Patrick Ness’ “The Knife of Never Letting Go”
My best friend and fellow bookworm, Isa, had been reading this series by Patrick Ness called Chaos Walking and I assumed it was a series of Christian non-fiction, which deterred me from reading it. Mostly because I never finish those, and frankly, I had been in the mood for something that reeks of adventure. I spied her talking to Ching about something that trumps their love for Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games—and I know how much both of them love the world of Panem—and my ears suddenly perked up. I bought the first book “The Knife of Never Letting Go” on my Kindle and proceeded to read in spurts, finishing it in about two and a half days.
First of all, it starts out slow and disorienting because the world you’re thrown into is an off-Earth agricultural colony where the protagonist, Todd Hewitt, spoke in a first-person Southern twang. The high hopes I had were immediately squashed, but I carried on because I trust those two girls’ tastes and, as what usually happens with stories, they pick up and you fall in love with them.
I didn’t fall in love with this book, however, though I can say that it’s pretty darned good. The thing you should know about New World is that something called “Noise” exists, and what it basically means is that your private thoughts aren’t safe from any other man, and vice versa. It’s a side-effect of a germ released by the army of Spackles, back when there was a war between them (natives of New World) and the men (settlers), and without giving too much away, it affects women differently.
In a confusing muddle of events (you experience everything through Todd’s unfiltered brain), Todd has to leave his hometown, Prentisstown, to escape to the next settlement, though he never is quite sure why he’s running. Which makes the journey all the more difficult. His adoptive parents, Ben and Cillian, send him off with a talking dog named Manchee and a book his mother kept as a diary beginning on the day he was born, going on until she had died.
It’s a lot to chew, and it was a little discouraging to read sometimes because it felt like I was always kept more in the dark than not. I liked it enough; it was an interesting story, but the constant run-on sentences were distracting, and though it does in fact become action-packed, I don’t know enough of what’s going on until nearly the very end and by then, I’d gone on the same tiring journey as Todd, side-stepping evil, rolling over hills, and trying to block out all the unnecessary noise.
At its core, it seems to be a story of a boy who has a chance to escape what his predetermined history had written for him. What is a measure of a man? What sets him apart from all the other men he has known all his life? How does he act, given the cards that have been laid down before him? Is it possible to fight the very things that we have always thought defined us?
The first book ends with a cliffhanger, and I’m too emotionally involved with the story to stop bothering with it altogether. I do wish it picks up, and I think I can overlook the twists and turns of the Prentisstown tongue, just to be able to get to the end. If they get there, if they find a way. “The Knife of Never Letting Go” leaves the reader in a very awful spot, and all I can think about is how to get myself out of there.