The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Author: Patrick Ness. Website, Twitter
Published: 14 October 2008 (Walker Books)
Buy: Amazon (paperback|Kindle), Waterstone's (paperback|e-book), Book Depository (paperback)
Source: Borrowed e-book from library.
Plot Summary: (from The Book Depository)
Imagine you're the only boy in a town of men. And you can hear everything they think. And they can hear everything you think. Imagine you don't fit in with their plans... Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run.
The Knife of Never Letting Go (book 1 in the Chaos Walking series) originally popped up in my Goodreads recommendations. I started to read a few reviews that really raved about it so I bumped it up my to-read list! This book is all about Todd Hewitt, who lives in Prentisstown in New World, a post-apocalyptic society where there are only men and where everyone can hear each other's thoughts (their "Noise"). Todd is the only boy left, approaching his 13th birthday when suddenly he is forced out of Prentisstown.
The first thing you notice when you start reading this book is the way it's written. The book is narrated by Todd, who is unable to read or spell, so a lot of the words are spelt phonetically, as well as reflecting his accent. I really loved that way of writing, though. It makes Todd feel totally real and you can hear his voice as you read. It takes a little getting used to, as any book written in a slightly unconventional way does, but it became one of my favourite things about the book and something that makes it really stand out.
The story centres around Todd's escape from Prentisstown and becomes all about his fight for survival and the journey he takes. Sometimes with books that are so focussed on characters escaping or travelling somewhere there can be a lull in the action whilst they figure out what to do etc. That wasn't the case in The Knife of Never Letting Go. There was constant action and a real sense of doom and danger. The suspense was kept up all the way through and there was so much stuff that happened along the way that I wasn't expecting!
There are some pretty out there ideas surrounding the post-apocalyptic world this story takes place in. When I first read it I was kind of taken aback, because it's nothing like the dystopian stories I've read before! It was so well done though. The ideas could have sounded ridiculous but the way they're put together in this story made it work. The plot is so intricate and as Todd discovers more and more information about the world he's living in I just found myself totally gripped, waiting to learn more.
I liked that there's a strong focus on war. In a similar way to Suzanne Collins in The Hunger Games, Patrick Ness has weaved his own views on war into the story, making you really think about the issues Todd has to face.
It's hard to get across how genius this book is without giving away some key plot points, but it's totally unique and a book I would definitely have down as a must read. There's action, friendship and danger all threaded throughout this novel and it's truly a brilliant piece of literature.
What to read next: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness, book 2 in the Chaos Walking series.
Books like this: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.