Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, Book One)
Author: Patrick Ness
Themes: family, friendship, loyalty, murder, privacy, trust, escape, hope
Plot: Prentisstown isn't like other towns.
Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in an overwhelming, ever-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?
My Thoughts: I may be the last person to this particular party, but I was fairly impressed with The Knife of Never Letting Go. My thoughts are still a little scattered, but I intend to keep this review short since this book has received so many reviews already!
I think I should share that at one point (let's just say the chapter entitled "The Wicked Are Punished") I literally burst into tears and threw the book down with the intention of never picking it back up (except to return it to the library) because I utterly despised the main character. A week passed and I caved, not because I was curious about the story or Todd, but because I have a strange compulsion to finish every book I start-no matter how much I don't want to. The first page I cried again remembering what had happened when I threw the book down. I have only cried with two other books-Where the Red Fern Grows and Gone With the Wind (when the only decent person in the book dies).
The story is excellent, the first person badly-spelled narrative is effective and enjoyable, and the environment Ness created is captivating and intriguing with equal parts horror and despair.
But that damned dog, Manchee, he was the only character I liked.
There are some truly scary things going on in The Knife of Never Letting Go. Overall I liked the book-I liked the world and the exploration of ways to deal with the Noise. But I hated the story. I found that the Todd storyline was becoming rather outrageous, yes I understand he's a symbol to his little town...but obviously he wasn't necessary in the large scheme of things and I failed to see how he remained so vitally important in the eyes of Prentisstown leadership. I also failed to see any sort of sense in the storyline of Prentisstown even as the book concluded (on a great cliffhanger, just so you know)...I just felt like I couldn't make sense of it and that events and people existed not because they had a story to tell but because something needed to propel Todd along.
Recommendation: I would recommend this book to any sci-fi or young adult fans, however I won't be re-reading this or reading the sequels. I just can't find it in my heart to like Todd after that particular chapter, and I don't really care what happens to him-although I love the world-building Ness has done, I simply can't connect to his protagonist any more.
Random Quote: "The hoofbeats get louder, echoing down the canyon.
But if there suddenly ain't no bridge-
I saw some more.
And some more.
And some more.
And I'm just not making no progress at all." (p. 121)
Ness, Patrick. The Knife of Never Letting Go. Barryville, VA: Candlewick Press, 2008.