Monday, August 10, 2009

Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Book Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go

Author: Patrick Ness

Pages: 496

Summery (from PatrickNess.com):

Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown.

But Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in a constant, overwhelming, never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets.

Or are there?

Just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd unexpectedly stumbles upon a spot of complete silence.

Which is impossible.

Prentisstown has been lying to him.

And now he's going to have to run...


Can words express how much I loved The Knife of Never Letting Go? Probably not. But I'll do my best.

This book starts off with, single handedly, the best first sentence in the history of literature:

The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say. About Anything.


And so begins The Knife of Never Letting Go.

Todd lives in a world of Noise.

Constant, unfiltered, timeless Noise that wafts through his small community just as the sound of traffic does in ours. Every thought, every feeling, every tick of an emotion is broadcast for the entire world to hear--at least, as far as Todd is concerned. He's been told that Prentisstown is the only civilization in a world of nothing, desolate and empty for his entire life. Mr. Ness describes the Noise perfectly:

"The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking"


It's not hard to believe that the entire book is just Todd's Noise. Words are misspelled, do to his lack of education. Single sentences run on for paragraphs, words are cut off before they can even be processed, every thought Todd has is completely raw. While this could have easily been a gimick, Patrick Ness pulls it off with surprising grace and fluency. Easy to understand, easy to relate to, The Knife of Never Letting Go is coming-of-age tale set in a world where coming of age is deadly, and manhood is strictly defined. It's a place where you both wish you were and thank every God you can think of your not.

As for the characters, they are very well defined. Even Manchee, Todd's talking dog, seems be a character all his own, Todd's loyal companion throughout the book, putting his little dog life on the line a handful of times in order to protect him (the ever important "awwww" factor). At first, Todd makes it very clear that he does not want, and never asked for, Manchee (he wanted a knife, as it was), which he explains quite thoroughly:

Ben’s sent me to pick him some swamp apples and he’s made me take Manchee with me, even tho we all know Cillian only bought him to stay on Mayor Prentiss’ good side and so suddenly here’s this brand-new dog as a present for my birthday last year when I never said I wanted any dog, that what I said I wanted was for Cillian to finally fix the fissionbike so I wouldn’t have to walk every forsaken place in this stupid town, but oh, no, happy birthday, Todd, here’s a brand new puppy, Todd, and even tho you don’t want him, even tho you never asked for him, guess who has to feed him and train him and wash him and take him for walks and listen to him jabber now he’s got old enough for the talking germ to set his mouth moving? Guess who?


But, as you turn the pages and get deeper into Todd's chaotic thought process, you realize he does hold a certain affection for his dog, gradually turning into love as they spend their lonely days together running from God-knows-what, which I think is one of the more poigent parts of the book.

I especially love how they keep Todd and Viola's--the girl he meets as he runs from Prentisstown--unromantic. Call me a cynic, but it's highly unlikely that everytime a guy meets a girl, they fall in love. Especially while on the run from an army. I think that it's a curse that befalls far too much young adult literature these days--no matter how desperate the situation, no matter how CHAOTIC the circumstances, SOMEONE ALWAYS FALLS IN LOVE. I'm always a sucker for romance, but sometimes, it's just like, "I already read this. Three hundred times." If The Knife of Never Letting Go teaches us one thing, it's that a boy and a girl can meet and *gasp* just be friends.

Keep in mind, dear readers, that just because it's in the YA section, does not mean it's for the faint of heart: The Knife of Never Letting go is a horrific, all-to-realistic tale of what could happen to our--and other's--world if we're not careful. Though the year is unspecified, the place (and planet) left oddly in the dark, it's in a way that just makes it all the more eery and surreal.

There's no way of describing The Knife of Never Letting Go without spoiling it, but I will say this; anyone, young or old, should pick it up. Immediately. Go, you fools. Your missing out. There are precious hours being wasted. GO!

Also: If your interested in Post-Apocolyptic/Dystopian novels, might I suggest The Hunger Games, Obernewtyn, Exodus, Gone, or Life As We Knew It, all amazing books.

Rating: 10 out of 10

5 comments:

Ann-Kat (Today, I Read...) said...

I think you've sold me on this one...and so grows my TBR pile. LOL

On a serious tip, though, this does sound like an interesting book. I need something a bit different.

Mandy said...

I freakin' really liked this one too!! :) The Ask and the Answer is out soon, like in September and I can't even wait.

runningforfiction said...

this book sounds really interesting.
i just find it hard to read books where narrators misspell words.
my inner English teacher comes out and is all, 'uh...no.'

Jana said...

Hi. I just stumbled upon your blog and I freaking love it. You are hilarious and original and brilliant. You had me from your rating #2 description: "Bitch, please." And now I'm hooked. And forced to read pretty much every book you recommend, starting with this one. I'm not a writer or anything important, (or anything close to as witty and amazing with words as you) I'm just a normal girl who likes books and wanted to tell you I appreciate your talent. :)

alana said...

I stayed up till 5 this morning to finish this book. It was amazing. In fact, it’s the best book I’ve read this year so far. It reminded me a lot of The Inferior (which I also adored) so I’d point anyone who liked this book in that direction.

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