Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Rating: 5/5 moments of stunned silence
‘Who am I?
I am Todd Hewitt.
I am the biggest, effing waste of nothing known to man.
I can’t do it.’
I can’t do it.’
A brief, tantalising synopsis:
The Knife of Never Letting Go follows the journey of Tod Hewitt, the youngest boy in Prentisstown and soon to become a man. In Prentisstown, a town of men, the noise means all thoughts can be heard and nothing is sacred, so how is it he found a spot of silence? All that matters is he has, and it changes everything. With all he's ever known falling down around him, he must learn to trust new allies in order to find the truth, but at every turn the past threatens to destroy him.
I know I'm a little late on the uptake with this book, but I loved, loved, loved it and literally read it in record speed, I swear.
There's a lot of amazing YA books out there that deal with potentially similar happenings, but this one stands out for me. Why does it?
Well, Patrick Ness captures every emotion perfectly: I could emphasise with Todd when everything he knows starts to crumble because he feels like I probably would in the same situation. Same with Viola, I mean we’ve all been thrust into an alien (perhaps not as literally) situation before and had to deal. I didn’t feel like Ness had forgotten there was a reader on the other end of the book, who to be involved in the story, needs to feel the characters.
Plus, the fact that it was a first person narrative doesn’t hold anything back for me, in terms of getting to know other characters. In fact it exemplifies it, because we can see Todd as he learns to read and understand other people. But you’ll really have to read the book to find out more about that. *shifts eyes suspiciously*
It was quite fast paced, but that’s the way I like my dystopian stories – I’m not always particularly patient, fast action is best for me. Ness gives this whilst keeping just enough hidden so that you have to read the whole book in one sitting just to discover it. It has me hooked from start to finish, and by the end of it had be clenching my teeth in suspense.
From an aesthetic point of view, I thought the way that the chaos of the noise was brought onto page through fonts etc. really made me see what the characters hear, and the phonetic spelling used by the narrator (a.k.a Todd) highlighted the differences between their world and our world. It gave me an idea about Todd and how he speaks, which seems like a silly thing but it's important when you're trying to visualise someone.
I also like my stories gritty and with lots of ugly bad-guys. In The Knife of Never Letting Go there's a whole herd of them, all on different bad-guy levels. And in terms of grittiness well it's plenty that as well, no roses and teddy-bears for this lot, just angst (both teenage and otherwise) mixed with some pretty heavy-duty action. Although it doesn't verge on being sickly. Don't worry though, it is lightened by the comedic lightness of characters such as Manchee ("Poo. Poo, Todd.") as well as all the developing feels that literally seep from the protagonists. And therefore into me.
If I had to point out anything I didn't like about the book, I'd say that it does leave such an awful lot uncovered, and I know it's part of a series so it has to, but it was frustrating (probably in a good way). I hope that more is learnt about the Spackle and about the history of Prentisstown in the next few books! I guess I'll have to find out.
So give this book a go if you like dystopian fiction with a good amount of grittiness and some excellently depicted characters. And if you're reading this and have already read the book, what did you think? :)