This is the kind of book I have to write about, rather than want to write about, because I just don’t think I could capture my thoughts on paper well enough to express how much I loved this book. Before anything, I want to tell you that you have to read this. The Knife of Never Letting Go is the kind of book that will set all prejudice about Young Adult literature not being for grown-ups to right. It is one of the cleverest books I have ever read, and certainly deserves all the praise it receives in the book blogging world, and a lot more attention in the world of the general reading public. I know that the people who haven’t read this yet, but know about it, are probably either nervous to pick it up, or feel that the premise of the story doesn’t sound like it would be of interest to them. At least, those last two reasons are why I was at first hesitant to start reading this first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. I hope that you will be able to set them aside, as I have, because this book is well-worth the read. More than that, I think it turned into one of all-time favourites when I was only in the middle of it. (Oh yes, another reason why I was hesitant to write this post is because of all the gushing that is about to start).
Tod Hewitt grew up in Prentisstown. He is the last boy living there, and will be the last to become a man, when he turns thirteen in a month. In Prentisstown, every one can hear every one else’s thoughts. The Noise, the name for this phenomena, is due to a virus released by the Spackle during the Spackle war. The same virus also killed all the women. There is no escaping the Noise. But, one day, when Todd visits the swamp with his dog Manchee, they find a space of silence, something that he has always been told doesn’t exist.
It is difficult to discuss The Knife of Never Letting Go without revealing spoilers right from the start. How to convince someone who hasn’t read it, that it is worth your time, without giving anything away? What I can say is that Patrick Ness uses his world-building, his main character Todd, the story he spins around him, as well as the power of words (both through The Noise and his use of specific words, fonts, etc) to discuss a list of complex issues, such as war, the danger of stereotypes, the power of knowledge, etcetera. What I particularly loved was how these issues are intermixed with the story, never in your face, never something you have to consider, transporting you outside of this fantastic world, but are rather interwoven with the whole plot, and sure to take many directions in the following books.
I could not resist having a little section where I can squeee a little more about this book, for those who have read it already.
Manchee: I loved Manchee. Halfway into the book, he was my favourite character. As if I needed anything more than a talking dog to make me love this story. I cried like a baby when he died. I still get sad thinking about it. And for a small amount of time, I hated the idea that I had been telling everyone on twitter how amazing Manchee was, and how you all must have known what was bound to happen.
The cleverness of Ness’ story still gets to me. His creation of a gender divide to discuss the issues surrounding exactly a believe in that divide. I loved Todd’s defence that Viola was not his girl, but her own person. I loved the scene where Todd realises he can read Viola, as if she had Noise too. I loved Todd’s struggle with the Prentisstown ideal of manhood, how he eventually rejects the “age is a number” idea, and the rite of passage attached to the birthday. The discussion of ideologies, the different takes on Noise wherever Todd travels, but mostly how it took on the form of oppression, Todd’s struggle to resist the lure of the “safe” story he was told throughout childhood, Todd’s struggle with Violence. That scene where he killed a Spackle. I cried so much. I really can go on and on about this book.
And that cliffhanger, what can I say?
End of Spoilers
As I write this, I have already finished the second book in the series, The Ask and the Answer, which will, I am sure, result in another post that tells you to GO READ IT. I am nervous about starting the third book, sad to have to say goodbye to the story once I finish it. Struggling to handle another book with this much tension. Because though the book is beautiful, it is difficult as well. Another one of Patrick Ness’ strong points is that he clearly does not believe in a simple story, nor does he seem to think making the world easier on the characters he created is right in teenage fiction. And I have to say, I loved this story all the more for it.
Other Opinions: Things Mean A Lot, The Zen Leaf, Becky’s Book Reviews, Presenting Lenore, Renay, The Well-Read Child, Fantasty Book Critic, Wands and Words, YA Reads, The Page Flipper, Lisa the Nerd, Bitten by Books, Confessions of a Bibliovore, books i done read, Jenny’s Books, Regular Ruminations, Serendipity, Nothing of Importance, Bart’s Bookshelf, Flight Into Fantasy, where troubles melt like lemon drops, Farm Lane Books, Fyrefly’s Book Blog, The Knife of Never Letting Go.
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