Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go was far and away my favorite YA novel published in 2008, which is saying something considering the absolute murderer’s row of impressive YA novels unleashed last year. I’ve just finished the second book, The Ask and the Answer, and will have a review for it coming up in the August issue of Booklist (hint: it’s good. supergood.). And while that one won’t be released until September (though already out in the U.K.) you can whet your appetite by trawling over to the Booktrust Writer in Residency page to gobble up a brand new short story (“The New World“) that takes place immediately before Knife.
I’ll admit, thinking about all the myriad online extras of the various media that I ingest makes me a little bit crazy, knowing that I’m missing what I’m sure are all sorts of crucial tidbits just because I wasn’t savvy enough to watch season three of Whatever Hot Show and then rush to the internets to catch up on all the backstories and character vital stat sheets and mini-webisodes. I’ve even seen commercials try to goad me into following them down the virtual wormhole to special director’s cuts and outtakes. Really? Has that worked on anyone?
But, I can get behind this kind of online extra. As the writer in residency, Ness provided a whole set of tips for aspiring writers, and then followed and broke them to come up with this short story. Is it crucial to the understanding of his Chaos Walking universe? Nope. Is he trying to sell me more books by writing it? Not directly. He’s just putting his pen where his advice is, and we get some neato bonus information that answers a couple of the bucketloads of burning questions we have about his universe. It’s more of a gift than a ploy, which is awfully refreshing.