The Knife of Never Letting Go
By Patrick Ness
Paperback, 512 pages
2014, Candlewick Press
Todd lives in Prentisstown – a place where all the residents can hear each other’s every thought. They call it Noise and even the animals have it. As Todd nears manhood, he discovers a secret which forces him to run for his life.,,only it’s hard to escape when the people after you can hear your thoughts.
This book has been on my shelves for –checks watch- an embarrassingly long time. I’ve always been “meaning to read it” just like every damn book, right? Well they’re making a movie and Mum wanted to read it beforehand. I’m glad she suggested a friend buddy read so I could finally experience this book! Mum kindly agreed to write up some of her thoughts too, so today I bring you our dual review (wow, sweet rhyme.)
This book is certainly compelling, I’ll give it that. I was hooked from the first few pages because the premise was engaging and I needed to find out what the hell this town and its Noise was all about.
Mum: The action in book 1 is pretty quick to start, but I feel like it comes at the cost of some character development.
I didn’t feel the same way – I mean, yeah there wasn’t a ton of character development, but I was more interested in the world and the town than any one person in it. Also, there’s a talking dog, so what more could I ask for?
Mum: I had a hard time caring about anyone other than the talking dog, Manchee. I really struggled to like the main character, Todd. He annoyed the heck out of me! My “buddy” [dat me] felt his age and lack of knowledge were contributing factors in shaping his personality. I didn’t cut him any slack. Characters that fail to learn from their mistakes fail to grow, and that drives me nuts!
We spent a lot of time texting about Todd and his screw-ups. I did defend him through almost the entire story (actually, maybe even the whole story.) He’s a thirteen-year-old boy! OF COURSE he’s going to make a lot of stupid mistakes. He grew up in a world where everyone’s thoughts are telegraphed constantly and wasn’t given any guidance on how to control his thoughts. It wasn’t even really stressed that he should control his thoughts.
That’s not to say Todd didn’t totally drive me nuts. He definitely did. I just think, given his age and upbringing, it made sense. At least, for the first book. But I do believe that characters should learn and grow – it’s what makes them compelling. I wouldn’t classify Todd as a compelling character. As I said before, it was the story and the world-building which drove me forward.
Mum: Moving past the one-dimensional characters to the plot…I had all the twists figured out, so there were few surprises in the end. Still, somehow the book was easy to read and it kept me wanting to see what would happen next. I was hoping for a change in Todd, but nope…and cliffhanger ending seemed cliché. But on to book 2! Lol.
My score for figuring out plot twists is generally very low, so I didn’t see them all coming. But there were a few key scenes I wasn’t surprised by – just mad that they happened as predicted, because, well, they sucked! The book really goes for some cheap feels and it worked on me in at least one instance.
For a thicc book (yeah, I went there – gotta keep up with the kids these days!) it really does read quickly. Todd’s vernacular is distinctive, but easy to read and understand. The writing flows and it was definitely a “just one more chapter” kind of read. There’s even some special design when it comes to Noise:
Y’all probably know my track record with YA isn’t great. So to find a semi-apocalyptic, sorta-dystopian, YA, sci-fi adventure book that I enjoyed was definitely surprising. Part of my enjoyment probably comes from the main character being a doofy boy, rather than a sexy-teen-assassin-princess, but whatever. Ness is a pretty solid writer and he’s definitely someone whose books I’ll keep reading, even though I’m not sure I’ll ever re-read this series.
I recommend this if:
+ You’re looking for a summer read you can fly through
+ You enjoy YA sci-fi/adventure
+ You want to read the book before the movie comes out so you can be totally judgy about everything the movie did wrong (I’m not knocking this, it’s totally a thing I do!)
+ You’re a fan of Ness’s work