Review: The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife Of Never Letting Go Patrick Ness Chaos Walking
The Knife Of Never Letting Go Patrick Ness Cover Chaos Walking

Title: The Knife Of Never Letting Go 
Author: Patrick Ness 
Series: Chaos Walking #1 
Genre: Science Fiction, YA 
Publication date: May 5, 2008 
Rating: ★★★★½ 

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him – something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily quiet creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he really is.

This book was good. Really good even. I liked it a lot. It was well-written, interesting, compelling, lots of feelings, tense… And yet I couldn’t give it a five star rating. Because a five star ration is not a rating so much as it is an emotion. I only give five star ratings to books that consumed me. This one didn’t. It took me about ten days to read it, and for me that’s actually quite some time. There are multiple reasons why it took me that long (not all of them related to the book), but it still means something. Yet, I’ll say it again, it was definitely good. Surprising, too. The story was not at all what I expected. Of course I’d read the synopsis, but turns out that only covered the first few chapters of the book. I didn’t mind. I like having no idea where a story is headed.

But – there’s something I need to get of my chest. The writing bothered me. A lot. Slightly less near the end, I’ll give it that, but I had a really hard time getting used to it. I get why the author chose to write this way and it may in some ways serve the story, true. But I’m always struggling to express myself in English and so I can’t comprehend why someone who is perfectly capable and probably even excellent, would purposefully write stayshun instead of station. I was able to overlook the ain’ts and don’t do nothings, but the other words not so much. Apart from the writing occasionally, there wasn’t a lot I didn’t like about The Knife Of Never Letting Go. Perhaps, maybe, that Todd and Viola were a bit too young to my liking. Nothing major, though.

The concept of the story, on the other hand, is very interesting. Todd Hewitt lives in a town called Prentisstown. It’s a small settlement with only boys and men and it’s completely cut off from the outside world. In this town, everyone can hear each other’s thoughts. Not just people’s thoughts, but the thoughts from everything that’s living. There’re so many thoughts and ideas flowing around that there’s never any silence. There only ever is noise. Noise. Capital letter. Noise becomes a name for the constant, maddening buzz.

I loved this setting. It’s nothing I’ve ever encountered before and it’s really well thought of in my opinion. It also explains the interesting POV Patrick Ness used writing this book. We’re experiencing the story through Todd’s eyes. Literally. We’re in his head, ‘hearing’ his thoughts. Everything he knows, we know. Everything he thinks or says, we know. I enjoyed this a lot. First of all because this way, as a reader, you’re completely oblivious to what’s happening outside of Todd’s knowledge. He’s a pretty naive kid, one that really doesn’t know anything about the world and we learn as he learns. Secondly, because it was often hilarious. When he was insulting people and cursing, mostly.

Not fast enough, Todd. Move yer effing feet, you gonk.

Or when he was thinking about/at Manchee, his dog, who was a great character, even with him being a dog and all.

“Need a poo, Todd.”“Shut up, Manchee.”“Poo. Poo, Todd.”“I said shut it.”
“Squirrel! Squirrel! Squirrel!Squirrel, Todd, squirrel!”

Viola is the other main character in this story and a source of ‘quiet’. Todd (and everyone else) can’t hear her thoughts and it’s a completely new experience for him – and for us. I liked her. She’s a bit mysterious and hard to read, but she’s tough and has a good heart. I still think there’s more to her than I’m aware of now (at the end of the book) and I’m really excited to get to know her even better.

There were a lot of other characters, but none as important as Todd and Viola. Still, I have to say. I really loved Ben (Todd’s surrogate father). He isn’t a huge part of this book, but I still felt an immediate connection to him. Sometimes things like that just happen, right?

I can’t really say too much a about the plot itself without giving away too much. The really fun (and sometimes ‘infuriating’) part of this book is that you really don’t know anything. You’re constantly guessing and you’re mostly guessing wrong. So if I’d tell you know, a lot of the story would be spoiled for you. Just believe me when I say it’s definitely worth reading! On to part two now, The Ask and the Answer.

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