The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking: Book 1) by Patrick Ness

Some books were just meant to be audiobooks.  I never actually read physical books of Feed or Thirteen Reasons Why, so I cannot say for sure, but I can’t imagine that reading them would have been anywhere close to the experience I had listening to them.  I don’t think I would have done “the feed” justice on my own, and I firmly believe that listening to Hannah’s tapes along with Clay helped me to experience his emotional reactions much better than reading the text would have.  I decided to listen to this book because my current audiobook was almost over and this one was sitting on the NEW shelf.  I recalled that it got a good review, but I didn’t remember anything about it.  Well . . .  I am really glad I “accidentally” took out the audiobook instead of reading the book because it definitely reminded me a lot of Feed!

Todd Hewitt lives in Prentisstown, a small settlement on New World.  His people came to New World to escape religious persecution, but they found plenty of new problems upon arrival.  The two main problems were the Spackle (lifeforms indigenous to the planet) and a germ that causes “Noise” (the projection of one’s thoughts so that other people can hear and/or see them).  In this first book of the Chaos Walking trilogy, we learn two very important details:  all of the women of Prentisstown are dead, and the boys “become men” at 13.  Todd, the last remaining boy, is feeling anxious and confused about his impending 13th birthday because of all the secrets that are kept from the boys — including details about the actual ritual that will complete his transformation from boy to man.  When, all of the sudden, Prentisstown becomes unsafe for Todd, his adoptive parents (Ben and Cillian — pronounced Killian) send him out into the wilderness with his dog (Manchee), a hunting knife, his mother’s diary, and a map that should lead him to another settlement.

There was a lot to set up in this first book, but it was not overly difficult to follow.  Plus, the action and adventure work well to keep readers hooked while bits and pieces of the history of Prentisstown are revealed.  Definitely a book/audiobook I would recommend to fans of dystopian science fiction.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

The story begins in 1937 in Shanghai, China, where two young adult women who live with their parents make money by modeling for calendars and other products.  Their world comes to a crashing halt when they learn that their father gambled away all the family’s money and assets.  Then the country is invaded by Japan.  May and Pearl travel to the United States to be with husbands selected for them by their father.  The characters are interesting.  History jumps off the page while you are immersed in this tale.