THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO by Patrick Ness [Review]

After finishing The Hunger Games trilogy I was looking for more dystopian YA, and one book I kept hearing great things about was The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. The first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, it’s about 12-year-old Todd Hewitt who lives in Prentisstown, New World. The planet of New World is where religious settlers traveled to in order to escape the violence of the Old World, and the inhabitants must farm and live off the land to survive. There are two really strange things about Prentisstown—first, there are no women and second, the men can hear each other’s thoughts. The result is a constant stream of noise that would drive anyone crazy. As Todd approaches his thirteenth birthday, he and his dog Manchee stumble across a quiet area in the swamp with no noise. This starts a chain of events that lead to Todd discovering the terrible truth about Prentisstown.

I have mixed feelings about The Knife of Never Letting Go. On the positive side, it has one of the most interesting premises I’ve come across lately. The way the noise was visually represented in the book was especially cool. It’s a fast-paced and exciting read. The setting is interesting too—it’s a mix of frontier style living and sci-fi elements like aliens, spaceships, and talking dogs and squirrels.

I thought The Hunger Games had a violent, disturbing premise, but The Knife of Never Letting Go is even more brutal. The world Todd lives in is bleak, violent, and depressing. I had figured out the horrible secret about Prentisstown by the time it was eventually revealed, but that didn’t make it any easier to accept. It’s one of those books that makes you feel exhausted after reading. And then to top it off, it ends on such a cliffhanger that I felt no closure after reading almost 500 pages. Grrr.

The Knife of Never Letting Go isn’t a bad book, I just don’t think it was for me. I may eventually read the next books in the trilogy (The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men), but I just don’t have the energy right now. I’d recommend it to teens and adults who like dystopian science fiction (especially those who don’t mind violence and poo jokes).

Quotes from The Knife of Never Letting Go:

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

The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.

“War is a monster,” he says, almost to himself. “War is the devil. It starts and it consumes and it grows and grows and grows.” He’s looking at me now. “And otherwise normal men become monsters, too.”

“But a knife ain’t just a thing, is it? It’s a choice, it’s something you do. A knife says yes or no, cut or not, die or don’t. A knife takes a decision out of your hand and puts it in the world and it never goes back again. “

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Candlewick | Pages: 496 | Source: Purchased | Buy on Amazon

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