Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Series: Chaos Walking #1
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright: May 5th, 2008
Pages: 496 (paperback)
To Buy: Amazon.com
Acquired from the library
In a world where everyone can hear each other's Noise, there is no privacy. No lies. No silence. At least, that's what Todd Hewitt, the last boy in Prentisstown, has grown up believing. But when he and his dog, Manchee (who's thoughts he can hear as well) stumble upon a pocket of silence in the swamp, his world is turned upside down. Now, without completely understanding why, he must flee the town in order to keep the silence a secret.
I really, really, REALLY enjoyed reading this book. A thriller at its finest, The Knife of Never Letting Go's plot is dark, mysterious, and action packed. Todd's transformation from a whiny, bored, and somewhat selfish boy is really well done. He is the kind of character that you start cheering for towards the middle of the book rather than right from the beginning, and Ness couldn't have done a better job with the narration. Narrated in first person, the gritty style of it reflects the bleak state of the world. Some words are spelled phonetically, extending the idea that Todd can't really read. He narrates like he hears, and often breaks the fourth wall to directly address the reader (usually to tell us to shut up our own Noise), bringing the reader into the story. In addition, the other characters' Noise is expressed with scratchy, overlapped writing, sometimes covering the whole page to describe the chaos. It made this book sort of like a picture book, and overall created a very unique reading experience.
Though I admit that the ending was somewhat depressing and unsatisfying, I can't lie and say that I didn't see it coming. After all, this is a dystopian novel, and nobody is allowed to be happy until the very end of the series (its like writing law 101). The Knife of Never Letting Go leaves the reader with an awful cliffhanger, which is to be picked up as soon as book two begins. The good news is that readers will not have to wait a year to continue the series because the books are already out (thank gods). Regardless, it was an excellent novel, and one that I highly recommend to those who enjoy the genre.