The Knife of Never Letting Go Review

The first of three books in the Chaos Walking series “The Knife of Never Letting Go” by Patrick Ness, shows us a world where thoughts are open for all to see. Due to a strange disease all of the women are dead while the men and animals have their thoughts open for everyone to see called Noise. This strange setting is where the book starts off before the main character Todd Hewitt and his dog Manchee live and where they find an area in town without Noise. From their secrets are slowly revealed and we begin to learn what is really going on and he is forced to leave to learn more about the outside world.

Patrick Ness is well known for his well planned suspense and clever humor. His other books such as “The Crane Wife” and “The Crash of Hennington” show that he excels in making interesting characters and clever narratives. Along with the Chaos Walking series he has also written two other young adult novels “A Monster Calls” and “More Than This” both containing several similarities to “The Knife of Never Letting Go” with their dark atmosphere and strange settings.

The Noise is an excellent idea and a world with it’s existence proves to be interesting and thought provoking. In the text it is typically shown as scratchy fonts occasionally intersecting with each other. At some point it feels rough and not completely used to the fullest but at other point it is used perfectly in describing the chaotic world in which the characters live in. The noise does a great job of not only showing the lack of privacy but also makes each escape more difficult when the men after you can hear your thoughts.

Another device used to great effect is the knife of the title which is typically used to show the fine line between survival and murder. Which fits in very well given that death is taken more seriously and more accurate here than most other young adult novels. Todd constantly struggles with whether or not he can kill someone which is used to great effect throughout the book to make Todd a very conflicted and sympathetic character.

The main character Todd is a well written character who is naive but sympathetic and whose many questions make him an excellent viewpoint for this chaotic world. His dog Manchee proves to be an interesting side character with his loyal, confused, and innocent behavior painting a true and sad picture of animals with voices. Another character who is difficult to describe without spoilers, helps bring a new viewpoint which questions much of the worlds ideals. While one of the main antagonists Aaron a deranged priest constantly works as a determined threat following the characters with a strange set of ideals. Several side characters such as the Mayor are shown to be cleverly written but lack adequate time to be interesting.

The book proves to be quite good but the beginning is slow and tedious. It’s understandable though that the introduction to the world might seem drawn out with the amount of information that is given and it does prove to be interesting at a few points. However the book's greatest strength is the amount of surprises the book manages to keep hidden. After 64 pages an important character is revealed and the story begins to get very good. The numerous plot twist throughout the story ensure that the story is kept interesting and clever right to the end where it ends with a satisfying cliffhanger.

This book is perfect for people who enjoy science-fiction and elaborate stories. The character’s are unique to most of the genre and the book explores ideas that are rarely seen in other sci-fi works. This gives a feeling of discovery as you read more, learning about this strange world that borrows several ideas from other sci-fi stories but constantly feels fresh throughout the series. The first book leads nicely into the next two and I would greatly recommend them both as they both function quite well on their own merits and never feel like more of the same sci-fiction stories.

The book is an excellent read that shows a well created setting along with cleverly written characters. The story is well written and was able to hold my attention despite a rough start. The numerous surprises and plot twists slowly tear down the original thoughts the reader has amassed about the world to show the unthinkable truth. The finale is spectacular and leads to a well planned climax and shocking ending that heightens the desire to pick up the sequel.

The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness, Candlewick Press, 2008, 479 pages, Science-fiction.

Comments (1)

Jada Terrell (Student 2016)
Jada Terrell

Between this review and your recent book talk, this book sounds like a must-read! The idea of having everyone's thoughts revealed is really unique and I like how you incorporated that in the video with all the thoughts popping up on the screen.