In Review: The Knowing

Threats come from all sides at these young heroes and readers will be eager to see what happens to them.

The Knowing by Sharon Cameron

Published by Scholastic, October 10, 2017. Jacket hardcover of 448 pages at $18.99. Intended for ages 12 and up, grades 7 and up. 

Note: I read an advanced copy so anything may have changed by publication.

The cover: A tree stump is sprouting flowering vines whose petals are being blown about by a calm wind. This title of the novel is set behind the vines on a light blue background, while the stump’s background is a darker blue. Elizabeth Parisi is the artist of this frontpiece and it symbolizes the old giving way to the new, which is one of the many themes of this novel. Overall grade: A

The premise: From the inside jacket flap, “Samara is one of the Knowing, and the Knowing do not forget anything — love, hate, or their first drawn breath. Hidden deep in the comfort and splendor of her underground city, a refuge from the menace of a coming Earth, Samara learns what she should have never known and creates a memory so terrible she knows she cannot live with it. And so she flees to Canaan, the lost city of her ancestors, to be both healed and cured. To Forget. Beckett has flown through the starts to find a dream: the city of Canaan, the most infamous social experiment of Earth’s antiquity, lost to space and the mysteries of time. A history forgotten. Then Beckett finds Samara in the ruins of the lost city and uncovers so much more than he ever bargained for — a challenge to all he’s ever believed in or sworn to. When planets collide and memories clash, can Samara and Beckett save two worlds and remember love in a place that has forgotten it? At once thought provoking and utterly thrilling, this extraordinary companion novel to Sharon Cameron’s #1 New York Times bestselling The Forgotten explores the truth and loss that lie within human memory and the bonds that hold us together.” I enjoy seeing cultures clash in a science fiction setting. I read the first book, so I’m interested what Cameron can do in a sequel. Overall grade: A

The characters: Samara Archiva is one of the book’s two leads. She is one of the Knowing, a group of people who remember everything, but she doesn’t fit in. She has too many questions about their society and after the death of a friend, goes on the run from her society. When she has a memory, which lessens as the story progresses, the story comes to a halt. I found myself more concerned for the present than the past. Samara starts the book as a character on the run, but becomes a much stronger individual, doing what she feels is best for her people. She has a very well written arc. Beckett Rodriguez is  the second protagonist. He’s from Earth and stumbles upon Samara and her civilization. He’s much easier for the reader to latch on to because he’s not given to flashbacks, doesn’t refer to seemingly odd words with capital letters, and is grounded more in what the reader knows of the world. He’s got some flashy tech and a partner, Jillian, but he needs Samara’s help if he’s going to get back to his ship. Jillian is injured early in the book to allow Samara more time with Beckett, but comes back strong by the book’s close. Reddix Physicianson is Samara’s soon-to-be husband and initially appears as the classic emotionless fiancée, though he gets a cool spin and has a very strong scene in the climax. Outside forces provide stress on the pair of heroes. Samara’s foes are named early in the novel, while Beckett’s appear in the last third of the book and their motivations are horrific. Outside of Samara’s early memories, the characters are very enjoyable, having me tear through the pages to see what would next happen to them. Overall grade: A-

The settings: The main settings are very basic, the Underneath and the Outside. The Underneath is the city that the Knowing live in. It’s created without technology, but has a very off-world futuristic feel. It’s corridors are traveled often, a few sparse rooms are visited, but it’s the secret locations that are visited in the final third of the novel that are immensely interesting as they undo one’s knowledge of the Underneath. The Outside is the ruined city of Caanan. It’s a medieval state and heavily populated. Both locations are described well, with the Underneath being the most intriguing because of its many secrets. Overall grade: A

The action: When Samara and Beckett first meet the tension is high in every chapter, with the point of view shifting between them every other chapter, making their hopes and suspicions clear to the reader. Plus, they’re encountering constant perils. There are no monsters or cheesy threats, but some viable problems that one would expect to encounter in a rural environment. Within the Underneath the tension is heavy, especially when the truth becomes known. There are no fisticuffs needed for this book as the tension compels the reader to continue to turn pages. Cameron is to be heavily congratulated for making a book this intense with little physical violence. Overall grade: A+ 

The conclusion: A surprising and satisfying conclusion, with not everyone well off. All is wrapped up, though there are just enough threads left dangling in the larger scheme of this universe to continue on with another novel. Overall grade: A

The final line: A terrific read for those wanting a good mystery, good science fiction, and strong characters. Threats come from all sides at these young heroes and readers will be eager to see what happens to them. I hope that Cameron will continue this saga. Overall grade: A 

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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