When one falls, everybody falls

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Chaos Walking # 1
Publisher: Walker Books
Number of pages: 479
My copy: US paperback, bought from Fully Booked

Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown.

But Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in a constant, overwhelming, never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets.

Or are there?

Just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd unexpectedly stumbles upon a spot of complete silence.

Which is impossible.

Prentisstown has been lying to him.

And now he’s going to have to run…

* * *

I’ve heard a lot of good reviews for this book from various book blogs and book friends, but I never picked it up because I wasn’t into dystopia back then. In fact, I saw a copy of this book a couple of times in Fully Booked but I always ignored it. No time to read it, I always think.

After some really strong recommendations, I finally got a sample from Amazon and read the first few pages, thinking that if I really want it, I can always get the Kindle edition. But as I read on, I knew only one thing: I MUST HAVE THIS BOOK. Not the ebook, but the actual print book, because there are parts of the book that just looks better in print. Unfortunately, on the day I decided I wanted the book, the only copy in the Fully Booked branch nearest my office was gone. :( My friend Jana, who also wanted the book, got to the last copy first, so I would have to wait. *grumble* Thanks to the wonderful people of Fully Booked, though, for transferring a copy to Eastwood a week after I inquired to them about it. Of course, I wasn’t able to read this immediately, and it wasn’t until about a month from when I got this that I got to read it.

You can never go wrong with a book that starts with a talking dog, especially one that says, “Poo, poo.” The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness starts this way:

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

“Need a poo, Todd.”

I must do a Russell from Up impression here: “BUT IT’S A TALKING DOG!” :) From that moment on, I knew that even if I didn’t like the book in the end, I’d still be fond of the talking dog.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect as I read this book because I stayed away from as many spoilers as possible, so I plunged into the book knowing only the basic stuff: Todd is the last boy in Prentisstown, where only men live and everyone can hear the other person’s thoughts. Then he discovers a “hole” in the noise, complete silence that is impossible in the world he grew up in. Todd is then made to run far, far away from Prentisstown for reasons he couldn’t understand, which leads to a chase to a world outside he thought never existed.

It took me a while to really get into the book, despite the talking dog, because of the way Todd talks. The Knife of Never Letting Go is written in Todd’s point of view, and growing up in the New World has given Todd a different way of talking, which may be because of the deterioration of education in Prentisstown since the boys don’t go to school nor read. Most of narration becomes Todd’s actual thoughts, most of which spill over each other and sometimes goes on and on without periods that I ran out of breath while reading it even if I was doing so silently. The language is reminiscent of The Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski, but more rough and raw as I wasn’t just seeing things happen, but feeling them since I had access to Todd’s thoughts (and whoever’s Noise he can hear).  It took me a while to get the hang of it, but when I did, the book gripped me and refused to let go.

Patrick Ness is one heck of a writer, and I admire him for never being afraid of hurting his characters. As a (wannabe) novelist, I always have problems with hurting my characters because they’ve grown close to my heart as I write them, and hurting them feels like I’m hurting myself. If you’re that type of reader who grows attached to characters they read and hate it when they get hurt…well, be prepared because Ness can be pretty ruthless. I always get a sense of dread whenever Todd would end up content and somewhat happy in one place because I know the author is just preparing to bring out another big gun that would send Todd and his companions running. It’s not bad, of course, but rather very effective because it kept me reading, rooting for Todd and wanting him to win it in the very end. The action scenes were satisfying, the running and the panic felt very real, and Ness kept the mystery of Todd’s history kept very well up until the revelation point, and he didn’t reveal everything so much that all questions were answered.

It’s not just senseless action or violence, either. Every action and everything that Todd does has a bearing in the end, one that helped him grow as needed at the climax of the novel. Todd’s realizations is not only applicable in his world, but also in our world and in how we strive to get something we want or to be someone we want to be. I find this quote from the book very true (emphasis mine, and don’t worry, no spoilers):

“Here’s what I think,” I say and my voice is stronger and thoughts are coming, thoughts that trickle into my noise like whispers of truth.

I think maybe everybody falls,” I say. “I think maybe we all do. And I don’t think that’s the asking…I think the asking is whether we get back up again.

The Knife of Never Letting Go truly lives up to its hype. I’m lucky that I read this now because I don’t think I could have waited so long to read the next book because the ending is just…well, I’d leave it to you to find out. And I must warn you as well: there may be a part when you’d want to stop reading the book and mull over what happened a bit, and maybe even shed a few tears. I did that. :P

I can’t wait to start reading the next book, The Ask and the Answer, which I am reserving for the YA-D2 reading challenge. The Knife of Never Letting Go is a dark, fast-paced and action-packed dystopian novel that will surely have you at the edge of your seat. If you see this in the bookstore, don’t think twice: just get it and read. I promise you won’t regret it.


