The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
This is the story of a boy and his dog who can read each others’ minds. Actually, all the men on the planet in The Knife broadcast their unfiltered thoughts. It’s called “noise” because that’s what it would feel like, and as you might expect, most the people on this planet are completely insane. The boy, Todd, has to flee his loony village because they’re going to do something terrible to him when he turns 13 and then a chase ensues: a really, really long chase. Really, it’s pretty much the whole book.
I feel very divided about this novel. I loved aspects of it, and other elements made me want to chuck it across the room (especially the ending ). Here are my thoughts in a short list:
Writing and characters: the story is told in Todd’s voice, which was totally funny and authentic sounding. It drew me in right away.
The world: this is basically a sci-fi/pioneer story. The planet is colonized by religious people seeking a new place to live the simple life, only they wind up on a world with a weird disease that allows them to hear each other’s thoughts. An original if a bit crazy problem.
The dog! He’s the best character by far. He says exactly what you think I dog would say. Read the opening of the book, and you’ll see what I mean.
The never-ending chase: I’m all for a good quest story; Bladerunner is one long fabulous chase. So in a way is The Lord of the Rings. But this story never gives you much pause. It’s exhausting.
Unbelievable bad guys : Their motivations just seem to be their insanity, but I think at least in novels even insanity has its own crazy logic. I didn’t get why they need to get this particular boy so bad.
And they keep popping up again and again: The same ones. The gotcha moments began to feel repetitive: Him again? Didn’t we just get rid of him two chapters ago?
Unsatisfying ending: [slight spoiler alert] This is by far the biggest crime of the book in my opinion. Obviously, this is a series, but I firmly believe that each book in a series should be able to stand on its own. And this one almost does that– and then, a huge cliffhanger at the end, so you’ll pick up the next book. I’m telling you because I’d have liked to know. I wouldn’t have picked it up in the first place. But maybe I would have anyway because those opening paragraphs are so good, and did I mention I really liked the dog?
Apart from the cliffhanger and the exhaustive nature of the book (you’re right, it leaves the reader reeling), I really enjoyed this book on my first read. I should probably go back and reread it to get a better feel for it because the first read was just me flying through the pages trying to keep up with the story.
I agree–it was really well written. The plot was just frustrating for me though.
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