Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1)

The Knife of Never Letting Go
Patrick Ness
479 pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: purchased

You can read the Goodreads summary here.

I purchased this book because I'm finally joining a real-life book club (YA for adults!  Be still my beating heart!) and this is the first selection.  I'd never heard of it before, but a cursory glance of the back cover made me think it was something I would enjoy.  I was on board.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the story of Todd Hewitt, just a few weeks away from officially becoming a man, Todd is growing up in Prentisstown in the New World.  In Prentisstown, there are no women and every man's thoughts can be heard by every other man leading to a huge amount of noise.  But one day when Todd walks into the woods and hears silence, his guardians hastily tell him he must leave Prentisstown and soon Todd is on adventure and he's not quite sure why, but he will come to discover that Prentisstown is not all he was led to believe.

The first thing that struck me was Todd's dialect.  It was very backwoods and that's how the whole novel was written.  The first sentence in the novel, for example: "The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say.  About anything."  I was afraid a book full of "yers" and words ending in "shuns" instead of "tions" would be distracting, but I caught on to the voice of the novel rather quickly and ultimately this language aided in creating a wonderful novel.  The story would have been much less believable if Todd spoke perfect English.  Besides, Todd might sound like a dumb hick, but he's actually very smart for someone with practically no education.  Despite his flaws, Todd was a very likable character.

The silence Todd comes across while in the woods is actually a girl.  Growing up in Prentisstown, Todd had been told that when they arrived to the New World (another planet) they settlers had to fight with the local alien group, who fashioned a biological warfare disease that killed off all the women.  So seeing this girl was a huge shock to Todd and thus began his journey, not only of leaving Prentisstown, but of learning the truth.  Taking that journey along with Todd, I began just as confused as he was since no one would explain to him what the truth was (and they couldn't because everyone else would be able to hear it in their thoughts).  It wasn't until the end of the novel that the truth, or most of it, is learned and it all falls into place.

Todd takes a very interesting journey.  The Knife of Never Letting Go is extremely action packed and I found myself having to set down the novel to take a breather.  Todd never rests!  Of course, you wouldn't either if you were being chased.  The journey didn't go quite as I'd hoped, however.  Part of the ending was predictable, but that didn't bother me.  There were two things in particular, on the other hand, that really did bother me, though I cannot recount them here because they are massive spoilers.  I really wanted to drop my rating to three stars because of it, but...

Four stars!  I cannot fault the author simply for writing a story whose outcome I didn't like.  I can kick and scream, but ultimately Patrick Ness is a great writer.  However, the book dragged on a bit towards the end and I got that feeling of "let's be done already" which is where The Knife of Never Letting Go loses a star from me.  If you love post-apocalytic novels, you'll definitely want to check out this, one the YA originals.  You can also check out "The New World," a prequel by Ness that takes place before The Knife of Never Letting Go... it's free!



  1. ooh this series is on my wishlist..but now i am thinking a library read first..thanks for the great review.

    1. I think it's worth owning a copy, if that's what you're thinking, but either way it's definitely worth a read. I see it on people's TBRs and wish lists a lot, they should read it soon rather than later, particularly if they're a dystopian or post-apocolytpic fan.


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