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Monday, June 13, 2011

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Does a book ever come to you in whispers? As in, you've heard the name over and over again on forums, in book discussions, etc., yet you've never read (or even glimpsed) a review of it? You don't know what it's about, but something about the book keeps whispering to you, "pick me up, pick me up". This was The Knife of Never letting Go for me. I know where I first heard of it - on a forum discussing The Hunger Games, yet I knew nothing about it when I requested it from the library. I had no idea what I was getting into when I read the first paragraph. I must say, I kind of like how that turned out, and so I give to you now the first few lines of The Knife of Never Letting Go without any forehand plot knowledge:

The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say. About anything. 

"Need a poo, Todd."

"Shut up, Manchee."

"Poo. Poo, Todd."

"I said, shut it."

Haha. Is that not awesome? I don't think I could ever do a dog's voice so well (yes, Manchee is one of my favorite characters, poo and all).  If you want to experience the rest of the book without any clue what it's about like I did, then stop reading right now. I enjoyed figuring it all out on my own, and while some books aren't very good for doing that, this one is.  It gets going at a very fast pace, and the mystery will keep you GLUED to those pages. I encourage you to try reading it that way.

BUT I get that some people need to know what a book is about before they'll invest time in it, so for those readers, here's a Goodreads blurb (and my review that follows):

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?

Intrigued? I thought so. Here's a little more info:

1. It's a sci-fi. I was not expecting that, and I think that's part of the brilliance of it. We're introduced to a backwards talking, illiterate MC and his country-hick dog. He tends sheep, yet, the book is set on a different planet with aliens and futuristic inventions. It reminded me of all those outposts that are seen in the old Star Trek TV show, and I loved that aspect of it.

2. It almost reads like a MG. The MC is about 13-14 years old, and there isn't a whole lot of sugary romance in it even though there is a girl. It's very much like an adventure story with one exciting thing happening immediately after another. But, there's a little bit of swearing (or implications of swearing, F'ing) and some references to unseemly sexual acts and definitely a lot of violence. I do want my son to read it at some point because I think it'd be right up his alley, but I think he'll have to wait another year or two yet.

3. The main character is rich and complex. Todd makes mistakes (lots of them), and even though I found myself frustrated with him many times, I was still rooting for him through the whole thing. I loved his dimensionality. Some of the supporting characters on the other hand are a little predictable or cliche. There's the uncle/proxy dad who loves Todd and would do anything to protect him,and there are many stupid townspeople whose ignorance is irritable at best. Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately for them) these characters don't stick around for long, and we're left with Todd and Violet and Todd's dog Manchee. "Poo, Todd." "Squirrel, Todd, squirrel." "Todd?" Dang, I loved that dog.

4. The world building is sheer brilliance. Thinking back on it, I really don't see a single plot hole anywhere. Even though the characters were a bit mad, there was logic and reason to how their madness unfolded, if that makes any sense. I could see why the events happened as they did, and I didn't have to stretch my imagination about anything where the world building was concerned.

5. As I mentioned before, the pacing was fast and exciting. For a 500 page book, I was expecting it would take several days for me to get through. In truth, I was done in about a day (9 hours total). I will say that I was a bit tired of characters who just wouldn't die already. Like how many times are we going to encounter this particular evil person and leave him lying in the dust with his eyeballs on the ground only for him to come back again 50 pages later (eyeballs intact)? That got a little frustrating, but just a little because in between those parts I was trying to figure out what the MC didn't know but everyone else seemed to. Ness was very good at not giving away all the answers at once, and I think that reading it without any forehand knowledge made it all the more interesting in that respect. Notice that I haven't really given away anything here, so you can still read it and experience some of that the way I did. :)

So, there you have it. Obviously, I really enjoyed the book, and I'll be moving on to the next two in the series. But I'll leave you with a question - are there any books you read that you had no clue what they were about when you picked them up? And would you recommend them to be read that way? Leave your recommendations, please!


mummazappa said...

I adore this series, and Manchee! Favourite dog ever :-) Todd's development over the rest of the series is amazing. Your review has made me want to read it all again :-)

Nomes said...

i love how you talk about this book coming to you in whispers. ahh, angie! love your way with words.

i am scared to read this one for some reason O.o i have been holding out on it and hoping my library will hurry up and get it in already!

Karla Nellenbach said...

I read this trilogy around xmas time (when i really dont have time for one 500page book, let alone three), and i have to admit that i agree with you on how intriguing the storyline is. I however did have a problem with the way the book was written. my internal editor was screaming in agony over the misspellings and grammatical errors, which i KNOW is supposed to be like that because it highlights just how illiterate Todd is, but boy, did it kill me...for about 45 pages. Then, i was so invested in the plot, that all that faded away and i finished the book in one sitting. same for the ASK AND THE ANSWER and MONSTERS OF MEN. all three are great books!

Bee said...

I have been wanting to read this for a long time but my library only seems to have the second book of the trilogy, The Ask And The Answer. So I'm kinda waiting for this to come back from wherever it is!

Deirdra Eden-Coppel said...

You have a fabulous blog! I want to award you the Best Books Blog Award for all the hard work you do!

I invite you to follow me since we have a lot in common, but no pressure. I’m not giving you the award just so you will follow me. You really do deserve it!
Take care:-)

Go to and pick up your award.

Angie said...

Thanks Deirdra! Checked out your blog and I love your illustrations! Couldn't find a place to comment though, so I hope you come back and see this. Take care. :)



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