Tag Archives: Patrick Ness

Class (2016 TV Series)

BBC

Spinoff of Doctor Who

Status: Incomplete (1 season/8 episodes)

My rating: 5 of 5

What on this strange Earth does Quill know about children?! She’s a freedom fighter from an alien planet, bound by a nasty little creature in her head to serve and protect the princeling of her sworn enemies. Yet somehow, following the destruction of their planet and both of their peoples, she finds herself on Earth, responsible not just for the prince but trying to manage four other teenagers as well. It might not be so bad if she were just dealing with the series of alien threats that seem drawn to Coal Hill Academy and to these five kids. But throw teenage angst, romance, and moral development into the mix, and Quill is definitely over her head.

Having watched BBC’s Class, I am blown away by the fact that it hasn’t received more love and attention; it’s incredible. It’s written by Patrick Ness for crying out loud! I just don’t understand. I wouldn’t have even heard of it if not for the (welcome) post of a fellow blogger. And can I just say how crushed I am that this story will not be continued beyond the first season?! Especially since it leaves us with a cliffhanger ending of killer proportions?! Still, this show is well worth the watching, despite the inconclusive conclusion. It tends to a more YA audience, with some definitely darker (and gorier) themes and a willingness to face moral ambiguity and tough choices head-on that I found impressive. I love that Ness wrote the whole series rather than handing off episodes to other writers; because of this there’s a consistency in the story and the characters that just shines. The basic premise is that Miss Quill (and alien disguised as a physics teacher), Charlie (an alien prince disguised as a student), and April, Ram, Matteusz, and Tanya (human students) are all at Coal Hill Academy, and due to their exposure to space/time inconsistencies, they are ready targets for anything alien that comes through the cracks in space/time surrounding the school. Basically, you’ve got the Scooby Gang at a school on top of a Hellmouth (sound familiar?), only aliens rather than the supernatural. This definitely makes for some exciting episodes, but that is so not what makes this TV show so incredible. The depth and complexity of the characters’ personalities, the development of them over the course of the show, the way their relationships grow, the fact that there are real friendships developed as well as romances, the tough choices they have to make, and the acting that brings all of that to light–that is what I absolutely loved. And yeah, this show is basically a poster child for the whole diversity thing; you’ve got a gay couple, POC, a Sikh family, etc. But the great thing is that these aspects of the characters are so naturally a part of who they are, as opposed to something that feels forced. And there are tons of other aspects of their characters that are just as much developed and a part of the storyline. Another thing I loved is that the kids actually have families that are involved in their lives and are supportive of them; how cool is that? Also, Quill’s character is angsty and totally badass in an awesome way; I love her and how totally not the nurturing sort of teacher she is . . . yet how she gets totally shoved into the role and works with it. So yeah, Class is an awesome show that I would definitely recommend, especially to those who enjoy Ness’s writing or contemporary YA. And yes, I’m definitely going to be tracking down lots of fanfic to fill the hole left in my heart by this series not being continued.

Created and Written by Patrick Ness/Produced by Patrick Ness, Steven Moffat, & Brian Minchin/Music by Blair Mowat/Starring Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins, Vivian Oparah, Katherine Kelly, & Jordan Renzo

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The London Eye Mystery

the london eye mysteryAuthor: Siobhan Dowd

My rating: 4.5 of 5

When Ted and Kat’s cousin Salim comes to visit them in London before moving to the U.S., they do what any group of kids would do–go ride the London Eye. Only, the lines are hugely long, so when a stranger offers them one free ticket, they agree to skip the ticket line and just let Salim ride by himself while they wait below. Kat and Ted find the impossible happening before their eyes, however, when Salim seems to disappear into thin air while riding the enormous wheel. Family members and police are baffled and frantic, with next to no leads. But Kat’s indomitable persistence and Ted’s uniquely wired brain might just be able to do what the police cannot–figure out what really happened to Salim.

I picked up The London Eye Mystery after seeing Patrick Ness’s reference to Siobhan Dowd’s work in A Monster Calls. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I have to say, I was impressed. The story is told in first-person, past-tense from Ted’s perspective. Which is very interesting, because Ted’s a fantastic character. He’s maybe eleven or twelve (it probably says, but I don’t remember), and he has Asperger’s syndrome. I love though that the book never actually labels him as such–the author does a wonderful job of expressing what it’s like to think that way through day-to-day details in the writing rather than showing it from an outside viewpoint. Honestly, I think Ted’s character is the very best thing about this book, that and his interactions with his sister Kat. But in addition, this story is also just an interesting and mentally intriguing mystery. Although I found it in the YA section, I think I would actually consider it a children’s book–say upper middle-grade, consistent with Ted’s own age. But I think The London Eye Mystery has the potential to be an enjoyable read for older readers as well; I would definitely recommend trying it at least.

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A Monster Calls

Author: Patrick Ness/Original Idea: Siobhan Dowd

Illustrator: Jim Kay

Conor was once again awake in the night when–just after midnight–the monster showed up. He ought to have been terrified of the yew tree in his backyard come walking, but the truth is, he’s seen much worse. His waking days are filled with the realities of his mother’s cancer: the days when she’s so sick and weak she can’t do anything, the way everyone at school–even the teachers–avoids him and treats him like he might be diseased himself. Then at night, there’s the nightmare . . . the one so bad that even a yew monster seems not so scary. After all, it’s just a tree.

A Monster Calls is a story I picked up after hearing several other people give it positive reviews, and I’m glad I did. This is an unexpected story, in many senses of the word. It’s eerie and dark, yet somehow everyday as well. Conor lives in the tragically mundane normal world, trying as desperately as a thirteen-year-old can to help his mom and survive school. Yet he is haunted by this absolutely horrifying nightmare . . . one that is made more frightening to the reader by not being explained until the very end. (The build-up of tension through this is quite effective.) And the yew monster is an unpredictable and spooky touch that makes what would otherwise be a fairly set family/medical drama into something other, deeply psychological and intense. It’s nearly impossible to predict the outcomes–and frankly, if not for the physical evidence the yew leaves, it would seem most likely that Conor is going insane. It’s really hard to tell sometimes. I think Jim Kay’s art is perfect for this story–inky black-and-white watercolor-type pictures with all sorts of eerie shapes and textures that build the atmosphere wonderfully. I would highly recommend A Monster Calls for anyone, say, middle school and up, although the psychological intensity might be better for a slightly older audience–I was definitely sobbing out loud by the end of the book.

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