with the idea of Noise in both men and animals – the ability or disability – to be able to hear what creatures are thinking. This plays a huge part in the development of the plot of “The Knife of Never Letting Go” by Patrick Ness.

The world that has been home to Todd Hewitt is a strange one. Not only is Noise prevalent, but there are no women in the town where Todd grew up. His thirteenth birthday is approaching – the date when he will become a man – when Todd encounters a girl in the nearby swamp. He is totally amazed by this being and also, by her silence. However, this unexpected meeting has enormous consequences for Todd and he is forced to flee from all he knows.

The story centres around Todd and Viola’s attempts to reach the town of Haven, where they are assured they will be safe and learn the answers to their many questions.

I was drawn in by the plot lines, but found that I didn’t like Todd very much; maybe I will warm to him in the next two books in the trilogy. I also found the constant running rather monotonous! However, despite these feelings, I’ve moved on to the next book, “The Ask and the Answer” straight away!

About the Author:370361

Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.

He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London.

My Name is Victoria by Lucy Worsley

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This book, which is aimed at older children/young teenagers, tells us of the lives of two girls named Victoria. The more famous of these two is the Princess Victoria, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. With the death of a number of her uncles, she becomes heir to the throne of Great Britain. The other Victoria is “Miss V.”, the daughter of Sir John Conroy. She is roughly the same age as the princess and becomes her companion.

Princess Victoria lives in Kensington Palace, with her mother, a widow, and her governess and teacher, Baroness Lehzen. Sir John Conroy is comptroller of this household and, with the Duchess of Kent, they had devised something called the “Kensington System”. This ensured that the young princess was kept isolated and obedient, under the strict control of the adults around her.

Miss V. is brought into the household at the age of 10 to be a companion for the princess, but her reception is not particularly enthusiastic. Princess Victoria is very unhappy with her restricted life and is highly distrustful of her young companion.

Lucy Worsley has used real historical characters and settings in this novel, but she has used her imagination to develop the relationships between them. I loved the “what if” plot development, which took me by surprise.

This was a very enjoyable read for me. The settings were described in a way which made them visible in my mind and the characters were well developed and interesting. I am a fan of Lucy Worsley’s history programmes and I have to say, I’m a fan of her novel, “My Name is Victoria”!

I would like to thank NetGalley for enabling me to read this novel, in return for my honest review.

 

More Than This by Patrick Ness

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This is a review that I wrote in July,2015, after my first Patrick Ness experience!

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Seth is drowning. He struggles to survive, but the ocean is too powerful for him and he is dashed against the rocks. He dies.
When Seth regains consciousness, lying half naked on a concrete pathway, he is utterly confused. In a weakened state, he manages to rise and look around him. There is something vaguely familiar about the derelict street in which he finds himself. But what is it? Where is it? How can this be?
Layer upon layer of this fantastical story is laid back to reveal what has really happened to Seth…..or does it?

“More Than This”is an amazing Young Adult story by Patrick Ness. I had not read anything by this author, so had no idea what to expect. What I found was imaginative, wonderful writing, a real page-turner. The story raised many questions for the reader, not only about what exactly was happening in Seth’s life, but also about life itself. Even at my age – a grandmother and in my mid sixties – I found myself thinking deeply about some of the points raised by the author.

This is a novel which looks at the meaning of our lives; friendship; love; guilt; betrayal; the need to know ourselves. These themes were faced by the characters in the book and also presented to us, the readers to think about and to look at their impact on our own lives.

Although I realise that this genre is not for everyone, I think “More Than This” is well worth reading. I shall certainly be looking for more of Patrick Ness’s work in which to lose myself

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness is an amazing book.

Conor O’Malley is facing the unthinkable: the possible death of his mother from cancer. At the age of thirteen, it is so hard to imagine the world without your mum and Conor’s life is a nightmare. He’s having problems at school; he’s having to put up with his grandma; he’s having to realise that his father’s new family in America takes precedence. To top it all, his life is overshadowed by a hideous nightmare that awakens him, screaming, most nights. Then, one night, a Monster appears at Conor’s bedroom window, claiming to have been called by him……

This is a heart wrenching book; beautifully written, with such depth of feeling. Having lost my father to cancer, there was much that I could identify with in this story.

“A Monster Calls” confirms my belief that Patrick Ness is a tremendous writer, not only for Young Adults, but for all those who enjoy excellent story telling.

