It’s time to review the featured book for December 2015. We chose The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking Book #1) as the featured book for our book club; we also gave away a gift voucher to one of our lucky subscribers. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up to the reader’s group to be in with a chance of winning January’s featured book; which will be revealed tomorrow.
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I went into The Knife of Never Letting Go not knowing much about it, besides that it’s categorised as Young Adult. After finishing the book, I don’t agree with this classification at all and I believe it’s unfair for any book retailer to restrict the book specifically to a Young Adult section. The Knife of Never Letting Go loosely fits the category; with the only thing tying it to YA is the fact that the lead characters are both teens. The Knife of Never Letting Go deals with some mature concepts. It’s a political tale full of twists and turns.
The story follows the almost thirteen year old Todd Hewitt who is the last boy in Prentisstown, a town full of men. Todd lives in a world where there are supposedly no women, and the thoughts of men and animals are no secret. The book refers to these thoughts as “Noise”, where the thoughts of other men are openly broadcasted and only those gifted enough to suppress their Noise can hide their thoughts from others.
Todd’s only friend is his faithful dog Manchee, who can also produce Noise. One day while Todd is out managing his duties at the swamp he notices something abnormal. There is a hole in the Noise; he senses a completely silent being somewhere in his surroundings. He tries to investigate but the hole in the Noise disappears. Todd relays this information to his benefactors Ben and Cillian later on and they sadly inform him that he must flee, without much context.
It’s after this point that Todd sets on his epic journey with his dog Manchee, and he soon meets up with what he was told no longer existed… a girl.
The book is written from Todd’s first hand perspective, and the writer Patrick Ness decided to articulate Todd’s illiteracy within the writing. This may be a challenge for some, but I loved it as it really put me into the mind of Todd Hewitt. It also compliments Todd’s inability to read, and serves as an understanding of what the priorities were in Prentisstown. Clearly work is favoured over education.
The world building in The Knife of Never Letting Go is gradual, but well done. At 528 pages in paperback, it’s a big book for something considered YA. This book has to be a commitment, because some of the biggest plot devices aren’t fully explained until much later. What it does do well is keep the pace of the story exciting throughout; to the point you’ll refuse to give up on it even if you are slightly bothered about the length.
The Knife of Never Letting go ends on a cliff-hanger that will have you longing to start book two. I suppose that’s exactly what the first book in a series is supposed to do. Still, after reading such a long book it would have been nice to have a self-contained ending, with subtle nods at what could be next.
Ultimately, The Knife of Never Letting Go is definitely a book I would recommend to a young reader of ages 16+, and it’s completely accessible to adults if you enjoy reading long dystopian adventures.
If you’re someone who appreciates properly structured writing then you may not have patience for this books creative approach to character emphasis, but I assure that it is done in good taste. The Knife of Never Letting Go is certainly the most stand-out YA book I’ve read, but if I had my way it wouldn’t even be classed as YA to begin with. If dystopian politics or adventure appeals to you then give this book a try.
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