Blogging and Books

I am starting to love all these bookish weekends. It’s probably because I’ve never really had them before. Sure, NaNoWriMo weekends are also times where we discuss books, but we discuss writing and our plots more than we discuss our books, plus my Wrimos and I only see each other a lot during November, so for the rest of the year, I’m pretty much dry with book talk. Thank goodness for making bookish friends. :)

Last Saturday was the first Filipino Book Bloggers meet-up, organized by Chachic who is also the admin of the site. I’m not one to pass up an event like this, and I even dragged some of my friends over to join us (who weren’t really as big of a reader as I am and they don’t keep a book blog…so they were really just there so they could meet and accompany me — my friends are sweet haha). When I got to Starbucks at Shang, I was already a bit late, so there were already three tables of people talking. Pretty soon, more people came, including some of the new bloggers from our Goodreads group. I guess existing bloggers in the group can be pretty influential. ;)

There were lots of discussions everywhere, and as expected, people broke into little groups based on who sat with who. I mostly talked with the people around my side: Aaron, Ace, Jason (nice to finally meet you!), Rezel, Aldrin and Celina. Like what everyone else who’s blogged about the event, there was a major concern/brainstorming done at the other side of the table about publishers and local books and how bloggers can be involved. I didn’t get to hear all of them, but from what I gathered, it was pretty interesting.

I’m no expert with how the local publishing business works or how they market their books, I do have the same woes about not having enough local stuff that I’d want to read. It’s the same woes we have in NaNoWriMo — there just doesn’t seem to be enough local works to read for us to write about local stuff. If there were, then I’d probably have more than 10 in my Project 20:10 list. I hardly read anything local because I feel like they’re all too serious, or in the case of our chick lit, they’re too thin and not worth the price. Most of the Filipino books I see are about dysfunctional families, revolutions, and some socio-political whatever issue that I could read in the newspaper. Thanks, but no thanks. They’re the kind of stuff I’d read in school because it was required of me, but I’m not in school anymore. :|

Why not submit the stuff that I write, then? Well, I would, if they were finished. ^^; Okay, that’s my fault, then, but I know from some friends who have tried to submit their works here from what I hear, it’s kind of hard. I don’t think there is much room for the stuff that my Wrimos usually write here, at least, not that I know of. So if no one’s accepting (or at least, even looking at) the things Filipinos dare to write, what else would we read, right?

I’m not sure I made sense there, and it may need another post to fully clarify. But the idea goes the same for book bloggers. In the US and UK, book bloggers get their share of advanced copies because of the buzz they create before the book is officially out in the market. Based from experience, I think only Summit Books do the same thing, since their marketing person (sorry, I forgot the exact position!) is a blogger, as well. The proof is in the press release I received for Table for Two. Of course I already read and reviewed the book when I received the package, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Like Michelle, though, I also believe that “good books will promote themselves“. The most recent example I could think of is Mina V. Esguerra‘s My Imaginary Ex. It started with Mina just saying hi to our Filipino Goodreads group, and some reviews of her book and then a lot more people are reading her book from our group. It may not seem big, but it’s a start, right?

Anyway, off with the serious stuff. The other posts I linked below were far more articulate with this issue. It was still a fun afternoon that extended all the way up to night because we had some bookstore hopping to do. This is why I ended up with such a big stash of books yesterday — I was in the presence of very effective book pushers. ;)

Dinner at Sango -- me with the bloggers and my two friends, Toni and Cors


I missed meeting Jasper of Avalon.ph and Carl Javier, author of The Kobayashi Maru of Love, because I was late, but I did win a Php 500 GC from Avalon.ph, which means I can still buy the Carl’s book from them. :)

It was a fun Saturday, and a pretty successful meet up. I think everyone would agree. :)

Related posts:

In My Mailbox (6)

Hi. My wallet is currently mad at me right now. I had to hide it away because it’s about to scream obscenities at me for…well, spending so much. I can feel it grumbling at me at the middle of the week, but as of today, it’s positively seething.

But, but, I have a very good justification why I spent so much this week. One thing is the Cebu vacation…and another…well, are books. :P It didn’t spend as much as if I buy a Branson Missouri vacation, anyway. That is a perfectly justifiable expense even if I know I have about what, 70 books that I have yet to read.

Yeah, yeah, like that means something.

So yeah, I’m doing an In My Mailbox post this week because I find that I have a pretty huge stash of books this week! Well, including Friday last week, since I kind of count that purchase as part of the weekend purchase, and it feels like I just bought it this week. In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store.

And here we go. *throws wallet under the bag and ignores it angry screams*

Continue Reading →

BTT: Current

Booking Through Thursday

I finally caught Booking Through Thursday on time! I have been meaning to do a BTT post for a while but I always forget, and I’ve always been busy just before the week ends. I thought this week’s BTT is simple, but it also helps me to talk about something that the book bloggers have been abuzz with since this weekend. This week’s question is:

What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? Would you recommend it? (And, by all means, discuss everything, if you’re reading more than one thing!)

Speak by Laurie Halse AndersonRight now I am reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I have been planning to get a copy of the book for the longest time but it wasn’t really a priority book for me, you know, the book I absolutely must have and read now. I figure it’s a book that I will eventually get to read, but not anytime soon, you know?

