Thursday, October 23, 2008

Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Todd lives in Prentisstown, a dystopian nightmare where all women are dead and everyone can hear each other’s thoughts (known as noise). As the only “boy”, the youngest in the restless and violent town, Todd’s only real companion is his (talking) dog, Manchee. When he discovers a girl in the swamp one day, his caretakers tell him he’s in danger and he has to make a run for it.

And thus begins book one of the Chaos Walking trilogy. It’s best to go into the book knowing only as much as Todd knows (which is surprisingly little considering no one’s thoughts are private), so I won’t go into spoilers here. Suffice to say that leaving Prentisstown considerably expands Todd’s worldview and understanding. Todd is an intriguing character, a real innocent, with a voice that matches his lack of education.

The ideas here are very creative, especially in regards to the noise. It’s interesting to see what animals have to say (not much of interest actually) and how differently the various settlements Todd encounters on his journey have dealt with the problem of broadcasting their every thought.

I cruised through this thinking the whole time that it’s an A-/B+ book – until I hit the ending. The narrative is dark, but the ending is even darker and though it works on an intellectual level, it’s an emotional sucker punch – a cliffhanger that makes you think the book must be missing some pages.

21 comments:

Lenore said...

P.S. This was the 100th book I read this year! That's quite a milestone :)

Alea said...

Wow! Good for you! :D

Lenore said...

Thanks Alea! If I'm lucky, I can get another 20/25 in by year's end. Let's see...

Anonymous said...

LENOIRRRR

LET US DANCE INTO THE OMNIPRESENT NIGHT OF LONGING AND GROPING AND HONEY LIPS.

HONEY
LIPS

ur FAITHFUL stalker,
Lecherous in my Vaqueros

Lenore said...

Hi Stalker,

Can we stay on topic please?

Thanks :)

Alea said...

I bet you will! Still lots of time :D

I actually have no idea how many books I've read! Not sure if I should count graphic novels... some seem long enough to count and others aren't. I think for the most I've been counting anything that's in a book form as compared to hand made books/comics.

Lenore said...

That's what I do - I counted The Plain Janes :)

Liviania said...

Sounds like an interesting book, although I'd wait 'til the next one is out since it's a cliffhanger.

What graphic novels do you read?

Lenore said...

Liviania - Besides The Plain Janes, I mostly read them in foreign languages: Die Welle, Lewis Trondheim's books, Maus, Ariol... But I have a couple more from Minx on my wishlist. Too bad they are shutting down.

Alea said...

I agree! That's really horrible they are shutting down :(

Anna said...

This sounds like an interesting book. Not something I'd normally read, but your review has made me curious.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Lenore said...

Anna - If you like dystopia at all, you'll like it. It is definitely interesting.

Anna said...

I've read a few dystopian novels and liked them. I like dark books. What does that say about me?? LOL

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Lenore said...

Well, I read a lot of dystopia. It hooks me every time. I just find it so fascinating. So what does that say about me? :)

Anna said...

:) What's your favorite? Mine is The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Lenore said...

Oh gosh - I love the Handmaid's Tale too. Here's a list of ones I really liked:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Giver by Lois Lowry
1984 by George Orwell
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (though is one is not dark)
Beauty by Sherri Tepper
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (only part of it is dystopic)
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Feed by MT Anderson
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Into the Forest by Jean Hegland

And I am looking forward to The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman.

I guess I need to write a whole post about this sometime - ha!

Anna said...

Thanks for that list!! I've read The Road, too. I'm going to check out some of these books. Not that I need my to-read list to be any longer, but...

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Lenore said...

You're welcome! They are all really great books and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Book Zombie (Joanne) said...

Wow congrats on hitting 100!!

I've had this on hold at the library for awhile, it sounds great by your review.
When I first heard of it, I wondered if there would be much resemblance to The Chrysalids.

Lenore said...

Thanks Joanne. I haven't read The Chrysalids, but from the description on amazon, I don't think it is too similar. I might have to give that a read though - thanks for the tip!

Pandora Moon said...

I haven't read this book but the plot sort of reminds me of the Masters of Horrors episode The Screwfly Solution which is about a virus that makes men want to kill women.

I'm enjoying reading your reviews of dystopian novels as I'm a fan of them.