Amelia, the pragmatic idealist's Reviews > The Knife of Never Letting Go

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
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Pure and simple, The Knife of Never Letting Go is EVERYTHING The Hunger Games could have been. It had a dystopian/post-apocalyptic world that was original, exciting, but not ridiculous. This is a world that ACTUALLY is terrifying in a way that HG really isn't. And it has a main character you can actually care about, relate to, feel for, and root for. A character who isn't an emotionally-challenged doormat. And no love triangle. Pure and simple, this is *the* dystopian book to read and love.
The first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy is, in my mind, way more than just a dystopian. Most dystopians I've read have some kind of "centralized power" feel to them: they're set in crowded, urban areas that are highly technological. In contrast, the Chaos Walking world more closely resembles a post-apocalyptic world: you've got settlers on only trying to make a go of life on a new land, but on a new planet. But this is no idyllic "city on a hill" society - Todd's world is (like the series title implies) chaotic, oppressive, violent, and downright terrifying.
This first book alone has me convinced that the author, Patrick Ness, is a genius. The way he tells his story is 100% effective, engrossing, and just a little provocative as well. The violence, the terror, the's all seen through the eyes of a soon-to-be 13**-year-old boy named Todd Hewitt (**Todd lives in a world when time is measured on a 13-month calendar, so he's actually - by our standards - 14 years old).
The narrative is written in common, very informal vernacular not unlike the tone of Huckleberry Finn. It's been awhile since I've read such an informal narrative tone, and Todd's voice is full of run-on sentences and (also genius) misspelled words, so it took me about 50 pages to really hear his voice in my head, but once I heard his voice, it stayed with me. It was powerful. It was authentic. It was innocent, and that me to my next Patrick-Ness-is-a-genius point:
This book - this storyworld - is incredibly scary. It's very, very violent and full of very, very wicked and destructive men, and we see it all through the eyes of a young boy, who symbolizes innocence and the inherent goodness in humanity. Brilliant. Todd and an unlikely friend are on the run from the men of Prentisstown, who seek to enlist Todd (the last boy in their society and, also, the last symbol of innocence) in their perfect army. Books in which the characters are being chased always seem to add an extra edge of excitement and suspense to the action of the story, and this was definitely no exception. However, the book was pretty long, and it got to the point where I was almost expecting folks to jump out, go "BOO!" and smack the crap out of the poor main character.
And that's the next point: as exhilarating as this book is, it's also exhausting. The danger that Todd and Viola face borders on extreme, and the violence is definitely not going to be in everybody's comfort zone. Personally, there wasn't anything in here that I thought was gratuitous or unnecessary - New World is a dangerous and kind of wild place, like a really dystopian version of the Wild West, where fear and intimidation are the laws of the land. It's a hard book to read, because it's so bleak, and the fact that you have very evil, disturbed people chasing very good, innocent kids is heartbreaking. But here's where Patrick Ness is a good author: there is genuine heart in the voice of our narrator, and a belief in hope that is beautiful and powerful. Plus, this book is so substantial. Not only does it ask some good questions, it even proposes some answers (personally, I'm not too impressed with authors who just ask questions in their books).
And even though I'm halfway done with The Ask and the Answer, I *still* think that Todd Hewitt is one of my top favorite characters of all time. I I just love this guy.
In my opinion, The Knife of Never Letting Go is destined to be a classic in Young Adult fiction. This book (and series) is so profound, it way stay with you. And as much as I like books and stuff, very rarely does one actually have this much of an impact on me. It was not a happy read, but it was a substantial one. Oh, and I cried. I actually CRIED. Just to compare, there were a *few* times in The Hunger Games when I teared up, but I never CRIED.
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Quotes Amelia, the pragmatic idealist Liked

Patrick Ness
“Here's what I think," I say and my voice is stronger and thoughts are coming, thoughts that trickle into my noise like whispers of truth. "I think maybe everybody falls," I say. "I think maybe we all do. And I don't think that's the asking."
I pull on her arms gently to make sure she's listening.
"I think the asking is whether we get back up again.”
Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go

Patrick Ness
“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."
"Shutup, Manchee."
"Poo. Poo, Todd."
"I said shut it.”
Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go

