Friday, May 2, 2014

Weekly Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go

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The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Released: May 5, 2008
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction


"Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown.

But Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in a constant, overwhelming, never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets.

Or are there?

Just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd unexpectedly stumbles upon a spot of complete silence.

Which is impossible.

Prentisstown has been lying to him.

And now he's going to have to run..."

[from Patrick Ness's official website.]


This is another book that came highly recommended by random strangers on the internet, and so far, their recommendations are 2 for 2. Thank you, dear random strangers, for your surprisingly good taste.

Even so, I wasn't sure I'd like The Knife of Never Letting Go. I could see from my random strangers' summaries that the novel made use of a trope that I particularly dislike, which can be summed up as "X is the last of his/her sex in a world dominated by the other." This trope strikes me as exploitable in all the wrong ways, and, as a result, I tend to steer away from it. Thankfully, Ness's handling of the trope is both respectful and surprising. The novel's plot defied my expectations on almost every level. What I'd mistaken as predictable turned out to be misdirection, and I fell for it without a second thought.

The effect Noise has on men's lives and their interactions with other people is one of the more fascinating elements of the book. The novel is narrated in first person from Todd's perspective, and his thoughts mixed with the Noise he projects makes for an interesting study. It's interesting to see the normal way of thinking--to yourself, without blaring your thoughts out for all to hear--through the perspective of someone who has never known normalcy.

The latter half of the novel moves along at a breakneck pace. Todd and Viola are given barely a second's rest between the middle of the novel and its conclusion, and the pace is as straining on the reader as it is on them. By the end, the sheer amount of near-misses and close calls had me exhausted, and after so many, it was hard to be surprised when new ones cropped up. As for other negatives, well, there was one scene in the not-quite-middle of the novel involving a giant bird and Manchee, Todd's talking dog, that seemed a little too familiar (see: Pixar's Up), but it's a small bother in the long run.

Those who like their novels fast-paced and thrilling, with a dash of forced introspection, should enjoy The Knife of Never Letting Go.

You should also read:

The Maze Runner

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