I can’t even remember when I first heard of the Chaos Walking trilogy, but it must have been around the time I started blogging. If I had to sum up what other bloggers said, in two words, it’d probably be “READ THIS”. Since there are way too many books, I’m a bit late to this, but…I read it, and I have to say, I was a bit disappointed. Maybe it’s because I went in with too many expectations, keeping these other bloggers’ reviews in the back of my mind, I’m not sure. But here, it’s definitely a case of, “it’s not you, it’s me”.
A WORLD FILLED WITH NOISE
“The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.”
Something that attracted me right from the start here, is the originality of the synopsis, and of Patrick Ness’ boundless imagination. After reading More Than This, which I loved to bits, and The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which was a bit quieter but just as good, I went in with high hopes and hoping to get back into that familiar style and fall in love with it. Except, erm, I didn’t. Because The Knife of Never Letting Go is surprising, in everything. In the world it creates, because it’s so original. People can HEAR everyone’s thoughts, and it’s called The Noise. Scary, compelling, and a bit stressful all the time, if you ask me. From the start, I was curious about this world, and craved to know more and more, everything about its roots and boundaries and the people living in it. Unfortunately, I felt like I was thrown in the middle of the book with not many explanations, and felt a bit…lost. There’s no info-dumping here, that’s for sure, but I think I would have enjoyed to know a little bit more and have a little bit more world-building here and there.
AN AUTHENTIC, ORIGINAL VOICE
“I am Todd Hewitt, I think to myself with my eyes closed. I am twelve years and twelve months old. I live in Prentisstown on New World. I will be a man in one month’s time exactly.”
The Knife of Never Letting Go is a particular book. Coming from an illiterate background, Todd doesn’t speak, nor read or write like the typical young adult protagonist in a contemporary book. Patrick Ness made sure that Todd’s voice was authentic, and in that I can only be happy – but this means it took me a little longer to get used to this. Todd’s words aren’t always in good English, there are letters that are interchangeable in his dialogue. If you can easily find the right word again by thinking about half a second, it slowed down my reading a little bit. Also, since Todd is the narrator of the story, you can find this very oral, very different type of speech as you go along in the book. I have to say, I had a hard time with it and unfortunately this is probably why I couldn’t get fully immersed in the story, as some other readers might have.
“Do you believe there’s hope at the end?” I ask. “No,” she says simply, looking away. “No, I don’t, but I’m still going.”
Also, I’m guessing this is what prevented me from getting too close to the characters. Todd is definitely not your usual protagonist, and I loved how he both seemed strong and weak at times, and how his own mind and need to go on, to find hope, drove him through the book and until the end of the story. If I liked having a character like this, I couldn’t really feel for him – I felt bad, oh trust me, at times, I DID so much -, but I didn’t fall in love with him. Viola is another interesting main character – I really liked her right from the start, but she suffers a bit from the same issue I had with the world here: a bit of a lack of development. I was wishing to learn more about her and where she comes from and I felt like some things were missing.
TWISTS AND TURNS AND A DOG I LOVED
“I think maybe everybody falls,” I say. “I think maybe we all do. And I don’t think that’s the asking.” I pull on her arms gently to make sure she’s listening. “I think the asking is whether we get back up again.”
From what I’m writing, I feel like you’re all going to think I really didn’t enjoy reading the book, but that’s NOT the case. As I said before, The Knife of Never Letting Go is full of imagination, intriguing, fast-paced and filled with twists and turns that kept me reading, despite the lack of connection I felt to the characters. Also, I can only admire Patrick Ness’ imagination, forever fierce and boundless, and I love this so, so much. Another thing I can say I loved in this book, is Manchee. I think it’s one of the first times where an animal takes such a big place in the story, and it was refreshing, and great for Todd to have such a good companion. (SPOILERS). Also, I now get why everyone told me about a dog in that book half-crying. I think the moment I felt LOTS of things was when, well, you know. I don’t want to think about it. This is just TOO SAD. Can anyone tell me it’s not true and he’s coming back? I mean, “Todd?” (END OF SPOILERS).
This book is a promising debut to the series, I can’t deny that. The concept is imaginative, different, and I’d like to know more and more about that world and what happens next. Despite being fast-paced, I wish I could have connected a bit more with the characters and the story overall, but can only admire Ness’ work with this, both in the world, in the writing, and in the characters he wanted to shape. I’m not making this series a priority on my TBR, but I’m definitely curious to see if I’d get into the second book more than the first one.
Final rating: 3 drops!
Did you read The Knife of Never Letting Go? Did you enjoy it? Do you want to read it?
Do you think the series just gets better and better, and I should keep on reading it?Share your thoughts in comments!
Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Published by Walker, May 5th 2008.
Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.
But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?