Series: Chaos Walking #1
Published by Walker on May 5th 2008
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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.
But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?
So, Patrick Ness and I, we got off on the wrong foot. Everyone and their mother seems to adore The Knife of Never Letting Go and the shop assistant at my local book store all but shoved this book into my bag. But for me, this book presented somewhat of a struggle. My expectations were high, as the book had been so hyped, but they weren’t met.
“But a knife ain’t just a thing, is it? It’s a choice, it’s something you do. A knife says yes or no, cut or not, die or don’t. A knife takes a decision out of your hand and puts it in the world and it never goes back again.”
The childish, simplistic writing irked me a lot, and the occasional Noise scribbled across the pages in a huge, etchy font disrupts the flow of the prose. Both of these aspects irritated me a great deal, which made this reading experience a lot less fun. I understand that this is part of the world-building but it just isn’t serviceable, in my opinion.
The world-building is original, if a little weird, and I really liked the futuresque concept Patrick Ness had chosen for this book. The New World has an air of colonisation, repression, mystery, and danger. There’s a lot of swearing and violence and tension, which I enjoyed to a certain extent. The plot follows a linear line, and though I had quite a few issues with the book as a whole, I couldn’t put this book down, even if I sometimes really wished I had been able to. And when I say linear, I mean the plot picked up halfway through the book and ended in an agonizing cliffhanger of the epic, give-me-that-damn-sequel sort.
My main problem began with the introduction of the main character, Todd, which is a problem since the book’s content usually rises and falls with the narrator. I could not for the life of me connect with Todd. Everyone seems to have fallen in love with this helpless creature and all I could feel was annoyance with the constant complaining. He does, however, go through an astounding character development, which I quite enjoyed. His growth is dependent on the emergence of another lead character: Viola. Now, this girl I liked. She is intriguing due to her wits and her loyalty, and the friendship between Todd and Viola is most precious.
The Knife of Never Letting Go is unique, and it’s either your cup of tea or not. I’d say it’s one of those books that generate strong opinions, be it positive or negative ones. I can see where Ness did well, but overall I’m a bit underwhelmed.