About Patrick Ness:
370361
Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.

He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London.

The Bone Cradle by C.E.Trueman.

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“I use Grammarly’s free online plagiarism checker because plagiarism is cheating and cheats do not prosper!”

It is no exaggeration to say that “The Bone Cradle”  is a book that you cannot put down. It is a beautifully written story about a ten year old boy named Matt and his encounters with a mysterious and unusual person, by the name of Tobias.

Matt is just an ordinary boy, dealing with his father’s death and a new step father as best he can; then he meets Tobias and we realise that here is a boy who, in many ways, is mature beyond his years.

What I loved about this book is the portrayal of Matt and the way he thinks; he came alive for me in the very first chapter – a real boy. I was struck by the quality of the writing which didn’t disappoint throughout the story.

This book is aimed at older children; with its intriguing themes, well depicted characters and short chapters, I can see it appealing to many who have found reading a chore. Saying that, I think discerning readers of any age will enjoy “The Bone Cradle”.

About the Author: C.E.Trueman
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I have been writing creatively since the age of seven, particularly poetry, some of which has been successful in competitions and appeared in various anthologies.

The first poems I had published were in the National Poetry Foundation’s publication Pause – Churchyard Children in 1993 and She Shore in 1994.

I have since gone on to publish others and won or been commended in various competitions, including first prize in the 2005 Winchester Annual Writers’ Conference Poetry competition: Reaching Out sponsored by Penguin Books for Beyond the Sense of Road.

As a child, I invented several children’s storybook characters which I would love to develop as well as compiling my own anthology of poetry.

In January 2007 my first children’s novel The Bone Cradle was published which has been looked at by 20th Century Fox. The sequel Grey Amber has just been published and has been available since January 2010 on both Amazon UK and Amazon US as well as other bookselling websites. The first chapter of this novel won second prize at the 2007 Winchester Writers’ Conference Writing for Children competition. I am planning to write the third and final book in the trilogy shortly.

Magical Realism…..”The Ocean at the End of the Lane” and others!

When I look at the list of books I’ve read over the years, I realise that I am rather fond of fantasy. Not so much the epic tales of knights and dragons, but the sort which has one foot in reality. Goodreads provides a definition of this sort of fantasy:

Magical realism is an aesthetic style or genre of fiction in which magical elements blend to create a realistic atmosphere that accesses a deeper understanding of reality. The story explains these magical elements as normal occurrences, presented in a straightforward manner that places the “real” and the “fantastic” in the same stream of thought.”

Recently, I read the latest by Neil Gaiman, an absolute master of fantasy. “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” delighted me. As soon as the un-named narrator found himself sitting by a pond, near a ramshackle farmhouse, and his memory transported him back to his seven year old self, I was hooked. He recalled his friendship with eleven year old Lettie Hempstock, her mother and grandmother. He remembered that Lettie called the pond an ocean and that there was more to the Hempstocks than met the eye.

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The story of this seven year old unfolds in a magical and often frightening way. The suicide of a lodger from the boy’s home leads to a series of events, unleashing the power of an ancient, evil force.

As the blurb on Goodreads says about “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”:
“It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark”.

To fully enjoy this book, one has to suspend belief to a certain extent. Over the years, I have read a number of books which fall within this genre, most of them having been written for Children and Young Adults. They have all thrilled and delighted me with their imaginative content and their mixture of reality and magic.

Some of my favourites were written by Alan Garner – “The Weirdstone of Brisingamen”, “Elidor” and “The Owl Service” especially. Lucy M. Boston wrote “The Children of Green Knowe” series and I was particularly reminded of “An Enemy at Green Knowe” when I read Neil Gaiman’s book. Another favourite is “The Dark is Rising” by Susan Cooper.

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For more up to date and adult books in this genre, I would thoroughly recommend
the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch. So far, he has written four books about the young Police Officer, Peter Grant, and his adventures working for a department of the Metropolitan Police which deals with magical situations.

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My reading has broadened over the years – my latest delight is in Short Stories – but for pure light relief, a well-written, magically realistic tale fits the bill for me!

Thank you Neil Gaiman, Ben Aaronovitch, Alan Garner, Lucy M. Boston and Susan Cooper to name but a few, for the years of pleasure that your books have brought me.