R.J. Anderson’s Knife tells the story of a headstrong, wily young faerie named Knife and her adventures as she attempts to unravel why her faery people no longer have any magic.
Knife is a very difficult book to review. I liked some things about it and I disliked other things, and it kind of left me feeling ‘meh’. In fact, I borrowed this from the library to listen to the audiobook (and it had a FANTASTIC British narrator, Emma Parish, whom I loved and want to kidnap and force her to read all my books to me), but I had so little interest in completing the story at various points that I had to actually return and borrow it again just to finish it.
That’s not to say that Knife is bad – on the contrary, it’s quite good. It’s beautifully written, and the character of Knife has the most phenomenal character growth from carefree and adventurous young’un to battle-hardened, experience hunter. She’s a truly amazing character and I loved her whole itty bitty faery culture and all the other characters in the great Oak tree they called home as well.
But there were parts of the book where I was just so utterly bored I would actually prefer to stop listening and just sit there listening to nothing at all. I’m quite lucky in that the type of work I do is quite autonomous and gives me the opportunity to listen to audiobooks, and I often had to remind myself, ‘Hey, you’ve got a book on your phone you could be listening to rather than playing your Disney soundtracks for the hundredth time’ (you think I’m kidding? I’m not even).
I think part of the problem was that the blurb wasn’t very specific, so I never had any idea of what I could be anticipating. I had no idea what I was looking forward to and the plot, being unpredictable to a point, varied wildly and often left me floundering and wondering why I should care about the characters and their situations.
And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get into Knife’s ‘love interest’ Paul. I’m all for non-mainstream love interests but actually having them be a love interest would be nice, as opposed to a platonic friend then all of a sudden one clumsy kiss later they’re bonded by magic, and Knife has to choose whether she’ll risk becoming human forever and lose the magic bond because he might not love her after all, and all I was thinking was ‘Fuck me, I wouldn’t risk that.’ Because there was absolutely no building of romantic interest whatsoever from either of the characters. I would have much preferred if they had stayed friend platonically. And I don’t even mean that they had to be lust-driven and all over each other; but just some kind of a hint would have been nice, rather than placing a magic bond over them after a random makeout session. I was unconvinced by the whole thing. Also, Paul was quite an asshole and I don’t like asshole boys.
Anderson’s got some major storytelling skills, and I think it was a big case of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’. I felt that the pacing and the plot could have been worked on because although I did zone out on occasion (hazards of listening while earning a living) I felt that a majority of the plot was filler until it really hit its stride in the third act and everything started coming together.
I own Anderson’s Ultraviolet, which I’m still quite willing to give a go, because I think it was the nature of the story itself that made it difficult for me to finish, not Anderson’s writing.