My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Knife of Never Letting Go. The cover is a clue to what this book is going to be like. The typography wouldn’t look out-of-place on a horror movie and looks like it was written with the tip of a knife, perhaps the big bloody blade that dissects the front cover horizontally. Look a bit closer and you will see raised, dissonate lettering that jangles in row after row all over the cover. This is not going to be a comfortable read.
I bought this book last summer and stuck it on my to-read stack, where it lay gathering dust for several months until I downloaded the prequel short story on Kindle titled, The New World. That was written exceptionally well and provided the back story for one of the main characters in TKONLG; Viola. After that, I had to pick up this book and start reading. Why has it taken me so long to finish? I’m sure some readers will take as long merely because of the level of discomfort they will experience from reading it, but for me it was just a matter of never having enough time to sit down with the book, hence most of my reading is done on the Kindle App.
The story opens with a boy, Todd, hanging out with his dog, Manchee, in a swamp. We are introduced to the concept of Noise, the involuntary projection of thoughts that reflect the mental state of the individual, and it is alleged that it was inflicted upon the human settlers of New World by the now extinct, indigenous species known as Spackle. This same disease apparently wiped out all the women on New World hence Todd is the last boy and in a matter of weeks he will joining the rank of men. Even the animals have been afflicted with Noise, thus we are exposed to the inner-thoughts of Manchee, usually limited to ‘Todd’, ‘Squirrel’ and ‘Poo’. Then Todd comes across a gap in the Noise, like a hole in reality, something not afflicted with Noise. This discovery turns Todd’s beliefs upside-down and soon finds him on the run from his home, Prentiss Town, only to learn that much of what he knew about the world was false too. He joins forces with the space-girl Viola, with the half-baked plan of finding the first city of New World, Haven. Dogging their steps is an insane priest who wants a ‘sacrifice’, Prentiss Jr, the Mayor’s son and not far behind them is an army of Prentiss Town men.
throughout the book, Todd and Viola are presented with horrible choices and tragedy, to a level that it has divided many readers opinion about this book. Some claim it is grotesque and sadistic, whereas others, myself included, say that it is honest and real. Rather, I believe what people find truly disturbing about this book is how it reveals human nature, both good and bad, in a similar way to Lord of the Flies, GONE and the Hunger Games, and that is why this will prove to be a classic in the making.
Patrick Ness has done a brilliant job of tackling difficult issues and taking the reading on a journey with the characters. TKONLG is by far one of the best books I’ve read. The only thing that disagreed with me was the ending (which I will not reveal) that left me dissatisfied and without closure, otherwise this book would have merited the full 5 stars. One thing is for certain, this is a must read and worthy of being entered into the canon of classics.