The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness: Review

Posted July 19, 2010 by Emily in book review, Uncategorized / 12 Comments

The Knife of Never Letting Go
By: Patrick Ness
Copy received from my local library

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown.

But Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in a constant, overwhelming, never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets.

Or are there?

Just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd unexpectedly stumbles upon a spot of complete silence.

Which is impossible.

Prentisstown has been lying to him.

And now he’s going to have to run…

My Review: This book was highly recommended by Holly at Book Harbringer. According to Holly, the Chaos Walking series was one that she wanted to shout about from the rooftops. With a recommendation like that, how could I resist?

This novel was billed to me as a dystopian novel. I’m not sure I agree with that. See, this story takes place on another planet. In my own personal definition of dystopia, things are still going on at Earth.

The first line of this novel is probably one of the best I’ve ever read. It sets up the story so beautifully, and immediately catches your interest:

The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything.

The Knife of Never Letting Go keeps a fast pace; however, initially I found it hard to get into. Much like The Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines, this book had a unique writing style. Whenever “noise” was mentioned, it was in a different type-face than the rest of the story. Todd doesn’t know how to read, thus his language is poor and rudimentary. I spoke to one person who never did finish this book because she couldn’t get past the fact that the dog spoke.

But, I stuck with it. And I’m very glad I did. About four or five chapters in, the book took an unexpected twist.  Once that major twist happened, I got sucked in. Todd was an amazing character. He has the innocence of youth and a deep desire to do good. In many ways his upbringing has left him with some prejudice that he has to overcome.  In his world, everyone knows what everyone is thinking. Patrick Ness makes you really appreciate the wonderful gift that is the solitude of our own thoughts.

This book ends in a cliffhanger that I was not pleased with. I am not a big fan of books that end in a way that there is no way the story resolves until a sequel comes along.  With that said, at least all the other books are out, so I won’t have a long wait for the rest of the series.

If you like science fiction, you will enjoy this book. Readers who like interesting typesetting and a visual aspect to their books also have a good chance of liking this book. I don’t know that I would recommend this book to all readers. But, if you are feeling daring, definitely pick it up.

My Rating:

Profanity: Mild
Sexuality: Mild; a few references here and there in some of the men’s “noise”
Violence: Moderate
Drugs and Alcohol: None


12 responses to “The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness: Review

  1. Well, I'm glad you liked it. I was so worried. I hope you get your hands on The Ask and the Answer soon. It helped that I was able to start reading it the day after I finished Knife.

    Rhiannon Hart makes some interesting points regarding the dystopian classification in her blog review of the third book, Monsters of Men. ( She's interviewed Patrick Ness, and he shuns all labels, so he doesn't classify his books as dystopian.

    I do think although it doesn't happen on Earth, Viola and Todd are escaping an utopia gone wrong, so you could call it dystopian. Of course all three books in the trilogy are included on wikipedia's dystopian novels list. Just thought those were interesting tidbits. πŸ˜‰

    Just so you know, I cannot get comments to post on your blog from Mozilla's Firefox. I always have to switch over to Explorer. I' comment a lot more on your blog if I didn't have to switch over. I know it can be fixed, just not sure how.

  2. I tried to read that book, but I couldn't get past the odd writing style and the dialect. I couldn't figure out what was going on. I gave up on it after about 20 pages. I'm glad you stuck with it and liked it.

  3. Hey Emily!
    First off, I *definitely* agree with you on your definition of dystopian. For me, I kind of frowned a little at INCARCERON being a dystopian because we're not exactly sure if it takes place on earth or somewhere 100% fictional.
    Like you, all the friends I know who have read this series absolutely adored it.
    Ohh and I definitely concur with cliffhanger endings. I've personally been putting off HUNGER GAMES & CATCHING FIRE for that very reason πŸ™‚
    I was so excited to read your review! This book just came to me in the mail last week, so I might just have to bump it up after the favorable but honest review you gave it. Thanks a bunch!

  4. I am so glad that you liked this. The other books in the series are just as good – with the second one particularly standing out. Will look forward to hearing your thoughts on them too! Great review.

  5. I read this book last summer when it was on the nominee list for YALSA's Teens Top Ten. I didn't care for it because nothing positive ever seemed to happen.

    I am also very tired of books that do not have an ending. I love series, but I expect every title to have a solid conclusion, not a cliffhanger!

    I decided not to purchase the sequels unless one of my students asked me to do so. Of course, the first one who read it, loved it. LOL

    I haven't read the sequel and do not intend to. I will keep buying them for the kids though.

    (I am posting from FF too.)

  6. *spoilers ahead*

    I had high hopes for this book. As with all books, it had wonderful potential at the beginning. However, I must say (or write) that I was disappointed with this book and will not be reading the sequels.

    I am an avid fan of 'dystopian' novels, however I do not like books which don't answer all or most of the questions that are asked. For me, Todd didn't ever seem to be in the middle, in the centre of the action-he and Viola were running away without seeing/hearing from anyone.

    At the beginning, Viola didn't talk for ages which was very frustrating. Actually, I thought Viola would be a good representation of females in the book (come on, we need one good representation of women/girls in a book filled with men)–however, I didn't find her to be the strong, female character that I was expecting or hoping for. That was a disappointment for me.

    Todd was okay in the beginning. However, his ignorance and stubbornness to let others help just really slowed down the pace of the book ie. not letting Viola read the diary for ages. Also, the diary wasn't even important. Also, Ness revealed information too slowly, so much so that I realised I knew whatever 'revelations' Todd had before he did. That left me feeling frustrated and annoyed at Todd's slowness. I know that at least a hundred or so pages could be cut from the book.

    However, I still wanted to finish the book. It's never a good feeling when you leave a book unfinished-there's something telling you that it may improve. The end was anticlimatic for me. I was thoroughly disappointed. Where was the big fight that they were all talking about? That we were expecting? The ending was just another disappointment after everything else and the endless unanswered questions ie how come the priest survived those numerous fatal ingjuries? Why did the city give up so easily?

    Also, I agree with you. I like series' too, but I also like solid endings where things are mostly wrapped up before the next book.

    On a good note, I will give Ness credit for undertaking a high concept idea.

    Overall, I was left feeling thoroughly frustrated by The Knife of Never Letting Go and won't be reading further.

    What I'll remember most from the book is "Poo, Todd?"

  7. I am really interested in reading this book, but I seem to read sooo many mixed reviews. I think I'll like it, but I don't want to waste my time if I'm one of those who doesn't.


  8. @Kaya: Yes, I also will always remember Poo Todd? I absolutely agree with your comment. Viola was frustrating for most of the book, and Todd equally so.

    Amelia: I don't know that I would have started THE HUNGER GAMES if I had know about the cliff hangers. But, I'm glad I did anyway, and I can't wait for Mockingjay.

    Holly, thank you so much for the awesome link. That's interesting that Patrick Ness doesn't consider the book to be dystopian. And, like I said, my opinion was based on my own interpretation of what dystopia is. Which may be different from others.

Leave a Reply