Monday, 17 December 2012

Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking #1)

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
In The Knife of Never Letting Go, subjects such as war, love, feminism, misogyny and death are dealt with in a way that is a) beautiful and b) so intense oh my God I couldn't stop reading even though it hurt.  And that's just the start of a series that will wreck you.

Title & Author: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Published: 2008
Series: Chaos Walking #1
Pages: 479 (Walker Books, 2008)
Challenge: Series Catch-Up
Status: Owned book

Synopsis: 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.  (edited from Goodreads because hello spoilers much?)

First Line: "The first thing you find out when yer dog starts to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say.  About anything."

Review: This is a difficult review to write because a) I love this book so damn much, I've read it twice now and know I'll reread it repeatedly; and b) I want to say a lot but don't want to spoil.  A lot of what makes this book so good is the constant surprise and mystery and wondering just what Patrick Ness is going to drop his characters into next.  And then you find out and it hurts and you want it to stop but you also can't stop reading and then you get to the end and let out all the swears because I warn you now, cliffhanger o'clock.  Have the rest of the trilogy ready to go because it really needs to be read together or you'll go mad with anticipation.

So, without wanting to spoil anything: Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown, which is the last settlement on New World.  When Todd was a baby the Noise germ (released by the Spackle, the native aliens, during a war that eventually wiped them out) killed all the women of the town and made it so the thoughts of everyone and everything else can be heard.  All the time.  Forever.  This is shown in the book as a mass of words and fonts that are hard to differentiate and give you a sense of just how nightmarish this world is.  Todd has learned to hide his Noise a little, but he's still only twelve and stuff leaks out - and when he finds something strange in the swamp, he knows he has to keep it a secret.  Only he fails and has to run and then it's a manic chase across New World in which he learns that everything he thought was true isn't.

And there's death and violence and war and grief and seriously, this book is so good.  There's one bit (and people who've read it before know what it is) that I still can't believe Patrick Ness did because you do not do that sort of thing.  That is crossing a line.  I had forgotten it happened on my reread and I actually tried to convince myself it wasn't going to occur.  That it did and it hurt as much this time as before is testament to how this book sucks you in and makes you care about the characters.

I'm really not sure this review conveys how much I love and admire this book (although maybe the sheer incoherence gets that across).  I just think everyone should read it, and then continue with the rest of the trilogy.  It made me cry and think and swear, all of which are good things when I'm reading.  Read it.

Rating: 10/10

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