And The Ocean Was Our Sky

One of my favorite things about picking up a Patrick Ness book is that I have no idea what I’m going to get. It might be a sweet, sad story like A Monster Calls, a dystopian trilogy like Chaos Walking, a realistic coming-of-age story like Release, a semi-realistic story with a dash of supernatural like The Rest of Us Just Live Here, a crazy mystery like More Than This review, or a flip on a classic tale like And The Ocean Was Our Sky.

Anytime Goodreads tells me Ness has a new book coming out, I hop over to my library and place a request. They are great about buying his books, and I’m usually the only one to request it. When I picked this one up, I saw a boat and a whale on the cover and noticed it was illustrated. Huh. That’s not what I was expecting, but really, I just never know what he’s going to come up with, so anything goes. And, because I didn’t read the book jacket, I had no idea what this book was about, so it took me a few pages to understand what was going. The story is told from the perspective of a whale named Bathsheba (First line of the book: Call me Bathsheba….. do you see where this is headed??) who is an apprentice in a pod of whales searching for a man named, wait for it….. wait for it……. wait   for    it……… Toby. Wick.  COME. ON!!! I WAS SOLD. Immediately. Part of me realized that this could be the dumbest book written, but it’s not. Truly. It’s brilliant and creative and is an amazing way to introduce the Moby Dick story to younger kids.

The plot really is pretty basic. Bathsheba’s pod attacks a ship of men, captures one of the sailors, and keeps him for information about Toby Wick. You quickly realize the whales are vastly smarter than men, and the rationale behind the hunt is explained. There are some really beautiful illustrations to accompany this creative story. You really can’t go wrong with reading a book by Patrick Ness. He’s just supremely talented and his stories are varied. There’s something for everyone!

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here

I’m working my way through Patrick Ness’s books. So far, I’ve read Chaos Walking, Release, More Than This review, and A Monster Calls (why I didn’t review this, I have no idea… it was AMAZING). I only have two books of his left. And Ness is easily one of my favorite authors. His works are so varied, which I really appreciate. The Chaos Walking trilogy is inventive and dystopian. Release is realistic. A Monster Calls is more of a fairy tale, but hauntingly gorgeous. More Than This is, hmmmm, not at all what I saw coming, not sure how to put that into words, but it kept me guessing. And finally, we have The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which is a cross between realistic and fantasy.

Mike and his circle of friends are about to graduate high school. He and his sister, Mel, have some emotional stuff going on, on top of the prospect of graduation and moving away to college. Mike is in love with his friend, Henna, is dealing with absent parents, has a little sister who adores him and he wants to protect, and is balancing his emotional stuff. He handles a lot of this poorly. One of the best things I love about Ness’s writing is how accurate he gets teenagers. He is clearly not a teenager (judging by his twitter photo), but he hasn’t forgotten what teenage life is like. It is hard and stressful and damn near impossible at times, and Ness captures that perfectly.

The fantasy aspect of the story is in the beginnings of the chapters. There’s a strange story within a story about “indie kids” trying to keep the town from burning down. There are blue lights, zombie animals, and a character who can heal others. So, set inside this very real high school setting is a fantasy world living parallel.

Like all his others, I loved this book. He has yet to write something that I didn’t enjoy. And don’t ask me which one is his best. I can’t tell you that because my favorite might not speak to someone else like it did to me. However, each one has something to offer, so I beg you to read everything of his. He’s just amazing.

Chaos Walking

I love this series. Let me just say this from the get go. This was my second time to read it all the way through without reading other books in between, and it is just as great as the last time I read it. Of all the YA dystopian series I have read this is one of the top few I’ve read. For the record, The Hunger Games, Legend series, and Red Rising are the others.