Reading Progress

May 17, 2010 – Shelved
December 27, 2010 – Started Reading
December 28, 2010 –
page 1
0.21% "ohhh boy, this narrative style's gonna take some gettin' used to! Common vernacular and run-on sentences, oh my!"
December 28, 2010 –
page 76
15.87% "so far I'm really impressed!"
December 29, 2010 –
page 154
32.15% "ahhh, Viola. Isn't dialogue a wonderful thing?"
December 30, 2010 –
page 260
54.28% "Ugghh. I know most people who've read this book just love Todd and think it's so good and sweet that he can't kill anyone. But gah--after this many crazy, sadistic people, what the #$#%*! is your problem, Todd? You're such a wuss!"
December 30, 2010 –
page 288
60.13% "Poor Todd, can't catch a break! You can't kill the evil sadistic people (Davy, Aaron, Matthew) but you *can* kill a -------. You got it backwards! (oops, that's a spoiler. Oh well)"
December 31, 2010 – Shelved as: dystopian
December 31, 2010 – Shelved as: ya-kids-teen
December 31, 2010 – Finished Reading
January 11, 2011 – Shelved as: 2010
September 8, 2011 – Shelved as: loveable-love-story
January 14, 2012 – Shelved as: best-characters-ever
June 9, 2012 – Shelved as: point-of-view-guy

Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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Michele Oh my gosh, I don't know if I could forgive a cousin for doing that! I love this series and CAN NOT wait for book #3 to be published!!!

Amelia, the pragmatic idealist she liked the ending, but I didn't really...but I figured I should read #1 haha

★ Jess This is an amazing book.

★ Jess Its not that long?
But i have a different edition.
Anyway, its a marvelous series.
I think number 2 was the best-though they are all good

Afton Nelson can't wait to read this book!

Amelia, the pragmatic idealist hey! my edition looks really long - it's only like 300-something pages, but it's a really BIG book :D

★ Jess Ah, hardcover?
Mine was 400 and something pages.

Penny So are you done reading it? If so, what do you think about it? I like the first book in the Chaos Walking series, but book 2 and 3 were a massive disappointment for me. Like there was really good stuff in both books, but the MCs made me not want to finish the series. That's how much I disliked them. And it's not something that happened suddenly, my dislike of the characters. It happened gradually.

Anyway, I'd like to hear what you've got to say about this book, and the next two, whenever you get to them.

★ Jess Really? Im the opposite. I think the trilogy got better as it went along...

Amelia, the pragmatic idealist Technically I only read one page last night (I know, I stink) because I was working on my storyboard.

★ Jess Im so glad you loved it! Great review, as usual :)

Amelia, the pragmatic idealist YOU WERE SO RIGHT, JESSICA!
I knew you thought highly of this series, and as usual, your impeccable taste was right!
I'm halfway done with ASK&ANSWER

Miss Clark Wow! You definitely made me want to read this!

message 14: by Yae (new) - rated it 5 stars

Yae Jin I SO agree!

message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree with everything in your review, Amelia. (Especially the exhausting part--I read most of it today and I feel like passing out!) I love that Katniss is an emotionally-challenged doormat. XD I just... ah. You're spot-on with this.

Amelia, the pragmatic idealist LOL!
Welcome, newest member of the Exhausted Chaotic CHAOS WALKING fanatics!
And you'll like The Ask and the Answer. Technically KNIFE is still my favorite so far (haven't read MONSTERS OF MEN yet), but the series stays consistently strong :D
So glad you enjoyed it!!

★ Jess In my opinion MoM is the best but youre spot on, the trilogy is consistently excellent (Something Hunger Games, Mortal Instruments & Uglies weren't).

Amelia, the pragmatic idealist I think it's just because they're both kinda violent (but CW series way more) and they're both kinda like coming-of-age... but you're right.

*Angsty* Katy This is the best review of KONLG that I have read and you are so spot on with every point, thank you! This series in my opinion has little to no contest in the race for my favorite. Any book that emotionally exhausts me by the end and has me in tears by the end is a win in my book. Which your review stirred up for me, it must be time to re-read!

Shelley (Bella) Fantastic review. I'm sold. Book added.

Ms. Lau You nailed it. Hunger Games is a Saturday movie. This is literature - raw emotional and challenges your moral compass.

message 22: by Leena (new)

Leena 'emotionally challenged doormat'.. I love it

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