Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness

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).

OVERALL

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.

 goodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

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?

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. 📚 |🌍 | 💞 Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

63 thoughts on “Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness

  1. Great review Marie! I’ve seen so many mixed reviews over The Chaos Walking trilogy after purchasing it in January that I honestly haven’t found to motivation to start it lol. I love the originality of the world however, I’m big on character development & it seems like this may be where it falls short…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so, so much 🙂 Oh I understand, I think that’s why it took me so much time to read it as well. I thought the character development could have been better, but the world was very interesting, and I’m hoping there’ll be a bit more of the characters in the next book, who knows 🙂 I hope you’ll enjoy it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll keep an eye out for your thoughts on the 2nd book lol. I’m so hesitant to start new series at the moment BUT I do own the 1st book in this series so I should really be a good bookworm & read it 😂😂😂

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  2. I’ve read the whole series. Not the best series I’ve ever read, and like you, I found it slow-going and a bit disappointing. But, they are interesting. And, I would be disappointed to only read the first book and not find out the whole story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really interesting to read your thoughts on this – I adored this book, but I’ve had friends who’ve been less enthusiastic so it’s interesting to see what your issues with it were. I came to the book without any expectations (it was a recommendation from a friend and I’d heard nothing else about it), so maybe that helped, but I guess I also liked being thrown in the deep end with the world and the unique voice. As for that “Todd?” moment, just thinking about it makes me feel sad!!

    But even though I absolutely loved this book, I personally was pretty disappointed by the sequels. By the third one I was frustrated with the story and had no love left for the characters… I guess I just stopped understanding their actions/motivations, got annoyed at their choices, and felt they were just pawns being used to explore a grand philosophy/theme. That said, I have friends who’ve loved the sequels and argued with me, so it might just be another case of “it’s not you, it’s me” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so, so much, it’s great to hear your thoughts about this book. I guess if I went in with a little less expectations, I would have been maybe less disappointed by it as well. Oh no, too bad you couldn’t enjoy the sequels just as much. They lost the magic the first book had for you? :/
      Thank you so much ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes sadly they lost the magic for me 😦 Perhaps I had the wrong expectation/mood coming into them though or they weren’t the right style for me (or maybe the thrown-in-the-deep-end experience I enjoyed in the first one that wasn’t there in the sequels), who knows. If you do read them though I’d be very curious to know what you think!

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  4. Patrick Ness is so hit-or-miss for me (OK, I’ve only read A Monster Calls and TROUJLH) that I’m a bit worried about how I’m going to feel with this one! If it’s as imaginative as you make it sound like, I think I’m going to love it a lot – world-building is VERY important to me and the more creative an author does it, the more willing I am to ignore any other flaws the book might have. Great review, Marie! 💘

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great review my Sweechie! I totally understand your points. Despite the raving reviews, I don’t feel any real curiosity about Ness’ works. Hype might have contributed to that feeling. I might give him a chance later but right now it feels I don’t need these stories 🙂
    It’s too bad you couldn’t connect more to the characters. I need to warm to at least one character to have an interest in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Oh, well I understand,a nd if you’re not feeling it, no need to try and read these. Not while there are so many books you feel more drawn to at the moment 🙂 I hope you’ll try his works someday though, especially More Than This. That book left me speechless.

      Like

  6. I’m glad I’m not the only one on the fence about this book. I haven’t continued the series yet, and I’m not certain I’m going to. Manchee is the best part, and I thought the villain was absolutely ridiculous. But, this is an incredibly fascinating premise. I look forward to your opinion of the second book, whenever you get to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yay, I’m glad to have someone feeling the same way about this book, I felt like the black sheep of the lot 😂 Manchee was the best part of it all, I agree, it just broke my heart that he ended up this way. But yes, this world is so intriguing, I loved the idea. I hope I’ll connect to the next books a bit better! Thank you so much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yay! I’m glad you liked it!! I love the Chaos Walking series generally, but this first book is the best of the series. Especially because of Manchee ❤ And I know what you mean about Todd being both strong and weak which I think is so true. He's always been a grey character in actions even though he really wants to be the good guy and the hero

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  8. Great review for this book Marie, ❤ I'm sorry it didn't live up to your expectations but I guess if it was so hyped up for you there's only so much it could meet you know?
    I agree the world building was interesting, it's such a unique concept as well, but I didn't seem to have the same issues with the language and the characters though. It took me a while to warm up to Todd but by the end I did love his and Viola's characters.
    Do you plan to start the next book at some point. If you do hopefully that's one's better for you! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Beth! Yes, I really think that was it. I wanted to love it, but I had too many expectations :/
      I loved the world though, and the whole idea behind it, it was so original and unique! I wish I could have connected a bit more with the story overall, but I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next book sometime soon. Hoping to love it more! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s all right! Sometimes hype can be a book’s worst enemy. The more your expectations are built up the more unlikely it is, I guess, a book will actually reach them.
        I loved the whole series but I do think it gets better with each book so I’ll keep my fingers crossed you love the second more! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I impulse bought this whole series after reading a lot of great reviews for it a while back but still haven’t gotten to it 🙈. It sucks that the character development seemed lacking for you and that there wasn’t a lot of connection. Connecting to the characters has always been a big part of reading for me so I’m thinking I’ll definitely need to lower my expectations haha. But it sounds like the world building was pretty solid. Either way, glad you enjoyed the rest of the book beyond not connecting to the characters. I’ll have to give in and read this for myself in the future. Great review as always, Marie! 😊💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I went in with lots of expectations for that one, maybe too much, and it’s probably why I couldn’t fall in love with it completely :/ The world-building was interesting and the whole idea SO unique, this is what I loved the most about this book! I hope you’ll read and enjoy it when you get to it! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. MANCHEE! I agree with so much of this review, the plot, premise and characters were definitely so interesting but i too felt like I couldn’t get too close to them and that there was just something that wasn’t there. If you do go through with continuing, I hope you enjoy the rest of the series!

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  11. I see what you’re talking about with this book, but at the same time I kind of liked the aspects of style and characters that didn’t work for you. And MANCHEE OMG *cries* WHY????!!!! The ending was so traumatic and sad but then at the same time I haven’t gone on to read the other books, although I bought this one and the second one for Shanti so maybe soon? 🙂 Great review. It’s sometime good to see more negative reviews and get a sense of a reviewers critical eye ❤ 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  12. THIS. I felt the same way Marie. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t quite love it. I felt like there was something missing, but I can’t quite figure out what. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Totally see where the book caused troubles for you. The character’s voice is not something we read or hear very often; getting used to it would require some time. I’m glad you were still able to enjoy this though. That dog was such a pivotal, emotional moment though. He barely says ONE word, yet he broke our hearts so easily! Great review, Marie! 🙂

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Everyone praises Ness to no end and this may be the first review where someone didn’t love The Knife of Never Letting Go, which isn’t a bad thing. It was really refreshing to read your review. But I could relate to your feelings (not about this book necessarily but others). Sometimes I’m a victim of hype as well. 😄 Anyway, wonderful review, Marie! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I listened to this book, and I think it’s one of the few instances where the audiobook might be better than the written book, because the writing style sounds so natural when read aloud, and I imagine it flows much smoother (I’ve never actually read it, only listened, so I don’t know for sure.) This was a super interesting review of a book I love though, thanks for writing it!

    Liked by 1 person

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