Sunday, 20 September 2015

Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Series: Book 1 of 3
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
My Rating: 5 stars
Buy: Book Depository
Prentisstown is not the same as other towns. For one, all the women are dead. For another, everyone can hear each others thoughts. The thoughts of men spill out into the open in rivers of constant sound, so keeping secrets is not easy. But when Todd Hewitt finds a spot of silence in the impenetrable Noise, he realises that he knows far less about Prentisstown and its people than he thought.

In a world where boys become men at age thirteen, Todd has a limited time before he comes of age. Before he can ponder on what this means, he is forced to flee from everything he once knew with only his dog by his side.

This was so much more than I was expecting for a Science Fiction story. The world was complicated but easy to adjust to. Even though there are some story telling cliches, the concepts and the approach goes above and beyond with all of the elements of this world being included for a purpose - like pieces of a machine working perfectly together.

The unusual but intriguing introduction had me hooked and it said so much about Todd before anything is learnt about him. Plus I dare you to name me another book that starts with a dog telling you he needs to poo. I dare you.

Todd is such an interesting character with a great voice. His rambling was initially difficult to adjust to, but once I did I saw that he acts exactly how a twelve year old boy in a corrupt society should act. Although to begin with Todd is hardly the most likable character, he definitely shows a lot of development throughout the course of the book.

A lot of Todd's growth is shown through his dog, Manchee, as his attitude towards him changes. In Todd's world, all animals can speak. Before you become critical: this is not your typical comedic animal movie speak. This is an incredibly accurate representation of animals. The traits of loyalty and lack of understanding can be shown through how Manchee talks rather than having to be told. His relationship with Todd is precious, and is quite possibly one of the greatest boy-and-his-dog stories I have ever come across.

The themes are much more serious than is traditionally expected for books of this genre. Despite the narrator having very limited vocabulary, this almost makes the underlying concepts clearer. The way women are treated in this book is incredibly sexist and Ness really highlighted this as Todd realises how poorly his people behave. This is such an important theme for young people to come across when reading, as often the more serious ideas become covered up beneath intense action scenes and plot.

Another idea I loved that Ness adressed was what it truly means to be a man. He shows that there is so much more to it than being of age or having typical masculine traits. This man made concept of being a man is all part of the town's deception, using false religion in order to create a sense of fear among those who try to defy it.

This being my first encounter with Ness' writing, I must say I am hugely impressed and upset that I did not read this sooner. The story was so gripping that reading flew by and I am greatly looking forward to the rest of the series. I hope books two and three have as much impact as the first.

You can find this review on Goodreads.

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