The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This isn't what I expected and that's a-okay fine, because The Knife of Never Letting Go is a razor-sharp story! (sorry, that was terrible)
I guess I was thinking this would be more cerebral, but it turned out to be a fast-paced, action-filled read that reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games in that it follows a kid in survival mode in a dystopian world.
Here's the story in a nutshell: A boy on the verge of becoming a man via his village's secretive initiation rites, flees the isolated community with an angry mob at his heels, trying to find out what the heck is going on along the way.
Though this was a straight up adventure story heavy on Campbell's archetypal mythology, it did have it's thoughtful moments and ideas to ponder. For instance, men have the ability to hear in their heads what other men are thinking, thus they are tormented by what they call "Noise," the mass of thoughts continuously bombarding them. Women don't give off noise, but can hear the noise of men. I don't know if this was intended, but I thought that was a nice parallel to real life, where generally speaking men's thoughts are not hard to deduce and women are a mystery to men, again, generally speaking.
The narration is first person, so we are constantly in the mind of Todd Hewitt, a young, uneducated, angry, and often frustrated youth. Sticking with a stupid hick for 400+ pages can be trying on the nerves. But Ness' world creation is a good distraction, his plot is intriguing enough and he added in some levity in the form of a pet dog for Todd, so I managed to hang in there. As with most dystopian novels I've read, scenery description is sparse. Ness' desire to keep the ball rolling and only slow it down for a bit of exposition now and then, means that he didn't spend much time with the setting. That's fine, and even preferable for action's sake, but it can leave one feeling empty and colorblind for want of scenery.
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