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?
PREFACE:This book was one I had seen and heard about and even read the back cover copy of a few times. But I never really thought it was a book for me. My friend Meg of Myth-illogical finally convinced me to read it after talking it up and loaning me a copy. So did The Knife of Never Letting Go end up being a book for me?
WRITING:This is an odd book when it comes to writing. The story is through the point of view of Todd, a boy on the verge of manhood. Where he is from, education was not a high priority and he was never one who did well with reading or language. This shows through in the way Patrick Ness uses language in the book. Several words are often misspelled, and when Todd is in an intense situation, sometimes there is no punctuation to be found. This puts the reader directly in Todd's mind. At first, it was a little strange, but I ended up liking it. It completely fit the tone of the story.
Now when it came to the storytelling aspect, I thought Ness did a really good job. He writes well enough that even though the words are filtered through Todd's imperfect brain, it still works how it is supposed to and the reader is in no way confused and can easily follow the story.
SETTING:This novel is set on a planet that is not the original Earth, sometime in the future, though the details are not very abundant. The setting for this novel makes me think of barren fields, dark forests, deep ravines, and rolling hills. It reminds me of what the settlers of the West would have encountered when traveling to expand the United States. IThe setting is really a series of backdrops that work well and serve the story by keeping the focus on the characters while occasionally acting as an obstacle. It also gave the story a real sense of the journey which worked in its favor.
Oh, Todd. Todd was a character I didn't quite get at first. In the beginning, as things really get rolling, you feel bad for him. He is so confused and lost and you can't help but feel for him. He's not perfect, by any means, but as the novel progresses, you get a sense of the kind of man Todd can become. He struggles with this through most of the book and by the end his struggles and determination to be a good person really make you root for him.
Viola was another character that I didn't quite feel for at first. At least, I didn't feel anything for her other than pity. She is a stranger in a strange land, especially when she meets Todd, but again, as the story moves along, more of her true nature is revealed and I really loved her by the end of it.
I want to mention Manchee, but I also don't want to talk too much about him either. So we'll just leave it at there is a talking dog named Manchee. You've been warned.
The men of Prentisstown, where Todd is from, are downright crazy. Scary crazy. I am definitely glad I don't live in Todd's world.
DOWNSIDE:I only have two small downsides for this novel. The first is that I have a really hard time loving a novel that creeps me out too much or scares me or makes me feel bad. While this novel only does each to a few degrees, it is still enough that I find myself thinking about the story long after having read it. This is usually a good thing, except I'm remembering all the horrible things that occur, which is not happymaking for me. I mean, just thinking about it while writing this review is causing that little catch in my chest.
The second downside is that there is a big reveal near the end that I expected to be much bigger. I pretty much had this big secret thing figured out, but the way it was gone on about in the novel made me think it was worse than I was imagining it to be. I was imagining it correctly, which was kind of a let down when I had prepared myself for something much worse.
The first cool thing about this novel, and what really hooked me into reading it, was that the Noise, the thoughts of all the people in the town, is sometimes represented on the page as a jumble of words and sentences in many different fonts and such. It sounds crazy but it is cool.
The second thing is this story is full of action and tension and suspense. I couldn't not stop reading. I wanted to read and find out what happened when I was supposed to be at work and it was torture to have to wait until break or lunch time to continue the story. It was that good.
The third thing is that Ness is one of those authors that keeps throwing you curves when you're expecting a fastball. There were several times I was just waiting for the next punch to the gut and then the end is a real heavy hitter of a cliffhanger.
VERDICT:Despite being a difficult story, I am glad I read The Knife of Never Letting Go. It is a great novel full of action and danger and two main characters that grow and change as a result of what they go through. While it is YA, the tone is definitely bleaker than most. If you are looking for something different and something to really dig into that will keep your mind working long after the last page, I definitely recommend this book.