Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Plot Summary: Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

This story reminded me of the TV series Firefly. Not the storyline, just the mix of futuristic and old-fashioned cultures. It makes for such an interesting dynamic that I could not put this book down. Todd is an amazingly real character with a strong voice, and I love that we got to see right down into the corners of his mind. Especially when it came to his interactions with his dog. Hilarious!

The pacing is phenomenal, and once I passed the halfway mark I could not tear myself away. I finished the rest in one sitting. Todd’s journey, both physical and emotional, is riveting. The fact that we learn about his world along with him makes it that much more enticing. There were a few times when Todd learned information that he didn’t share with us, which I found irritating (because it felt like a contrived way to increase suspense). But I was so into the story that I overlooked it.

I sometimes had trouble with the way certain words were spelled. Instead of spelling them correctly, they were spelled the way they sounded. For example, words ending in –tion were spelled with –shun instead. That tripped me up a few times, and annoyed me when I was really into the story and didn’t want to have to stop and decipher an everyday word. But it was just a minor annoyance.

There was only one thing that I really did not like, and that was the last page. I can appreciate that this is a trilogy, and the overall story isn’t finished. I can also appreciate that, technically, the story arc in this first book was fulfilled. However, the ending still felt abrupt. Actually, it ended in the middle of a scene. That reminded me of a bad TV series that mercilessly tortured you with cliffhanger endings. But, with TV, you only have to wait a week to find out what happens next. With a book, we have to wait a year! To me, this felt over the top, like the author didn’t trust that the reader was hooked enough to pick up the next book. Um, I AM. But the massive cliffhanger really put me off.

The second book in the series came out in September, and I’m guessing the third will come out sometime this fall. If you can live with torturous cliffhangers, then I highly recommend this book. If not, then wait for the final book to come out before you pick this one up. :)

11 comments:

Anna said...

I just loved this book. You're absolutely right about the pacing! The ending also drove me a little nuts, but I was willing to forgive it since it was such an interesting read. I rushed out and bought the sequel as soon as it came out - it's even darker than the first book (hard to imagine, isn't it?) and it also ends on a cliffhanger which was a little frustrating. But I still love this series!

Marcia said...

I've heard so much about this book, and I'll probably pick it up although I tend to resist first books in a trilogy. I think the desire to make thousands of people hang on a cliffhanger got started way back with "Who shot JR?" (On Dallas, early '80s.)Of course, HP did it too, and HG is doing it, and now it's become ultra-desirable. Funny about the spellings. I'm working on a somewhat futuristic WIP, and I've decided certain language/spelling rules have changed, but they can only appear in the writing of that day--messages between characters and so forth. I think in the narration, even if it were first person (mine's third)you need to keep with the accepted rules NOW for ease of reading.

PJ Hoover said...

I'm not going to read your review as this is on my still being seriously considered list.

Tabitha said...

Anna - I'm actually not surprised that the second book is darker. Ness was setting it up that way pretty well. :) I reserved the next book from the library, which I'm picking up today. So we'll see how it goes! :)

Marcia - I remember the buzz that the 'who shot JR' cliffhanger caused. It was *everywhere*. And you're so right that it's becoming more common in book series. I find it a bit annoying, so I hope it doesn't catch on for too much longer. :)

PJ - it's a great action book, though a bit dark. Definitely worth a try!

Serenissima said...

I'm adding this to my list! But maybe I'll wait until the third book comes out so I can read them all together. I just finished "Catching Fire" and can't stand that I have to wait for the rest of the story.

Bish Denham said...

Oh okay, I guess I need to add this to my list as hubby and I are just now watching Firefly and thoroughly enjoying it!

AnneB said...

I think this was one of the first contemporary "boy" books I read, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! Glad to hear the sequel's out now.

Sliding on the Edge said...

I loved his first book--all except for the part about the . . . oops, no spoilers. Readers will jump into this world and not want to leave. Looking forward to the sequel.

Thanks, Tabitha.

Jeff Hirsch said...

I had an odd experience with this book. For the first 3/4 of it I thought it was one of the best books I had ever read. Blown away. But then something about the ending, maybe it was the abruptness of it, soured that a bit. Also, when I had finished it and was out of the breakneck rush of the pace I could see some problems with it. But man, is this guy an amazing writer. Looking forward to book 2 despite some misgivings on 1.

Margaret West said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I'll have to take a squizz at this one.

beth said...

/shields eyes

I read the first chapter or so, got bored, and put this one down. I'm going to go back to it now!