The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

I think I’ve mentioned in the blog before that I’m not a big fan of dystopian books but since so many blogging buddies loved the Chaos Walking trilogy, I decided to give it a try. I received all three books for my birthday this year.

Here’s the summary from Patrick Ness’ website:

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…

I think the UK editions are so pretty, look:

The Knife of Never Letting Go is a very absorbing read. Each chapter end was written in such a way that it encourages you to keep on reading and I think that’s the mark of an excellent writer. Other people warned me that the language might take some getting used to. Todd’s lack of education is clearly reflected in the way he narrates but that didn’t bother me at all. Patrick Ness created a very intriguing world with this trilogy and it reminded me somewhat of Sharon Shinn’s Samaria. Todd was believable as a boy on the cusp of manhood, as innocent as his foster fathers can keep him and clueless about his town’s past. He has no idea of what’s real and what’s not in his world. When he discovers something unexpected, he has no choice but to run, together with his accidental friend, Viola. My favorite character in the entire book is Manchee, Todd’s dog. I feel like if dogs could communicate with their masters, they’d act exactly like Manchee. At first I found him hilarious because he acted the same way as Dug, the talking dog in the Pixar film Up with his constant shouts of “Squirrel!” before running after the smaller animal. Manchee is a steadfast companion and the best friend any boy could ever have.

To be honest, I was hoping I’d love this just as much as my blogging friends did but that didn’t happen (please don’t hate me!). I really liked it but it didn’t make me emotional, which is what other readers experienced. Others had really violent reactions to this book: they cried, they wanted to throw it against a wall, they had to pause before they could continue reading. I feel like I was more of a casual observer and I was kind of detached from the characters instead of being fully engrossed. And I can’t even explain why. There wasn’t anything specific that pulled me out of the story, I just wasn’t sucked in. I’m starting to think that maybe I’m missing the dystopian gene? Why do I end up just liking the post-apocalyptic books that others love? But then again, I loved The Hunger Games and The Giver so maybe it really is just a matter of taste. Like I said, this is a really good book with excellent writing and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to fans of dystopian lit, I just wanted to explain why I didn’t love it. I’m still looking forward to reading the other two books in the trilogy since I already have copies and I am curious about what will happen to Todd and the rest of the characters. I just don’t think I will be as enthusiastic about this series as the rest of the fans are.

Other reviews:
See Michelle Read
One More Page
Good Books and Good Wine
The Crooked Shelf

This book is one of my entries in the Once Upon a Time challenge.

32 thoughts on “The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

  1. I think I know what you mean – I also really liked this book but didn’t love it. In my case, I think maybe it was because I had such high expectations.

    But, I think the other two books in the series are better, so I hope you do read them soon.

    p.s. Manchee was my favorite character too!:)

    • I think my expectations played a part too. So many people were raving about this book and most of them were trusted bloggers so I decided to give it a try.

      Oh you’ve finished the other two books already? And they’re better than this one?

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  3. Phew *wipes brow* I’m glad you liked it. I think I’m a sucker for action-packed page turners. πŸ™‚

    I loved Manchee too. His thoughts are exactly what a dog’s would be.

    Don’t feel like you need to read the rest of the series by any means but I understand since you already have the other books.

    • I usually am too. I really don’t know why I wasn’t fully engaged by this one.

      Looks like we’re all fans of Manchee! πŸ™‚

      Yep, still going to read the rest of the books but since I’m not that excited about them, I’m not sure when I’ll get around to picking them up.

  4. I’m not sure that it’s the dystopian thing that keeps you disconnected from the book. I’m not exactly a genre-holic, either (you honestly can throw any kind of book at me that you love and I’ll be sure to look into it). But THAT ONE POINT in the book had me completely distraught because of all that those two characters had experienced together. It’s Ness’s deftly-written introspection. The fact that Todd Hewitt went through so much SUCKY stuff and all of his struggles and then THAT happened and I was like OMG YOU HAVE *GOT* TO BE KIDDING ME. And of course, I should’ve expected it, in hindsight, but I like to play Stupid Girl every now and then and pretend that bad things don’t happen even though violence was happening right and left throughout this book.

    And still you remained unaffected? WELL THEN, I have to seriously consider that you carry the robot gene, of course.

    I kid, I kid. πŸ˜‰ But I’ve heard they only get better from here.

    • I’m just thinking that it’s a dystopian thing because I felt the same way about other books from that sub-genre. The thing is, I have to be fully invested in the characters in order to feel something for them when big things happen and I didn’t feel that way about Todd and the rest of the characters in this book. There really was a disconnect and I was just a distant observer, I didn’t feel that I was actually there with the characters. So when the incident that you’re talking about occurred, I was surprised but I wasn’t upset or anything like that. Seriously, I really don’t know why. It would have made more sense if that incident pulled me out of the story but that wasn’t what happened.

