Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness 

By  Turn The Page

‘Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown. But Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in a constant, overwhelming never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets.

Or are there?

Just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd unexpectedly stumbles upon a spot of complete silence.

Which is impossible.

Prentisstown has been lying to him.

And now he’s going to have to run…’ 

Wow. I have literally just put this book down and found I simply had to write a review straight away to try and collect my thoughts. This is one hell of a book. I think Patrick Ness has quite possibly just become my top author. Ever. I don’t even remember the last time a book affected me so much. My heart is still racing.

I’m not sure I can do it justice in my review.

This book is…stunning. Exhilarating. Exciting. Brutal. Poignant. Heartbreaking.

I couldn’t put it down, I so caught up in the story, I would catch myself skim reading ahead just to find out what happened sooner. I think I was in a state of nervous tension the whole time I was reading it. You guys – it was stressful.

There are so many things I want to discuss, but I’ll refrain because I don’t want to give too much away – I didn’t quite know what to expect going in with this, and I think that made the experience of reading it even better. You are thrown straight away into non-stop action for 500 glorious pages, leaving you breathless right alongside the characters. But within this are also some incredibly touching, quiet moments, that only emphasize just how talented a storyteller Ness is.

Todd. My brave Todd. I fell in love with him. Simple as that. He is one of best-developed characters I’ve ever read. At the beginning we meet a back-chatting, angry, fed up, frightened little kid. By the end we know a brave, heroic, strong one. Todd’s loss of innocence, his growing maturity, the strength of his friendship with Viola, was all a part of one of the most powerfully written friendships I think I may have ever read – certainly one of my favourite aspects of the whole experience.

Some people may be put of by the narrative in this book – that is because Ness writes as Todd would speak, using words such as ‘tho’ and ‘yer’ and ‘direkshun’. Don’t let this put you off. Around 30 pages in I was completely hooked by his story, and began to read with ease. ‘Hearing’ how Todd talks, while taking a while to get used too, serves to make Todd feel real and his character jumped from the page as I read.

Ness certainly doesn’t hold back and this story is gruesome and rather graphic in places, (a warning to younger readers) but always in a way that is integral to the story, this book has an important story to tell, and the graphic nature is an essential part of that. He is harsh on his characters too, and there are many heartbreaking decisions and moments throughout that not only heighten the tension while reading, but make you continue to fear for Todd, Viola and Manchee, (the best written dog ever to grace the page) right up to the end of the book and beyond. This one finishes on one hell of a cliffhanger and I’m actually seriously concerned about what Todd is going to have to do in order to survive all that’s coming and what that will mean for him as a character.

Ultimately I think this is a story about hope. About growing up in bleak and desperate society and the difficult choices we are forced to make along the way. About love and loyalty between true friends, the evil that men can do, and strength and courage to stand against it. The Knife of Never Letting Go is a fantastic dystopian tale that surpasses any I have read before. Patrick Ness has weaved together complex ideas of authority, control, oppression, sexism, equality and morality in one thrilling adventure. One I won’t be able to stop thinking about for days afterwards – the sign of a truly powerful piece of fiction.

‘I can read it.
I can read her.
Cuz she’s thinking about how her own parents also came here with hope like my ma. She’s wondering if the hope at the end of our hope is just as false as the one that was at the end of my ma’s. And she’s taking the words of my ma and putting them into the mouths of her own ma and pa and hearing them say that they love her and they miss her and they wish her the world. And she’s taking the song of my pa and she’s weaving it into everything else till it becomes a sad thing all her own.
And it hurts her, but it’s an okay hurt, but it hurts still, but it’s good, but it hurts.
She hurts.
I know all this.
I know it’s true.
Cuz I can read her.
I can read her Noise even tho she ain’t got none.
I know who she is.
I know Viola Eade.’

Recommended Reading Age: 14+

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