Kaitlyn Gee's Reviews > The Knife of Never Letting Go

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
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's review
Dec 24, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: free-library, read-2012
Recommended to Kaitlyn by: Irisjade
Read from April 05 to 14, 2012

This novel is set in a new world that settlers attempted to colonize. The settlers catch a disease where only the men can hear it others' thoughts, and so becomes Noise. Todd Hewitt, the young boy, is a few days away from being a "man" in terms of his hometown, Prentisstown, when he discovers something and must embark on a journey into a world he never knew before, discovering the villages and town he thought never existed and unraveling his own town's history.

At first, I was not a big fan of this book. The grammar, something akin to that of a farmboy or someone in the deep, deep South, and spelling, a combination of someone half-illiterate and teenage slang, both grated against my nerves. However, the novel picks up. Who would've known? The novel picks up. While I'm not a huge fan of the style, I still do think that the plot is interesting and clever. I was not always kept guessing, but I was kept entertained and even paused to think about some of the points Ness made here and there.

The characters
Most of the major characters and many of the minor ones follow stereotypes typical of Young Adult fiction. There's Todd, the innocent boy with too many questions who need to learn how to act on necessity and embarks on a heroic journey. There's Viola, the girl found by Todd who is headstrong, brave, and very capable of standing up for herself and doing what's needed. Todd's father of sorts, Ben, is very loving and kind, while his other father (yeah, it's complicated) Cillian is more gruff and less open about his emotions. Aaron, a man from Prentisstown who becomes the main antagonist, is angry and slightly insane, ranting and taunting Todd in his senseless pursuit of him. Many of these characters are familiar to me, and I did not note any specific relationships that excited me.

The setting
The new planet presents some very interesting views and issues. The humans leave their own world, presumable Earth, in search of a better place, and land on this planet. It contains Noise, the thought of men that the inhabitants cannot help to hear and share, and also Spackle, aliens who have learned to adapt to the Noise. The thing that stands out to me the most is the way the colonies are not perfect. It's what I would expect the very first settlements of America would be like. Nothing is perfect, and it seems as though some towns have not moved beyond subsistence farming, while others have radically different views about the sexes and also handle Noise differently. Really, I love the way that Ness presents all of the different characters and allows for the exploration of different viewpoints.

The plot/storyline
Not enough happens for me. I realize that it is the first book in a trilogy, but I expected a more decisive ending and not the massive cliffhanger I was left with. Moreover, the novel basically follows Todd running from the people who are chasing him. It's really that simple, and I wanted more plot twists and complications. Even the minor little surprises did not actually surprise me.

The writing
Ness takes a gamble here. The writing is very stylized. Again, the spelling and grammar may throw you off at first. Sometimes Ness dips into a more lyrical or less structured writing, and I definitely approve of those bits. They add to the story and are a different way to add tension and tell a story. The language is not incredibly advanced, or more like not very advanced at all. There is not very much imagery, so you will often be left to fill in the little details. But I found this more preferable as Ness focuses more on the characters.

Overall, I am not in love with this book, but I think it is worth reading. It truly is unique in its setting and its style, but very typical in its characters and storyline. You may be interested in how Ness presents everything, and I do not regret picking up this book. That being said, I may or may not read the second or third book (Ness didn't really make me truly care about the main characters) and I will not be reading it again.

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Reading Progress

04/05/2012 page 42
8.0% "The grammar and spelling in this is horrendous. I know that it's intentional, as in style and all, but it grates on my nerves. Hopefully I'll get through it okay. The rest is fine so far, save for the annoying dog."
04/05/2012 page 94
19.0% "Ness does a wonderful job creating the setting. I'm just not sure I'm interested in it. The book itself is picking up, though. It's tolerable at the least and I'm starting to get into it."
04/06/2012 page 223
45.0% "The book definitely picks up. I'm interested in seeing where Ness will take it from here. Also, I'm beginning to see a lot of similarities with The Maze Runner. Thomas is kind of like Todd, Theresa kind of like Viola. And I keep forgetting to mention the annoying second-person perspective here and there . It's nothing major, but it grates on my nerves nonetheless."
04/09/2012 page 268
54.0% "The novel gets better, I swear. It's still very stylized, but it just takes some getting used to."

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