But last weekend kind of bumped this book way way up in my TBR. Long story made short: Wesley Scroggins, associate professor of management at Missouri State University and Christian, wrote a piece about how Speak is a filthy and immoral book, equating it to soft porn for the two rape scenes in the book. He moved to ban Speak and two other books, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut out of the school’s reading list because of that reason, and of course, everyone was outraged. Who wouldn’t be?

Now I haven’t read Slaughterhouse Five, but I’ve read Twenty Boy Summer and while I it wasn’t a favorite book of mine, I didn’t think it was bad enough to be banned. People who know me in person know that I am a Christian and I stand by my beliefs firmly, but I don’t avoid every single book that has sex in it. I may not like it, but it doesn’t mean that no one else should read it because it (and I quote Mr. Scroggins): “…glorifies drunken teen parties, where teen girls lose their clothes in games of strip beer pong. In this book, drunken teens also end up on the beach, where they use their condoms to have sex.

Seriously now.

Anyway, so I’m reading Speak right now, and I’m only about halfway done, and my heart is going out to Melinda. This is a girl who has serious issues of depression and trauma, someone who badly needs help, who needs a friend, who needs someone to listen to. I already know what will happen in the story, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of how Melinda is dealing with her situation.

Melinda’s story is heartbreaking. It’s not easy, and this is just fiction. Melinda isn’t a real person, and my heart is already going out to her. What more for girls who actually had the same experience as Melinda? What more for girls who are ostracized by their friends because they do not know the truth and the girl is too scared to talk about what happened? Because let’s face it: date rape happens. It can happen to anyone. In a perfect world, the victim would have a supportive family, understanding friends and she be able to speak up, move on and be a survivor instead of a victim of that crime. It is possible. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in this broken world, one that is filled with sin and brokenness and not everyone has a good support system to help them get over the trauma.

This is why books like Speak exist. To talk about issues that we are afraid to talk about. To help victims find hope, to give them a friend, albeit fictional. You know what they say about books being friends? Well, Mr. Scroggins, it’s true, and sometimes books can be the only friends that some of the rape victims have.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as banned books in the Philippines, since I’m not familiar with our library systems and all, but I hope it doesn’t reach that point here. While I agree that some books may need to be reviewed and discretion should be advised for some books depending on the reader’s age, book banning is an entirely different story. Most especially if you haven’t even read the book yet. That just reeks of ignorance.

I don’t see anything un-Christian about Speak. And I definitely think that banning this would just do more harm than good. Consider this post my choice to Speak Loudly.

Here’s an update from Laurie Halse Anderson about the situation, as well a compiled list of all articles written about Speak Loudly by the Reclusive Bibliophile.

All Things Dystopian (YA-D2 Challenge)

Lately I realized that I have been avoiding the shelves I frequent in the bookstore when I started reading more. By these shelves, I mean the shelves that contain paranormal romance, and even plain contemporary young adult romance. I don’t really know when or why it started, but I find myself not getting interested in any of the new stuff under those sub-genre. More often than not, I feel relieved when I decide not to pick up the book especially after I find some of the reviewers I follow say that they didn’t like the book or it’s a Twilight derivative. I mean, who wants that, right? (No offense to anyone, of course)

After some time, I realized again that I seemed to have found a new pattern to the books I have been reading lately, and I can only blame some of the guys I got to know recently for this new sub-genre fascination.

Friends, I think I fell in love with dystopia.

Aaron posted about this last week, and he managed to convince me to try out this challenge on top of the other challenges I’m doing. I figure, what the heck, right? It’s not like it’s going to be a hard challenge, anyway, what with all the dystopia books waiting on my TBR shelf.

So, yeah, here’s another one for my challenges for this year. I’m joining Bart’s Bookshelf‘s YA-D2: The YA Dystopian Reading Challenge. You want something crazier? I’m going for the die-hard’s choice:

Welcome to Level 3.

Oooh, how ominous. According to the challenge:

Level 3: Is for the dystopian die-hards! Minimum requirement for this level is five young adult dystopian novels, between the 1st October and 19th December. There is, however no maximum cap, you can keep reading for as many books as you like!

Just five, huh. I could do that. I mean, I set to read 20 fantasy books this year, and I lost count at how many I read this year. So, unless the world ends or the zombie apocalypse comes, I don’t think there would be a reason why I won’t be able to finish this challenge. :)

And now the books I will read for this challenge. Much thanks to Aaron for pointing them out of my shelf. :D

  1. The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
  2. Gone by Michael Grant
  3. Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
  4. The Dead of the Night by John Marsden
  5. Z by Michael Thomas Ford

Wait, just five? I think I still have some I can add to this list! Some reserves/alternates, in case I don’t get to read the others for some reason, or in case I feel like going on and on and on and on until the challenge ends.

And that should be enough. I guess I’ll take today up until the end of September to read the other “normal” books I have before I plunge into all the end-of-the-world/post-apocalyptic dystopia goodness. :)