Book Reviews

The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

I was born into all that, all that mess, the over-crowded swamp and the over-crowded sematary and the not-crowded-enough town, so I don’t remember nothing, don’t remember a world without Noise. My pa died of sickness before i was born and then my ma died, of course, no surprises there. Ben and Cillian took me in, raised me. Ben says my ma was the last of the women but everyone says that about everyone’s ma. Ben may not be lying, he believes it’s true but who knows?

I am the youngest of the whole town, tho. I used to come out and throw rocks at field crows with Reg Oliver (seven months and eight days older) and Liam Smith (four months and 29 days older) and Seb Mundy who was next to youngest to me, three months and a day older, but even he don’t talk to me no more now that he’s a man. 

No boys do once they turn thirteen. (page 9)

This book is an emotional rollercoaster. I’ll put that out there as a disclaimer. I picked it up after seeing it mentioned in book tuber videos and on Tumblr, not thinking too highly for it. However I am now 100% sure that Patrick Ness has just become one of my new favourite authors. 

The novel is based around the character of Todd Hewitt who has grown up in a place called Prentisstown, in the New World. Essentially a group of settlers moved to the new world as part of some religious movement as far as my brain can comprehend although really the only link to religion is Aaron, the incredibly creepy and terrifying to picture, preacher. In the new world there is something called the Noise which means that you can hear everyone’s thoughts, be that the thoughts of the men in the town, to those of sheep who pretty much only say “Sheep”. However Todd’s world ends up turned up on it’s head when he finds a small patch of silence in the swamp near his home. He finds a girl. This doesn’t sound weird… but there are no other women in Prentisstown. 

This novel confused me to begin with. Ness’ choice of spellings really made me focus on what I was reading. It also makes perfect sense. In a first person novel where the narrator is uneducated, the spellings should be inconsistent and incorrect. It didn’t quite click to begin with but throughout I found myself adjusting to this new way of reading and I found it really refreshing. It also links in with the unravelling that happens throughout this novel. There’s a lot of information that everyone else knows which we don’t learn until the very end and it means that we don’t learn what’s happened until Todd does. This makes Todd a really unreliable narrator which becomes really interesting to read. 

Most of the Noise is written in this beautiful script and really breaks up everything you’re reading

When picking this book up, I thought that the knife would be metaphorical. It’s not but it is. It is so not a metaphor as it’s a physical object which becomes increasingly more important. But it acts as a metaphor in as much as we can relate to Todd not wanting to let go of what he knows to be true from his past, in many aspects making this a novel about Todd growing up. This is hinted at through Todd’s complete devotion to the 13 month calendar and his counting down the days until he is a man, at least once in every chapter. 

As far as the emotional rollercoaster goes it’s very tense. A lot of the time you spend hoping nothing bad will happen to the protagonists as you learn more and more things come out that you can piece together and you learn from the past experiences as the book progresses. There is no letting up. It’s a long old book but it passes quickly. Every event is so fluid and time feels rather irrelevant towards the end. Everything else in the world feels irrelevant by the end of the novel. 

Overall I am incredibly distraught I put myself on a book buying ban. The cliffhanger is hideous and I just want to know what happens next. I intend to plough through all I can in an attempt to get the next two books from the trilogy read before I go to university at the end of September. 

Total pages – 479

Total read time – Untimed (last 210 pages in around 2 hours)

Rating /10 – 8.5

Recommend – Yes (beware if you’re a lover of dogs)

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