I started off this series of posts after only reading the first chapter, so it’s probably best to read that post first. My predictions were that the “silence” Todd noticed was either coming from a Spackle or a female. Now that I’m halfway with the book, I’ve found out it’s a young female girl (called it! *fist pump*) and that is obviously the build-up to what I’m assuming will turn into a teenage romance (if this is a romcom, kill the director).
The book is incredibly fast-paced as it’s narrated, so there’s minimal long tedious descriptions of the surrounding locations, which I prefer. The fast-flowing thoughts continuously popping out of Todd’s mind, and the way the book is written to replicate his actual way of thinking, are fantastic. I love it when authors use their poetic licence to utilise incorrect grammar and spelling that would be more in tune with the way the protagonist might communicate than the authors themselves.
My thoughts on Todd at this point are complicated as I’m frustrated that he doesn’t have the maturity and courage that I would hope for from a protagonist on a hero’s journey caught up in his current circumstances. I have to keep reminding myself that Ness is trying to portray a very young child (between 12 to 14 years old – depending on which planet you’re reading this from) and such a young child would obviously not be able to understand complex situations like running away from home in order to save your life, not needing all the answers to questions in a deathly dangerous situation, and being able to swallow their own pride and ADMIT that they can’t read (more because I desperately want to find out what the map and book says).
Then there is the weird moral circumstance that Ness puts the reader in, where you find yourself wanting Todd to be able to kill Aaron and rather upset and annoyed when he isn’t able to kill somebody. What an odd thought; shouldn’t my feelings be the other way around? It’s a tale as old as time of good protagonist versus bad antagonist: but why are such feelings of hate, murder, revenge and anger deemed unacceptable in reality but nobody bats an eye-lid at it in a fictional situation? Shouldn’t we be able to adhere to the same moral compass regardless of the circumstantial reality presented to us? We cheer when the “bad guy” gets slaughtered and celebrate unfortunate circumstances happening to any character who attempts to impede the journey of our favourite character. Yet in this book, I find myself conflicted. In this book, I find myself wondering if egging on a young child to commit murder (in self-defense or not), and my feelings of frustration when he can’t seem to, are not in some way rather selfishly based and inherently not the correct moral response to such a state of affairs. This is the exact opposite of what I would hope for in normal circumstances, so why is it acceptable in fictional circumstances? The emotional and psychological damage of such an act would have far more devastating than beneficial consequences on the characters that we love, and would probably not be something that we’d wish so strongly on our family and friends.
The first half of the book has been intriguing and thought-provoking (as seen above), and I’m riddled with questions as to where Ness plans to take the story line. Do Todd, Viola and Manchee make it to Haven? Will anybody rise up and help them? There are so many askings that need answerings! The chaotic journey continues in the next post – coming soon to a ButFirstFiction website near you.