This story is one of the most creative I’ve come across. Instead of humans being the victims of a society disaster, they are the perpetrators. Convoys of ships landed decades ago on an uninhabited planet. They settlers were supposed to start building cities, farming, making life sustainable for other settlers. Much to their surprise, the planet did have life in the form of Spackle. Think people, but bigger and more reptilian like. The war against the native creatures began and the Spackle were destroyed. Another big surprise was that all the mens’ thoughts were heard by everyone else. So whatever thought a man had, every other man and woman in his proximity could hear it. The “Noise” was unexpected and very difficult to deal with.

Our main character, Todd, lives in Prentisstown with his adopted fathers Ben and Cillian. Todd’s mother died after he was born, committing suicide like all the other women in the town. The 100+ men left in the town are the only remaining settlers on the planet. With no way to reproduce, they are facing imminent demise. Then, Todd finds a crashed ship and a girl and quickly learns that all he has been told might not be exactly true. This is simply the first few chapters of the first book. The entire trilogy continues much more into Todd’s revelations, the girl, and the truth about the settlers and Spackle.

I really can’t recommend this series enough. There is a movie coming out in 2019 (I think) with Tom Holland (Spiderman) and Daisy Ridley (Rey) as Todd and the girl. I CANNOT wait to see how they film the Noise and how far into the series this movie goes. There’s plenty of time to read the series before the movie comes out.

Release

If you haven’t read a book by Patrick Ness, you are really missing out. He is one of my favorite authors, and everything I’ve read from him has been a hit, including Release. I’ve previously reviewed one of his books More Than This review  but I cannot recommend his Chaos Walking trilogy enough. Published the same years as The Hunger Games, it was a pioneer in the modern young adult dystopia genre and is FINALLY getting a film adaptation. I plan to reread the series next year. He also wrote A Monster Calls, which is one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a long time. You might have also seen the very well done movie. So, anytime a Ness book comes out, I clamber to get my copy.

I had no idea what Release was about, and honestly, I didn’t care. That’s how convinced I am to read his books. The story is simply one day in the life of a teenager named Adam. Adam is like most teenagers, struggling with his family, his love life, facing a senior year he isn’t prepared for. But one added element to his story is that he’s gay, in a relationship with another boy, and has seriously Christian parents who condemn gays. He has been hiding his relationship to his parents, but his best friend Angela and her family are there for him in ways no one else is. There are several uncomfortable scenes in the book that deal with adults, namely his boss and his parents, forcing their ideas onto Adam, And Adam doesn’t handle these ideas well, as you would expect, but he never betrays himself or agrees to change who he is.

This book should be required for any parent with a gay child as what NOT to do. I have two kids, both still very young and exploring who they are. They love Transformers and My Little Pony equally. I bought my oldest a Love is Love pride shirt yesterday. Because no matter who they end up loving, they will still be mine. Nothing could ever change that. I am so thankful for authors like Ness who give teenagers a character that is so familiar to them. There are thousands of kids like Adam out there, struggling with being gay, with parents who refuse to accept this, who deem their children broken, who turn their backs, but maybe slowly, through books like this, voices like Adam’s, and people with open minds, we can change how LGBTQ people are viewed and treated in this country. Happy Coming Out Day.

More Than This review

After reading this book, I am adding Patrick Ness to the list of authors who I will read everything they write. This is a small list. Just a handful of authors have proven to be tried and true. But this is his 5th book I’ve read, and I have yet to be let down. I liked some better than others, but the worlds he creates are unique and ones I want to revisit.

The protagonist of this book dies at the beginning, so you know something odd is happening. He “wakes up” and has no idea where he is or what is happening. This isn’t your normal afterlife book, though. I had no idea where this book was headed and never saw the ending coming. The revelation wasn’t earth shattering, but I was surprised and pleased by it nonetheless.

Ness wrote the magnificent Chaos Walking trilogy that I cannot recommend highly enough. I’ve also read A Monster Calls, which I cannot even begin to describe. A very odd, lovely, heartbreaking book.

If you haven’t heard of Ness, please, I beg you, find something of his. This one was a great solitary book, but the Chaos Walking trilogy might be his masterpiece.