Friday, December 13, 2013

More Than This by Patrick Ness

 A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. 
He dies.
Then he wakes, naked, bruised and thirsty, but alive. How can this be? And what is this strange, deserted place?
As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this after life?

Star Rating 

I received this book from Walker Books for an open and honest review.

I had heard a lot of great things about this new novel from Patrick Ness and, being unfamiliar with his previous work, thought I would give a new author a go. In a nut shell... this book was modern, mesmerising and masterfully written!  

Again, as with all my favourite YA novels, this book throws the reader straight into a scene of panic and terror with it's opening chapter:

"Here is the boy, drowning. In these last moments, it's not the water that's finally done for him; it's the cold. Even when he can catch his breath in the few terrified seconds he manages to push his face into the air, he is shaking so badly he can barely get half a lungful before he's under again."

It is not until chapter 5 that we find out the name of this mysterious boy, who thinking he has died, shockingly wakes up in a deserted street. A street in England. A street he recognises from his past but lacking in any human life. Seth finds himself wondering if he has woken up in hell. "Is this what hell is? Trapped forever, alone, in your worst memory?" As Seth tries to come to terms with what has happened he experiences a number of 'flashbacks' to life before he woke up. It is during these flashbacks that the author, Patrick Ness, cleverly draws in the reader as he drip feeds information about Seth and his brother Owen. It is made clear early on that something terrible happened before the accident and it is these subtle hints throughout that had me gripped and desperate to know more. 

"He remembers the shock of what awaited him like a punch to the gut, telling him just exactly what the hell he had woken up to."

As the novel progresses, Seth meets two other children by the names of Regine and Tomasz. It becomes clear that all three children are connected in some way and they quickly begin to realise that all is not as it seems. Why can't they remember their life before now? "There was more to your life and you've forgotten it." The second half of Patrick Ness' book moves towards the Sci-Fi genre and, as a reader, you must have a very open mind and not ask too many questions. The ending is undetermined and sets the novel up perfectly for a sequel. (I for one am hoping there is one!)

In this novel, Patrick Ness made very good use of past and present tense and the reader was often taken back to conversations Seth had in the past before he drowned. As with most YA novels, the chapters are very short and with a cliff hanger at the end of almost all 83 chapters it was near on impossible to put down! I would best describe this book as a tense, Sci-Fi thriller and it is thoroughly captivating throughout. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hide! The tiger's mouth is open wide! by Adam Frost

 A tiger with toothache is terrifying! As Tom and Sophie are about to find out... But when your dad is a zookeeper and your mum's the zoo vet, there's also grrrreat fun to be had. An animal-packed zoo caper with stacks of behind-the scenes peeks at London zoo!
Tom and Sophie Nightingale live on a barge with their zookeeper dad and vet mum, and as many animals as you can get on a small boat. Surely there's no room for any MORE animals in their life?
When a tiger at the zoo has a dental dilemma, Tom and Sophie can't help but get involved. But there is a carnivorous culprit closer to home that they must also diagnose - and quickly! 

Star Rating

I received this book from Bloomsbury for an honest and open review. 

Initially, I was wary about reading this book to my Year 2 class as I thought it would read as an 'educational' book and lack a substantial story plot. However, I was pleasantly surprised and, although it is packed full of animal facts, the children thoroughly enjoyed the story behind them.

In this story Tom is reluctant to go to the dentist for a check-up, a feeling that the children in my class could strongly connect with (although some children did tell me they LOVE going to the dentist as they have the best stickers known to man.) Having a dad who works as a zoo-keeper and a mum who works as the zoo vet, Tom and Sophie are invited along to the local zoo to help care for some animals who are having their own dental dilemmas!

This book was packed full of interesting facts about animals and their teeth. My class particularly liked the more gruesome facts - for example, the rat whose teeth were getting so long that they were starting to curl back into it's mouth. The children learned why herbivores have different teeth to omnivores and which creature has the most teeth. When reading about Harriet the hippo, I showed them an image of the inside of a hippopotamus' mouth and the children were amazed at the sheer size! 

I would highly recommend this book to read alongside a science topic, or just as an enjoyable story for any animal lovers out there!