May 19, 2012

Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go

By: Patrick Ness
Published: September 2008 by Candlewick
Format: Hardback, 479 pages
First Reviewed: March 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
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Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

Rating: 3/5

I've been excited to read this for some time, especially after I learned that it was narrated in the voice of the character (that whole Southern thang). Sadly, though, it didn't live up to my expectations, and that mainly has to do with the writing.

The characters were ood, but not great for me. My main issue was that I couldn't get a clear Todd (main character). At times he didn't seem like a twelve-almost thirteen-year-old (technically fourteen, but I won't tell you why to avoid spoilers). Sometimes he seemed extremely young and other times he seemed older, as though the author was trying too hard. Same, though not as big of a deal, with Viola, female lead. Sometimes she seemed her age, while other times she seemed much older. They just weren't as consistent as I would have liked. However, other than that, they were all pretty well developed with distinct voices, which was my favorite part of this whole book.

The writing, though, is the main reason I'm marking the book down. I completely love that Ness went with the narration that he did, but it wasn't consistent enough for me and sometimes felt over the top. For example, there would be pages where Ness really used the "Hick" language, but then he'd go pages sounding like an "average" narrator. Also, there was way too much of this: ALL CAPS!!! Yes, with the excessive punctuation. And while I realize that it was the style of the book, I honestly don't think 90% of it was necessary and only drove me nuts. There were a fair amount of errors as well, and I'm not meaning the intentional errors. I just think if the language was more consistent and the writing wasn't so "childish" (with the excessive caps and punctuation), it could have been one of the best narrations I've ever read.

As for the plot, I liked it, but didn't love it. It did keep my attention and keep me intrigued, but it didn't blow me away. There were some creative aspects that I really admired Ness for doing as well as some action and adventure that wasn't overdone. It just felt like it was missing something. Emotional connection probably being it. I never truly felt involved in the story like I prefer to be. I felt more as if I were simply reading a cool story instead of being involved and taken away into another world. Maybe Ness will pick things up in the sequel, though, because I am very curious to what's going to happen next.

Overall, I liked it, but wanted to love it. But it was worth the read.

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