The Rundown- December ’17/January ’18

Okay, so technically the challenge book I read was in December. However, since it was the first book of a trilogy, I read the other two into January, hence the late post!

 

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (new read)

514NAoyOMFL._SX307_BO1,204,203,200_Where to begin? This is another book and author I’d never heard of before this challenge. However, you may recognize the author from my review of A Monster Calls.  That should get you excited.

This book is part of the “Chaos Walking” trilogy, which is technically science fiction, but it reads like a dystopian novel. A group of settlers have moved to another planet and set up a handful of new communities. In this world, everyone can hear each others’ thoughts, including animals. They call it “noise.” As you can imagine, being completely unfiltered causes lots of problems! Todd is our protagonist and he tells the story in this first volume as he flees from his settlement to escape upcoming turmoil.

Although the first few chapters were a little slow for me, it quickly picked up and I frequently stayed up too late so I could find out what would happen next! Ness is a master at suspense and keeping the reader guessing. He knows when to keep your heart racing, and when to give you a rest.

Besides the uniqueness of the story itself, so many different themes are addressed in this book (and the others) in an organic and intelligent way. There are many opportunities to see characters in one light, and then question what you’re thinking.

I’m not really sure why only the first book was included on the list, as I couldn’t imagine anyone being able to stop after finishing it! Even though this is technically sci-fi, it has such a broad appeal for anyone, in my opinion. I hesitate to say this, but if you’re on the fence, they are making these into movies, so you could get a sneak preview if you wish.

**The other two books are called The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men. I think the quality is just as strong in those as the first. My mind did have to work a little harder as it went on though, as the second book increases to two narrators, and the third to three!

VERDICT: This is a pick that I wholeheartedly agree with. I do wish they had recognized the entire trilogy, but, oh well. If you decide to read them, make sure you have lots of time on your hands: the first book comes in at over 400 pages and by the third one, it’s over 600! Each book also has a short story at the end that you gives you some more insight, which I really enjoyed. Highly recommend!

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The Rundown-January ’17

areyoutheregodAre You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume (reread)

This is what I wrote about the book the first time I read it:

“So I finally read this book for the first time, as a 22 year old. I must say, it didn’t really knock me off of my socks the way I thought it might. I mean, this is probably one of the most talked about and controversial books for pre-teens… and I thought it was just alright. Maybe if I had read it as an adolescent, it would have resonated more with me, but as an adult, it’s just another book. Now, if you wanna read it just to say you have, then go for it. It’s quick and easy, and not a horrible read.”

My most recent take was not super far off from my original thoughts. However, I did have some new insights as someone now more than twice as old as the protagonist. For one thing, it had more of a nostalgic feel. It took me back to my teenage days, when things were much simpler!

I was also able to pay more attention to the religious aspects of the story this time. Margaret has not been raised in any particular religion and is searching for her beliefs. She talks to God frequently and seems lost without having had any guidance in this area. It definitely makes a good conversation starter.

Overall, this book is definitely going to skew towards the female demographic. I doubt there are many adolescent males who want to read about bras and periods. Just saying.

VERDICT: I think this book is going to be another toss up. Based on my previous memory of the book, I would have considered it a definitive “no.” However, upon the rereading, I found more merit and can see more of the appeal.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (new read) 51taoalah7l-_sx334_bo1204203200_

This was another of those books that I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. I was pleasantly surprised!

Gaiman tells the tale of Nobody “Bod” Owens, whose family is murdered when he is an infant. He is raised by several supernatural beings in a graveyard near his house, as the killer continues to search for him. We see glimpses of his life every couple of years, up through his time as a teenager.

There are lots of supernatural elements of this story, which at first was a little bit of a turn off. However, those elements became essential to the understanding of what was happening and, ultimately, the climax. It kept my attention, and the last “short story,” was a real page turner.

VERDICT: It’s hard to argue with most Newbery Medal winners, and this one is no different. It’s a unique and well executed idea, with a broad appeal. Even if supernatural tales aren’t your thing, I think you’ll find enough to keep you entertained.

lotf-front-coverLord of the Flies by William Golding (reread)

I had to read this book in high school and hated it. For some reason, this felt like a good time in the history of the world to read it again. Guess what? I still hate it.

I really did try to go into it with an open mind, but I just can’t get with it. I know there are plenty of people who like this book. I know there are important messages to be gained through this book. But it is sooooo hard for me to read.

I don’t feel like I need to go much into the plot of this book because it is well known. Just as a refresher though, a plane full of schoolboys crashes into an uninhabited island. They battle over who should be in charge and their natural inclinations take over. You can imagine the rest.

On the back of the current edition, the author of The Hunger Games said this is a big influence on her work. That makes sense, but for some reason, THG is much more palatable for me than this. It also happens to be one of my favorites, which is even weirder.

VERDICT: I guess it depends on what the criteria is for whether this is one of the best young adult novels of all time. I did not enjoy reading it at all, but I will give it a place on the list based on the theme and message it is trying to convey. If you do like this book, you should also give Conrad’s Heart of Darkness a try. It deals with the same theme.