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."

"Shut up, Manchee."

"Poo. Poo, Todd."

"I said shut it."

We're walking across the wild fields south-east of town, those ones that slope down to the river and head on towards the swamp. Ben's sent me to pick him some swamp apples and he's made me take Manchee with me, even tho we all know Cillian only bought him to stay on Mayor Prentiss's good side and so suddenly here's this brand new dog as a present for my birthday last year when I never said I wanted any dog, that what I said I wanted was for Cillian to finally fix the fissionbike so I wouldn't have to walk every forsaken place in this stupid town, but oh, no, happy birthday, Todd, here's a brand new puppy, Todd, and even tho you don't want him, even tho you never asked for him, guess who has to feed him and train him and wash him and take him for walks and listen to him jabber now he's got old enough for the talking germ to set his mouth moving? Guess who?

"Poo," Manchee barks quietly to himself. "Poo, poo, poo."


If that doesn't make you want to read the book, I feel for you as I do for the sad people who do not like molten chocolate cake.

This is a novel best read knowing nothing about it beyond what is revealed in the first chapter: on a planet where germ warfare with the now-extinct indigenous species wiped out the female human settlers, and made the men and animals involuntary projecting telepaths, the last boy in the last settlement, 13-year-old Todd Hewitt, is about to legally become a man. In a maelstrom of telepathic Noise, Todd is about to discover something amazing: silence.

The Knife of Never Letting Go, in addition to its distinctive but easily read voice and clever take on telepathy, is most notable for incredible narrative drive. It is genuinely difficult to put down, once picked up. I suggest that you don't start reading it late at night.

Though my overall impression was genius! oh hell it's a series! dammit, I have to wait a year for the next one! I do have some caveats.

1. It ends on a truly impressive cliffhanger.

2. While major themes of the book are the difficulty of knowing the truth even in a world of telepaths, the secrets adults keep from children, and the painful courage it takes to break through denial and lies that are more comforting than the truth... Ness still overuses the device of having characters know information they don't tell the other characters, the narrator knowing things he doesn't tell the reader, and important information that doesn't get revealed because someone suddenly attacks at the crucial moment.

3. The shocking reveals would have actually been more shocking if they'd been put earlier. They were put off so long and so artificially that I accurately figured out all of them, and even the details of all but one, by the time they were revealed. (I guessed the general outline of how boys become men in Prentisstown, but not the specifics.)

4. Aaron seemed to have wandered in from Friday the Thirteenth.

That being said, this was one of the best and probably the most gripping book I've read all year. It's funny, it's dark, it's a lesson in suspense. I came to love all the main characters, even Manchee the poo-obsessed dog. Maybe especially Manchee.

Feel free to put spoilers in comments.

There's a longer extract from the first chapter here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/sep/06/childrensprize.patrickness
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."

"Shut up, Manchee."

"Poo. Poo, Todd."

"I said shut it."

We're walking across the wild fields south-east of town, those ones that slope down to the river and head on towards the swamp. Ben's sent me to pick him some swamp apples and he's made me take Manchee with me, even tho we all know Cillian only bought him to stay on Mayor Prentiss's good side and so suddenly here's this brand new dog as a present for my birthday last year when I never said I wanted any dog, that what I said I wanted was for Cillian to finally fix the fissionbike so I wouldn't have to walk every forsaken place in this stupid town, but oh, no, happy birthday, Todd, here's a brand new puppy, Todd, and even tho you don't want him, even tho you never asked for him, guess who has to feed him and train him and wash him and take him for walks and listen to him jabber now he's got old enough for the talking germ to set his mouth moving? Guess who?

"Poo," Manchee barks quietly to himself. "Poo, poo, poo."


If that doesn't make you want to read the book, I feel for you as I do for the sad people who do not like molten chocolate cake.

This is a novel best read knowing nothing about it beyond what is revealed in the first chapter: on a planet where germ warfare with the now-extinct indigenous species wiped out the female human settlers, and made the men and animals involuntary projecting telepaths, the last boy in the last settlement, 13-year-old Todd Hewitt, is about to legally become a man. In a maelstrom of telepathic Noise, Todd is about to discover something amazing: silence.

The Knife of Never Letting Go, in addition to its distinctive but easily read voice and clever take on telepathy, is most notable for incredible narrative drive. It is genuinely difficult to put down, once picked up. I suggest that you don't start reading it late at night.

Though my overall impression was genius! oh hell it's a series! dammit, I have to wait a year for the next one! I do have some caveats.

1. It ends on a truly impressive cliffhanger.

2. While major themes of the book are the difficulty of knowing the truth even in a world of telepaths, the secrets adults keep from children, and the painful courage it takes to break through denial and lies that are more comforting than the truth... Ness still overuses the device of having characters know information they don't tell the other characters, the narrator knowing things he doesn't tell the reader, and important information that doesn't get revealed because someone suddenly attacks at the crucial moment.

3. The shocking reveals would have actually been more shocking if they'd been put earlier. They were put off so long and so artificially that I accurately figured out all of them, and even the details of all but one, by the time they were revealed. (I guessed the general outline of how boys become men in Prentisstown, but not the specifics.)

