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Monday, October 26, 2009

Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go: Chaos Walking, Book 1 by Patrick Ness

I am a big fan of dystopic fiction, and The Knife of Never Letting Go is one of the most compelling pieces of dystopia I have read in awhile.

Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown. His birthday is coming, when he will take his place among the men of his community: a community of only men, where each can hear the others' thoughts. The inhabitants of Prentisstown -- man and beast alike -- are afflicted with Noise: a continual stream of thoughts and images from every male creature. There is no stopping or shielding Noise, it is just a way of life. But when Todd stumbles upon a hole in the Noise, things begin to change in Todd's life and he finds himself on the run from all of the people he's ever known, and discovering along the way that all he's known to be true may not be.

I loved Todd's voice. It did take some getting used to; and not just Todd's voice but the steady stream of all voices, down to Todd's dog, Manchee, or the crocodiles that want to eat him. But Noise has a different font (or many), and once the transition into Noise has been made, all of the voices become very compelling and interesting. Ness manages to make them distinct, which is no easy feat. He also keeps the sense of urgency going through the story without ever making the reader think "Oh, enough already!", or without giving away too much information too soon, so that the revelations along the way are spoiled. The action remains taut and the narrative quick-paced and interesting.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first in a trilogy, Chaos Walking, and Ness couldn't have made that more clear. First, there is no way that the conflicts of the story could have been resolved in one book; second, the ending is so abrupt that it would leave most readers extremely irritated if it was not to be continued. The ending still may irritate some, but it certainly makes you want to read the next in the series, The Ask and the Answer...

Really, there's not much more I can say with out giving something crucial away. There's a lot of crucial in this book. But if you can't feel for Todd and get caught up in his story (that is, if you have the attention span to handle Noise), then I don't think you're human. I'm just saying.

Bonus Material:

Patrick Ness's site, with various random bits for you to consume.

This won a whole mess of stuff, like:
2008 Booktrust Teenage Prize
2008 Guardian Award
2008 Jame Tiptree Award
2009 Carnegie Medal (shortlisted)
2009 Manchester Book Award (longlisted)

This book has some pretty sweet covers. It's one of those "I want to own them all" things. Which is your fave? (mine's #2)

Here's a little interview with Ness where he talks a bit about the book. All the while, Get the Party Started is playing. Not sure why...

*Review coming. I just finished it and have a LOT to say, and can't say it because again, it's all crucial. :}


  1. I've been glad to see an increase in dystopian YA fiction lately. I have so many on my list, I might just have to join one of those dystopian challenges floating around the blogosphere. This one's going on the list! Thanks for the heads up!

    Natalie @ Mindful Musings

  2. I have seen this cover around the internet recently. I like the second one though.

    Ok, I had to go look up the word dystopia. Ack, don't know if this is something I would read. Thanks for the review.

    Elie (Ellz Readz)

  3. Oh yeah, this book's okay I GUESS. I mean, you've have to twist my arm to make me say so :D

  4. Great Review!

    Btw, you got an award over at my blog :)

  5. Thanks for that great review - always good when someone is so passionate about the book being reviewed.

  6. I've got this book on my shelf. I'll get to it soon - hopefully! Thanks for the review.

  7. This is in my TBR, and I definitely have to read it soon. I'm really intrigued to find out how 'Noise' reads.

  8. This looks like something I'd like. A little different from the paranormal I usually do!

  9. I need this book! I've seen it about, but the cover has me go "meh" and not even bother to pick it up to read the blurb. You're review though... I gotta have this book! I am SO intrigued! And books that are all "crucial" are bound to be awesome, in my opinion. I need this book! Cheers, Misty!

  10. Buy now, it is fantastic. (Or hope to win and pick it)

  11. Wow. I really need to read this. It sounds like everyone and their dog have already read it before me, lol.

  12. Ah, yes! I LOVED it. Couldn't put it down. As you said, the voice...the style, the tone...it was so singular and engaging. And I preferred the third cover, as the knife referred to in the title is not just a physical thing but a metaphoric thing....but the covers featuring the knife really take the focus away from the metaphoric "knife". Aaaaaand I can't wait until The Ask and The Answer hits my bookshelves. :D


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