One of the knockout teenage books from 2008 was Patrick Ness’ Knife of Never Letting Go, the first book in his Chaos Walking trilogy. The writing is brilliant, the book won several awards in the UK, and is the story of 12 year old Todd forced to flee Prentisstown where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts. You can even hear your dog’s thoughts so you are living in a world of constant noise, a world of information overload that you simply cant get away from. The book deals with difficult issues, for instance what it is like to have a knife in your hand. To quote from Ness’: ‘Power has terrifying consequences even if you think it’s ‘just’. Once used it changes you, and in ways you may not want and can’t change back.’ I’m just finishing the third book, Monsters of Men and I’ve actually put down the new James Lee Burke to read it. That says how good it is. Due out May 1, but do start with the first book. As you’ve gathered, it’s not just for teenagers.
This is a book which starts slowly and meanders along maddeningly. Henry is a successful novelist whose new book has been rejected by the publisher who wants the format changed. Henry is furious with this decision and decides to give up writing. He moves with his wife to another city and spends his time answering fan letters. One of his fans sends a portion of a play for Henry to read. Henry decides to meet the mysterious author, an elderly taxidermist, who explains the characters in his play, Beatrice and Virgil, are in fact a donkey and a monkey and their stuffed bodies are here in his shop. As the disturbing taxidermist discloses more of his play, Henry begins to realise this is an allegory about the Holocaust. This is a devastating story and will haunt you for a long time.
I was a bit behind in getting to Linwood’s new book, Never Look Away. Other books intruded over the month and I didn’t pick his new one up until last weekend. I do believe he gets better with each new book. Usually you can work out the plot fairly early on in most thrillers, but this one kept me going for quite a while before I guessed where it was going. David is having problems with his wife. She says she’s depressed, she’s unhappy at work and her moods are not good. So David decides a day at Five Mountains amusement park with their little boy will give everyone a lift. First his little boy is abducted and then his wife disappears and the police say there was no proof she was ever in the park. And this all happens very early on. If you want an easy pageturner, this is it.