Friday, October 30, 2009

"The Knife of Never Letting Go" by Patrick Ness

Summary: In a month, Todd will be a man and will stop being the only boy left in Prentisstown.  When his parents and others landed in the New World trying to start a new life, they didn't realize their settlement would be infected by the Noise.  All the women and half the men died. Now, all the remaining people in Prentisstown can hear everyone else's thoughts, all at once.  The constant Noise that surrounds them is deafening and overwhelming.  When Todd accidentally discovers a girl--and the silence (not Noise) that surrounds her--he finds himself being forced to run from Prentisstown without knowing its dark secrets.

Musings: After reading a number of other reviews on this novel, I had some idea of what to expect and wasn't disappointed.  The Knife of Never Letting Go immediately inundates the reader with secrets and action at a break-neck speed and doesn't slow down right down until the last page.  The choppy sentences, following one line after another, increase the reading adrenaline, which made me physically nervous and excited as I read.  The action never stops, meaning there's really no good place to put down the book for another time.

The speed makes the book draining emotionally, and one death, in particular, had me cursing the "effing" author Ness for several minutes as I grasped for tissues.  I still don't think I've forgiven him, even though I rapidly drank in the remainder of his book.

The book definitely falls on the darker side of YA dystopian lit.  Beyond the deaths and grisly truths of the new society, Todd also finds himself dealing with self-loathing in a way that was scary and real.  He developed more as a character for me than the girl, Viola, but I'm hoping she'll be given more room in the next book.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book; it felt most similar to The Hunger Games although the basic premise of that book attracted me more than Ness's did.  But, that's not to say Knife is not without flaws.  The book begins with a mountain of secrets, and very little is revealed through most of the novel.  When some truth finally surfaces, near the end, it's a little anti-climactic.  Todd narrates the novel, and in an attempt to imitate his "hick" style, occasional words in the narration are misspelled (like "yer" instead of "you" or "conversayshun" instead of "conversation").  I found it distracting rather than enlightening.  One main "bad guy" comes back from the dead so often you'd think you were in a bad horror movie.

Nevertheless, I'm more than willing to pick up the next book in the series, The Ask and the Answer.  Unfortunately my library system doesn't have a copy, so I'll have to get creative.


  1. Great review! I'd love to post this in our discussion group on FaceBook, if you'd permit! The Chaos Walking Discussion Group on FaceBook I'm posting great blog reviews, interviews with the author, and more reviews in the mainstream media.

    I think you'll find The Ask and The Answer as absorbing as Knife, with the developments you foresee and others equally as surprising.

  2. Sure, you're welcome to post the review. I just requested The Ask and the Answer from the state library system, so I'm hoping I'll get it relatively soon!

  3. I love that you put my exact thoughts on The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Hunger Games out there. And I mean EXACT. I'm looking forward to The Ask and the Answer as well, but I may give myself a bit of recovery time (and a couple of romantic novels) in between the reads. :)
    Great review!

  4. I enjoyed reading this review :) Quite a few people seemed to have liked this book, I'm going to look out for a copy.