The Knife of Never Letting Go is a 2008 dystopian novel, and takes place in a distant planet called New World. In New World, everyone can hear each man’s thoughts (called Noise), so there is a lack of privacy and a severe overflow of information. Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown, an all-man rural community. Everything changes when he is forced to run away, being chased by the vicious town for reasons he can’t even fully understand. Along the way, he teams up with a girl, Viola, and together with his dog they run for their lives…
My Expectations: Weren’t particularly high. I wasn’t sure how I was gonna respond to the different writing style that was hinted at in some reviews. I wasn’t exposed to that much hype though.
Delivery: WOW. That’s the word for it, a roller coaster ride that impressed me a ton.
Put-down-ability: 4/10, a pretty gripping novel, a 2-day read.
I’m going to try and keep this one short. I loved this novel, I loved the characters and the writing; both were phenomenal. Ness managed to flesh out Todd using not only the unique narration but with original prose as well. Probably my favourite part of the novel, the writing, is what made it so unique. The Noise (hearing each other’s thoughts) is an idea I haven’t heard of before, and I’m glad wasn’t overused and beaten into the ground; it was pretty spot on.
The first sentence sucks you right in and sets the tone for the novel:
The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say.I felt the bond that forms between Todd and Viola is such a faithful one that just rings with honesty and hope, a friendship hardened and shaped through tough events. I loved watching their companionship evolve and change as distrust fades, and they come to rely on one another. Todd is an incredible narrator who has been characterized very well, full of internal turmoil, doubt, but love and hope as well.
"Need a poo, Todd."
"Poo. Poo, Todd."
"I said shut it."
The plot had its twists and turns, but it is very much a Chase-plot (is that self explanatory enough?). It was just obstacle after obstacle, and did drag a tiny bit in the middle. This is a fairly long book, for a fairly long chase. That sounds a bit negative, but truly it isn't. There are mistakes made and problems faced along the way, and each adds a little something special to the plot. It ends in a massive cliffhanger, so make sure you have Book Two nearby! You'll be dying to find out what happens.
Lastly, I think the themes presented in the novel, themes like information and privacy, are prevalent in society today. I thought Ness really had guts to push these things so far over the edge with his idea of Noise, and the novel makes me think about how I treat my own privacy nowadays. In fact, I did a school presentation on this novel.
Is this a book for anyone? No, I’m not going to sugar-coat anything: this is a book with violence, cruelty, and brutality. It has moments that make you cringe and scream and cry, and moments that make you doubt humanity. This isn’t an easy read, but the voice of a young boy becoming man, trapped in an unforgiving world, shines through in a pure and raw narration that is sure to stick with you long after you finish the novel.
9.3/10 – This is the highest rating I’ve given a book this year (tied with The Piper's Son), that’s how good it is. I loved the writing style and the characters, but thought that the chase-plot dragged on a bit. There was tons of action, but in it was violence and heinous crimes, and it also contained a mystery that broke my heart. This is the bar I compare dystopian novels to.
An exceptional novel that everybody should try at least once. A 9.3 is a solid A.
If you want, check out his interviews with Publishers Weekly, YA Reads, Presenting Lenore and The Book Depository. All links link directly to the interview (which all have very insightful and thoughtful answers).
*This book is used for my Take Another Chance Challenge, #3- 100 Best Books, this was on the 2009 Best Books for Young Adults list*