The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Release: May 5th 2008
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction, YA
#1 in the Chaos Walking trilogy
Sequels: The Ask and the Answer (#2), Monsters of Men (#3)
Prentisstown isn't like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee -- whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not -- stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden -- a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.
But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?
Well, please don't kill me just yet. I did like this book, did enjoy it, but ... I don't see its 5-star-ness. What is it about this book that made it so special? I have seen nothing but glowing reviews for it, heard nothing but the highest praise about the whole series and so immediately bought all three books, expecting to be blown away. Especially since I've never read Patrick Ness either and I've heard he's a genius. I don't see it, though. I see that it's a good book, yes, but not brilliant or extraordinary in any way.
Writing this review, I have already read the sequel, The Ask and the Answer, so I will say that, yes, it gets better, but ... the ending was really shitty. This could have been a really good duology with a nice, satisfying ending. However, right now, I just feel really annoyed and am thinking more along the lines of "Aw, come on. Seriously?" instead of "Yay, another one!" Because, honestly, why drag this series on for so much longer? Right now, it seems to me that this was just another plot twist Ness took out of his sleeve to have a sucker punch-y plot twist at the end so he'll be able to write another book. I'll read it, sure, but my motivation isn't very high. Of course, it could also turn out to finally be the one book that will blow my mind and make me take back everything I've said. We'll see.
Anyway. About the book. The first one, actually. I feel like it really took a long while to finally get rolling, since there was a lot of useless and senseless dicking around at first, and back then the two protagonists also kind of annoyed me. Viola, with her silent treatment and constant cowering, Todd acting like he's got sacks of grain for brains, I just ... wasn't a fan, to say the least. However, they both got a hold of themselves later on and as they started their trek around the planet, I finally started to enjoy myself a bit more. It was never really gripping or anything, like after a chapter ended, I never had this huge urge to go on reading, so it did take my Internet being down the whole day for me to finally get a grip and finish this.
I usually like simple survival stories, you know. Stories like Under The Never Sky, or These Broken Stars, but what set this apart from those others, in a negative way, was the writing. At first, I was horrified and couldn't believe my own eyes, because while doing it the way Ness did, it is more or less original and whatever, but ... I just don't like it. It makes sense that Todd's narrative isn't grammatically correct since he's illiterate, but honestly. It's making it so hard to read, although I'll admit this wasn't as bad as Blood Red Road was. Also, tell me again why it's always the boy being the "savage, wild" one and the girl's always the one that comes from the pristine, technologically advanced side. Whatever.
The other thing that reined my excitement about this book in was the fact that Todd was such an overly dramatic narrator. This continues on into the second book and Viola's narrative there, so it's still annoying me, and it sucks. Because Todd is always repeating everything and stopping mid-sentence to raise suspense or something, I don't know, but I can't tell you how many repetitions I have skipped and not missed a thing because, hey, it's a repetition. I've already read about that twice, alright, I got it. Jeez.
As characters go, Todd and Viola aren't the worst, obviously, but I still haven't gotten around to forming any bonds with them. I do like Viola and that she's such a fierce, independent woman who's taking no shit from no one, but other than that fondness for her, I don't really care. I liked Davy though, and all the character development he's made, I feel like he is one of the only characters really getting some of that. Sure, Todd and Viola have changed from the people they were back on page 1, but I don't see any huge steps forward. Not in their narratives, not in their actions, not in the words they say. Plus, how Todd is so utterly dependable on Viola is kind of grinding on my nerves to be quite honest.
Well. I'll say that you can most definitely do far worse than this series, and I am enjoying it, but so far, I already know it won't be one of my favorites and I don't think I'll ever re-read these books. And I most definitely don't see where all the hype is coming from... I'm sorry, but I don't.