4. Aaron seemed to have wandered in from Friday the Thirteenth.

That being said, this was one of the best and probably the most gripping book I've read all year. It's funny, it's dark, it's a lesson in suspense. I came to love all the main characters, even Manchee the poo-obsessed dog. Maybe especially Manchee.

Feel free to put spoilers in comments.

There's a longer extract from the first chapter here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/sep/06/childrensprize.patrickness
I started printing my memoir last night. I continued at 8:00 am today. I'm still printing the thing. With my advance check I will buy a new printer that isn't slow, evil, and insane. You don't want to know.

Since I'm stuck here apparently indefinitely, I will amuse myself by reprinting my thoughts on this o/v/e/r/r/a/t/e/d controversial anime series.

First report, from about half-way through the show:

As most of you probably know already, the Earth is under attack by giant things called angels, which look like robots, but later developments suggest that they're living, presumably bioengineered things. The first two attacks killed half the population; fourteen years later, everyone's hunkered down in fortified cities.

The only defense against the angels is the Evas-- giant robots (three so far) which can only be piloted by certain kids born nine months after the first attack. The kids are Shinji, a passive boy who's understandably depressed because his asshole father, who runs the program, doesn't love him; Rei, a girl who I suspect is either a clone or an android, because she has no past, no emotions, and no personality; and Asuka, another girl who's an annoying brat.

Despite the almost complete lack of likable characters, the story is gripping enough to keep me watching. Actually, the story per se is only so-so, but the hints of a larger plot occurring out of sight are quite intriguing: What are the angels and what do they want? Is someone sending them? Are the Evas based on angel technology? Are the Evas alive? What's so special about the kid pilots? Who or what is Rei? Is Shinji's horrible father plotting the end of the world, and why? Etc.

It's not uncommon in sf for the background to be more interesting than the foreground, but this show is a particularly notable case.

That being said, and admitting that I'll watch to the end to see how it comes out, I have to ask: what is it that's so special about this show, again?

It's supposed to be a dark, intense classic, but so far it hasn't been all that dark and intense-- angsty, yes, but not as much as a bunch of the other shows I've checked out-- and nowhere near as intense as its obvious comparison, that other story of kids fighting a war against aliens because their abusive-parents-by-proxy don't want to get their hands dirty, Ender's Game.

The animation is OK, nothing more, though some of the character, angel, and Eva designs are pretty good.

The weirdness quotient, so far, is pretty low. Actually, it's nil except for the strange use of Christian imagery and the presence of a penguin (the obligatory cute animal, here totally out of place).

Second report, of the complete show:

At about the halfway mark, the series switched from a somewhat generic sf show about angsty kids piloting giant robots called evangelions for an organization called NERV to save their post-apocalyptic world from invaders to a really interesting and weird sf show in which all the elements noted above are called into doubt, and Christian imagery begins to run amok.

Huge spoilers, including details of the worst ending of anything ever.

Read more... )
I started printing my memoir last night. I continued at 8:00 am today. I'm still printing the thing. With my advance check I will buy a new printer that isn't slow, evil, and insane. You don't want to know.

Since I'm stuck here apparently indefinitely, I will amuse myself by reprinting my thoughts on this o/v/e/r/r/a/t/e/d controversial anime series.

First report, from about half-way through the show:

As most of you probably know already, the Earth is under attack by giant things called angels, which look like robots, but later developments suggest that they're living, presumably bioengineered things. The first two attacks killed half the population; fourteen years later, everyone's hunkered down in fortified cities.

The only defense against the angels is the Evas-- giant robots (three so far) which can only be piloted by certain kids born nine months after the first attack. The kids are Shinji, a passive boy who's understandably depressed because his asshole father, who runs the program, doesn't love him; Rei, a girl who I suspect is either a clone or an android, because she has no past, no emotions, and no personality; and Asuka, another girl who's an annoying brat.

Despite the almost complete lack of likable characters, the story is gripping enough to keep me watching. Actually, the story per se is only so-so, but the hints of a larger plot occurring out of sight are quite intriguing: What are the angels and what do they want? Is someone sending them? Are the Evas based on angel technology? Are the Evas alive? What's so special about the kid pilots? Who or what is Rei? Is Shinji's horrible father plotting the end of the world, and why? Etc.

It's not uncommon in sf for the background to be more interesting than the foreground, but this show is a particularly notable case.

That being said, and admitting that I'll watch to the end to see how it comes out, I have to ask: what is it that's so special about this show, again?

It's supposed to be a dark, intense classic, but so far it hasn't been all that dark and intense-- angsty, yes, but not as much as a bunch of the other shows I've checked out-- and nowhere near as intense as its obvious comparison, that other story of kids fighting a war against aliens because their abusive-parents-by-proxy don't want to get their hands dirty, Ender's Game.

The animation is OK, nothing more, though some of the character, angel, and Eva designs are pretty good.

The weirdness quotient, so far, is pretty low. Actually, it's nil except for the strange use of Christian imagery and the presence of a penguin (the obligatory cute animal, here totally out of place).

Second report, of the complete show:

At about the halfway mark, the series switched from a somewhat generic sf show about angsty kids piloting giant robots called evangelions for an organization called NERV to save their post-apocalyptic world from invaders to a really interesting and weird sf show in which all the elements noted above are called into doubt, and Christian imagery begins to run amok.

Huge spoilers, including details of the worst ending of anything ever.

Read more... )
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