  5. huh. so yeah, maybe you just like some dystopian books, not including this one. so don’t feel bad about it πŸ™‚ this makes me want to read it ASAP! i have the UK ed and yes, it’s so pretty πŸ™‚

    • Yeah, I can’t really predict whether I’ll like a book or not until I read it so I’m okay with giving recommendations a try. Hope you get to read your copy soon! I think there are more UK editions of this series in local stores than US editions.

  6. I almost didn’t get this one because I heard it was violent, but then people started raving about it. πŸ˜› To be honest, if Manchee wasn’t there, I probably wouldn’t like this one that much.

    I heard the next two books are way better, though. Possibly darker, but better. I remember Honey saying that Monsters of Men has the best ending out of all endings. Let’s see. πŸ™‚

    • I didn’t even have problems with the violence. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, just on the same level of The Hunger Games trilogy maybe? I’m so glad Manchee was there, I would’ve liked this book less if he wasn’t.

      Okay, I’ll keep that in mind since people keep on pointing out the same thing. πŸ™‚

  7. I won this one from Tina (Thanks Tina!) and she got me the other cover which I liked better, it has lovely sunset colors. Although I do like the Hunger Games better, still I adored this book. I notice how romance is a bit down played in this book in comparison to perhaps Hunger Games and other YA dystopian books which I find quite refreshing. Oh, I need to give Giver a try. And two thumbs up for Manchee! (and Dug!):)

    • Hey Tin, you mean the US edition? I like the UK editions better than those actually. πŸ˜› There wasn’t even any romance in it, I believe. What Todd and Viola had was more friendship than romance but maybe that will be developed in the latter books.

  8. I’ve been wavering about whether or not to read this one for sometime. I don’t really like dystopia as a general rule. After reading this I will probably continue to wait…

    • If dystopia isn’t your thing then you might have the same reaction that I did. They do say that the sequels are better than the first one. I’ll have to wait and see. Maybe you can read this when there aren’t that many books in your TBR pile?

  9. I’m intrigued. I shall try to find a copy of this. Oh my gods, that UK version looks awesome. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Diane, it’s available in major bookstores in Manila so I don’t think you’ll have a hard time finding a copy. They even sell the UK editions in National. Hope you get to read it soon!

  10. So sad you didn’t love this, but…I also completely understand. I actually listened to the audio version of the series which I think swayed my opinion hugely. The narrator, Nick Podehl, is phenomenal! He honestly made the book come alive for me. So, in a way it was very different from reading the text. Maybe try and listen to the last two instead of read? I think you’d really enjoy them, the last two add more narrators making it more like listening to a play.

    Oh, but yes, Manchee is absolutely still my favorite character. Loved him!

    • Wow, sounds like the audio book is a lot of fun! They’re really expensive though so I’m not sure if I’d be willing to try them out especially since I already have the paperbacks of the other two books. Also, I’ve tried listening to audio books before and I realized that I can’t concentrate on the story unless I’m not doing anything else.

  11. Don’t worry that you weren’t over the top for this one, I’m just glad you read it! Patrick Ness’ world is amazingly crafted and I think this series is just superb for that alone. And yes, Manchee! He is the best and totally reminded me of Dug!

    I’m glad to hear you’ll keep reading the series though.

    • I was really curious because of all the positive reviews so I think I would’ve picked this up even if I didn’t receive copies of the trilogy for my birthday. Yes, I agree that Patrick Ness’ world is written well. Didn’t it remind you of Samaria?

  12. Oh thank god somebody I knew reviewed this, finally. It has been intriguing me for sometime now and I think after reading your blog I’ll finallu go aHead and get the books.

    • Tara! Musta na? What have you been reading lately? πŸ™‚ I have a feeling you’ll enjoy reading this, especially if you loved The Hunger Games trilogy. Let me know what you think when you get around to reading it.

      • Lately, puro The Dresden Files. But I stopped at the 6th book coz Magic Slays was released. I’m almost done. Enjoying both authors so far (Ilona Andrews and Jim Butcher) because they seem so similar in their writing. Funny and the twists in the plot is just brilliant. My TBR pile of YA fiction is getting bigger though πŸ™‚

      • Oh that’s right, you started on The Dresden Files nga pala. I’ve had so many people recommend that series and some of them say that the writing is similar to Ilona Andrews. I have a copy of the first book but I haven’t gotten around to it. I’m planning to post a review of Magic Slays today. πŸ™‚

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