Date of Publication: May 5 2008
Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee -- whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not -- stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden -- a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.
I'm incoherent right now. My main reaction to finishing the first book in Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking series is 'ARGH!'. If you could read my Noise, it would be a loop of "WHY! UGH! NOO!"
All things considered, I think The Knife of Never Letting Go was a success. I had been meaning to read this book for quite some time. A friend of mine had read it before and I kept seeing it around. When I finally picked it up from the library, I was pleased to realize that Patrick Ness was the author. You know, the guy that wrote More Than This. I've only read two books of his but I'm starting to feel like he has a very distinctive writing style.
The story started out slow. There is a mystery and it builds itself up. I didn't really like Todd very much. He kept kicking his dog, Manchee, and needless to say I don't find abuse very endearing. Todd was an immature child and I think the absolute strongest part of The Knife is watching him grow into a man. I hear a lot about coming of age stories, and I feel like this one fits that label perfectly. A major theme in the story was the idea of becoming a man, and what it takes.
The best description for the plot is to consider the idea of a snowball rolling down a hill. It starts out small, but gradually the plot picks up until it's pretty huge and exciting. In fact, there were a few shocking twists and events that *hurt*. I shed a few tears for one major plot twist even though a few pages before it occurred, you could feel the foreshadowing. That didn't change the tragedy of the situation. I think the story is only going to get better from the ENORMOUS cliffhanger the book ended with. The Knife got stronger as it progressed and by the end, I couldn't help but be completely engrossed in the story and craving the next book.
The world is also something to talk about. Todd lives with only men, who project Noise, which is like information about somebody revealing their thoughts. You would expect that to mean that the society is very upfront, but it isn't. Men can still have lies in their Noise. I was really impressed with the idea of Noise and all the issues that came with it. The idea of settling on a new planet and all the struggles that come with aliens and life is fascinating. The idea that you can't run away from your problems, and the ideas of innocence are very well explored.
I also think the writing deserves some mention. Todd isn't very well educated so he speaks in dialect, and the entire story is like that. As in most cases, I started the story hating the dialect but gradually grew to forget about it. It's just a part of Todd and his life now. In the typical Patrick Ness fashion (which I can say I know since I read TWO WHOLE BOOKS by him) a lot of the pleasure in The Knife of Never Letting Go is unraveling the plot, so this review has been pretty vague. There is a lot to the book that I have purposefully not mentioned.
Now, this wasn't a perfect book for me. The beginning was slow, and I liked the characters but I didn't truly love any of them. Also, I'm really bitter about something I won't spoil. The main villain irritated me, and I didn't find his character believable. These are all nitpicky little things because I did enjoy The Knife very much. So, it gets 4 stars.