Sunday, December 29, 2013

ARC Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: January 2, 2014
Source: Text Publishing. Thank you!

Goodreads rating: 4.26 out of 5.00 (140+ ratings)
Goodreads | The Reading Room

For the past five years Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq.

Now they are back in town where he grew up so Hayley can go to a proper school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy's PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?

Review by Nara

A quick lesson.There are two kinds of people in this world:
1. zombies
2. freaks.
Only two. Anyone who tells you different is lying. That person is a lying zombie. Do not listen to zombies. Run for your freaking life.
Despite hearing the entire blogosphere sing praises of Laurie Halse Anderson countless times, The Impossible Knife of Memory is the first Halse Anderson book I've read. I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book, but what I got was pure awesomeness. Powerful writing, memorable characters and a sweet romance- this book has ensured that I'll certainly be looking out for more titles by this author.

I don't think I've ever read any books dealing with PTSD before, and I have to say, while I know the theory of what PTSD is, I don't really know what it really is like, so I can't really comment about how accurately it was portrayed in the book. But I do think that Halse Anderson handled the issue very well. Throughout, there are italicised chapters which I assume are flashbacks that Andy is experiencing. While I have to admit that at times these excerpts were a bit out of place, I almost feel like that's what the author intended. It was rather jarring to be reading from Hayley's point of view, only to be jerked into the brutality of the flashbacks.
Sand fills my mouth, stuffs my head with the stench of the lion. Pours into my ears the screams of every corpse. The winds of the desert have names. They feed on the bodies of broken children and rip out the beating hearts of men.
In terms of the romance, the thing I like most about Finn is that he's clearly not perfect. Don't get me wrong, he's definitely swoony. For example, he plans one of the cutest first dates I have ever read about (cute, but totally dorky. And slightly stalkerish now that I think about it. Don't even care lol). And one of the most interesting things about Finn? He uses ridiculously nerdy math pick up lines. Oh man, that whole scene he was maths punning, I was sitting there going THIS IS THE BEST. Seriously, that one fact should be enough to hook you.
"I think we should take each other to the limit to see if we converge," Finn said.
Anyway, back to the original point- despite being a YA love interest, Finn is most definitely not the confident, perfect love interest found in a lot of YA novels. Well, actually I suppose that's wrong. He is confident, but it's in a dorky way. (I can't even explain it properly- just read the book haha.) The romance is awkward and dotted with arguments and misunderstandings and hardship, but it's also new and heartbreaking and beautiful.
"I don't hate you," I said. "Do you hate me?"
He sighed and smiled. "I could never hate you, even if I wanted to."
I guess this is a pretty minor thing if you look at the overall picture, but the ending line. I didn't like it. Has anyone read the book? Because I just found it really awkward and disjointed and...I don't know. It just wasn't good.

As I said, though, overall this book is one incredible tale of a girl's struggle with her war veteran father and her discovery of love.

Overall: 9/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Cover: 4/5


  1. Ahhhh, I cannot wait for The Impossible Knife of Memory! It is one of the books that I most look forward to in 2014. I read a quick sample of it that included the cute first date with Finn (which is slightly stalkerish), so I am really glad to hear that the romance is cute throughout the whole book. That math pick up line is perfect. I am so glad it comes out soon!

    1. haha it is slightly stalkerish isn't it! But definitely cute. Finn is so awesome :D

  2. I loved Speak, but I've never read anything else by Laurie Halse Anderson, but I want to read this book so badly!! Finn and Hayley's (this is the mc's name, right? A little fuzzy with this detail at the moment) romance sounds SO ADORABLE. Dorky YA love interests are the best, in my opinion. So excited about this book! Unfortunately, my winter break ends the same day it's published, but I could care less. Thanks for sharing your review! This book is definitely going on my TBR!

    1. I need to read all her other books...especially if they're as good as this one!
      (yep Hayley is the MC's name)

      I know! I love dorky love interests. Like Sam from Speechless :3

    2. I've been meaning to read more of her books for the longest time! We were supposed to read Speak in my English class in high school, but instead just watched the movie, so I read it on my own and it's been years since. I think I borrowed her book Twisted (?) from the library but ended up not reading it. I'm definitely buying the Impossible Knife of Memory, though!

    3. There's a movie?! Man, now I really want to read this book.
      oo Twisted sounds interesting. Actually a lot of her books have really interesting blurbs...

  3. Oh gosh, I've been left behind. I still haven't read any of Laurie's books, despite having heard of their greatness countless times. I'm really intrigued by this one though. I have read a few books about PTSD and enjoyed them. Also, Finn sounds like a sweetheart. Great review!


    1. Yeah, I'd heard so much about Laurie's books too and had never read one until this one. I'm definitely going to go read her others though :D
      Finn is definitely really cute :)

  4. All I got out of this was MATH PUNS. And that it was very good. That's all I remember of this review :P And it's all I need to know to be honest. I preordered this so I could participate in Reblog Book Club and you've made me excited to read it :D

    I shall have to get to you on this last line thing because I haven't read it yet, but in my experience stand alone contemporaries really do like to end in strange places (instead of where I want them to, which is when the characters are grown up and married with billions of children and happy with life)


      I think the ending was actually a good one. I just really didn't like the last line. It felt awkward, somehow.

  5. I've read other book's by this author, so I know how harrowing and memorable her writing is, and I'm glad to hear you lobed this book so much. I'm excited to see how the author deals with the PTSD storyline as well as the romantic one (your mentioning the love interest's math puns has made me adore him already.) Last lines are pretty important to me too, so it's too bad that the one in this book isn't very good, but I'm glad you deem the book "incredible" anyway. Hopefully I will do the same. :)

    1. Oh, and ignore the typos in the first sentence of this comment. I should probably stop commenting on my iPod, where autocorrect always sabotages me, and the small screen makes proofreading nearly impossible.

    2. MATH PUNS <3
      That was a hilarious scene :P

      I hope you enjoy the book when you read it too! Hopefully your expectations aren't too high lol. So much hype around this book!

  6. I haven't read this book, but I have worked with people with PTSD. People can be drawn suddenly into a flashback, if something triggers them.

    1. Yeah, that's what the excerpts kind of felt like. I mean, there wasn't really a trigger, but you'd be reading from Hayley's POV and then suddenly you're in Iraq (that sort of thing)

  7. Hmm. I don't think I've heard anything about this author before and it's definitely the first time I hear about this book but wow, I'll have to check it out! I love when I find a new (new-to-me) author who sounds AMAZING :)

    1. Woah seriously? But her name comes up so often in the blogosphere! Have you heard of Speak? There was all this controversy about it being banned and stuff.
      But yeah, she's a pretty compelling author! Definitely worth giving a read :)

  8. The characters sound interesting