Wednesday, October 17, 2012
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
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?
The Knife of Never Letting Go on Goodreads
The Knife of Never Letting Go on Amazon
Patrick Ness' Website
This is one of those books that I have mixed feelings about. I struggled to read the awkward prose, but I mostly enjoyed the plot, which was so convoluted and twisted that you just can't help but keep turning pages to figure out was happens next.
Ness has created a fascinating futuristic New World - settlers from Earth (presumably) have moved to this new planet and made it their own. There are settlements all over the planet, a planet which was taken by force by the settlers from the resident aliens (called the Spackle).
Todd lives in one of these settlements, Prentisstown, which is a town full of only men. The men can all hear each others thoughts, which they call Noise. One of the big questions we have, right from the start, is what happened to all of the women?
In a month's time, Todd will "become a man." All boys "become men" at the age of 13 in Prentisstown and Todd is the last boy to "become a man." But before that can happen, Todd (and his dog, Manchee) come across something in the woods that starts unraveling everything Todd has ever known. He and Manchee must set off on a journey across the New World, running for their lives, all while trying to figure out how much of what Todd knows is truth and how many lies he has been force fed since he was a baby.
I can't say I mostly enjoyed reading about Todd's adventures. The tension was good, but there never felt like a lull in it. Todd was subject to bad thing after bad thing after bad thing up until the end where Ness leaves you with a huge cliffhanger of a bad thing. It was hard to feel hope for Todd's predicament.
Todd also was a difficult protagonist for me to like. He was very rude and stuck in his ways. He did eventually come around, but for most of the novel I was really annoyed with his behavior. He just wasn't a pleasant person to be inside of for nearly 500 pages.
One of the biggest issues I had with this novel was the prose. There are purposeful spelling and grammatical errors, most of which I could deal with... but they were sporadic. For example, everything ending in "tion" was spelled with "shun" instead. Like, information would be informayshun. It makes sense when considering Todd's lack of education, but Todd spelled plenty of other difficult words without issue.
Ness also has a habit of having Todd learn something, but keep it from the reader. For example, Todd would ask a question and get the answer from someone's Noise, but he wouldn't let us in on it. He would just get mad.
Ness also has a strange way of writing action scenes that I found difficult to follow. A typical one would look something like this:
Davy pulls on the reins-
"Effing horse!" Davy shouts-
He tries to jerk on the reins again-
The horse is twisting round one more time-
The horse brings Davy round to me, careening him low in the saddle-
And there's my chance-
And so on for 3-4 pages.
It was an interesting way to write them, but I personally didn't like it.
I'm debating with myself as to whether or not I will finish the series. I'm curious to see what happens, but I am not feeling obsessively "OMG I NEED TO KNOW" about it at the moment and I have about a dozen library books sitting here waiting to be read that are looking far more appetizing to me at the moment. I may pick this series back up in a few weeks and see how I feel then.
3 out of 5 stars.
Link to Kala's review on Goodreads: