Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Todd is the youngest boy in a colony of men called Prentisstown.  During the war with the Spackle, all the women died of a disease released by the Spackle, which spurred the Noise that Todd hears in his head.  The Noise is a culmination of all the thoughts and words of the men in Prentisstown including the animals.    It is a never-ending stream of noise that invade your thoughts and consciousness and it is impossible to escape.  The voices of the men of Prentisstown are lonely, depressed and negative and are constantly replaying their stream in the Noise.

 In this world, all animals can talk.  Todd has a dog called Manchee who is constantly talking about squirrels and calling Todd's name.  Todd?

Todd has no memory of what life was like when women were alive.  He believes Prentisstown is the only colony in his world and beyond the swamp there is a vast nothingness.  He is basically illiterate and is about a month shy of turning 13 and becoming a man.

One day while Todd is exploring the swamp, getting a break from the Noise and looking for apples.  He stumbles upon a imposing silence and wonders at the hole in the Noise.  He runs home and tries to hide his thoughts so know one in the town would know about the quiet space, yet as soon as he arrives home the sheriff arrives.  Ben and Cillian, the men who raised him, hand him a map, a backpark with provisions and his mother's book and tell him to leave and never come back.  Todd isn't sure why but he is running for his life with Manchee by his side, when he stumbles upon the hole in the Noise.  The hole turns out to be a girl, a silent girl.  Viola.  Todd and Voila begin a life changing journey together and begin to count on each other in ways they didn't expect.

Patrick Ness is a very creative writer and he has crafted a unique science fiction world in The Knife of Never Letting Go.  The knife is a central character in the book as Todd clings to it for many reasons.  As Todd and Voila journey through New World, each colony they encounter is varied, by landscape, the people and their culture and customs as well as the animals native to the area.  One thing is certain, no one likes the men from Prentisstown.  There are strong themes of war, discrimination, racism, coming of age, abuse, sexism and so much more.

I alternately read The Knife of Never Letting Go in paperback and listened to it on audio. Which is an experience I would recommend.  The text itself is unique because it has to illustrate the noise and also because Todd doesn't know how to spell, so words are misspelled and bolded.  He also swears a bit due to his low vocabulary.  Reading the book is an interesting experience unto itself.  Listening to it, you get to hear the animals talk and the unique words and sounds they make.  Plus the audio gives Todd an accent and the journey, including the intense scenes when they are being chased and hunted down, gives you an errie sort of nervous feeling that I didn't get while reading the paperback.  Although one particular character got on my nerves and was kinda scary,  frankly I thought Aaron would never die because he kept reappearing, like Jason in all the Friday 13th movies.  

The Knife of Never Letting Go is currently being made into a movie.  It is also part of a trilogy that is highly recommended by many people. I mean people seriously say this series is amazing so why not open myself up to an amazing reading experience.   I liked this book enough to continue with the series and since Patrick Ness leaves the reader shaking their heads and demanding answers at the end, I need to find out what happens.  I need to decide to go paperback or audio or both.  Tough decision.  

If I could describe this book in five words, I would say; creative, intense, unique, scary, intriguing.
What a mouthful!!