THE PLOT: The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris is a YA novel about a teenage boy who can see the future. Alex hasn’t been able to get rid of these “visions” since the accident which killed his parents. It’s exhausting, confusing, and gives him constant anxiety. When he gets a vision of his little brother’s death, he becomes desperate to prevent it from happening. But as a black boy from the South Side of Chicago, how can he protect his little brother when there is danger all around?
RATING: This is a fast-paced novel worthy of four shining stars. I absolutely raced through this book, particularly as I got towards the climax, which demonstrates how interesting the plot is. There are a lot of different elements, such as Alex’s “powers”, racism and mental health, grief and generational trauma, and it confronts stereotypes of what it means to be a man. This book took me on a whirlwind of different themes and blended them seamlessly into quintessential contemporary YA package.
GOOD BITS: The dynamic between Alex and his younger brother Isaiah is so cute. Their relationship feels natural, realistic, and is the heart of this novel. The way they speak together (i.e. good dialogue) and their physical interactions (i.e. good descriptions of touch and movement) are so intimate, I adored this portrait of sibling relationships. At first I wasn’t sure of the slightly supernatural element and I found it tedious that the main character had to “cancel his visions” every other page. However, I got into it and found it was a good metaphor for anxiety – being constantly worried about the “what if” outcomes of all your actions. In fact, I began to relate heavily!
NOT SO GOOD BITS: This book does fall into some YA tropes, and I generally do prefer the genre to push boundaries of what’s acceptable for teenage audiences. For example, you can guess some elements and the characters emotional states are over-explained – there’s not much nuance. This sometimes felt over-exaggerated and melodramatic because so many bad things happen – it’s kind of overwhelming. However, in a book where the main character can see the future (à la That’s So Raven), I guess the amount of terrible things which happen to him don’t have to be totally realistic. Plus, I admit that maybe this level of pain and loss isn’t my reality, but it might be for African-American boys from the same background as the main character.
OVERALL: If you’re a YA fan then this is a book to add to your list. I’d 110% recommend it for lovers of The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas – you will devour this. A little exaggerated at times, it does a good job of exploring what it means to be a young black boy in today’s world. Plus, it had me on the seat of my pants, racing through sentences and hurdling over words because I wanted to find out what happened next. And, in my opinion, a book can’t give you a much better feeling than that.
Thank you to Team Bookmark (Hodder Children’s Books / Hachette Kids) for sending me a #gifted copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The Cost of Knowing is published in the UK on 11 March 2021.