Wednesday 28 September 2011

REVIEW - 'The Knife of Never Letting Go', Patrick Ness (Walker Books, 2008)

Young Todd Hewitt is the only boy left in Prentisstown. The only boy among men. In Prentisstown, all thoughts can be heard by everyone. There shouldn't be any secrets. Until today, when Todd uncovers the biggest secret of all and is forced to flee...

Ok, first up, apologies - this review might be bit on the long side. It's a big book.

After reading a fair amount of buzz about this over the last few months, I happened to stumble across a near pristine copy in the secondhand bookshop where I work.

It is possibly the most beautiful book I have ever set my eyes upon. 

I won't describe it here, but take my word for it - if you decide to track this one down, you MUST get a hardcover copy. You MUST, I tell you.

Anyway, does the content live up to the packaging? Well, it's long. I don't give a toss about this, as long as it doesn't feel long, as long as I'm not aware that I'm ploughing through a book when I'm supposed to be flying through the pages and before I know it, it's 3 o'clock in the morning and I realise I've not done the ironing, or the washing up, and I've left my contact lenses in. And I don't give a crap about any of the above.

Well, I have to admit, in the first half of the book, I was aware of a little bit of ploughing going on. Just enough to distract me. It is very fast paced at the start and maybe I was being a bit unreasonable, maybe it just set too high a precedent, but I just wanted MORE pace, just wanted Todd to get onto the next bit of his adventure/nightmare. Ok, maybe I'm being a bit demanding.

HOWEVER, oh my lord, in the last half, I was hooked. I initially thought the relationship between Todd and Viola could end up being just a tad contrived, but it was so beautifully written, by the time Todd had really crawled under my skin, you felt every little awkward nuance and realisation with him. Just such brilliant simmering tension. It just bloody well better come to fruition at some point....

And the voice! Very distinct. You never forget that Todd is just a kid. And a very sheltered one at that. His journey and his reactions stay true to his character completely. He is stubborn and frustrated with his situation (not entirely unreasonably, I might add). Originally, the style wasn't as seamless as I would have hoped, but it just grew into the story and helped me fall in love with our protagonist that little bit more.

The plot is ever so slightly genius. Being able to hear other folks thoughts - a conceit that could so easily produce many gaping plot holes and fall straight down them, but no, not even the whiff of a plot hole. Not even the murmuring of the NOISE of a plot hole. Ok, ok, I have just one question - if it is so important that Todd becomes a man, why do they choose to have thirteen months in a year which just prolongs the process? PLEASE answer this question in the sequels I am yet to read, thank you.

So many big themes here - religion, the grass isn't always greener, what maketh the man. Let me just say, food for thought indeed.

Anyway, you might have guessed that I adored this. You'd be correct in this assumption. I hereby solemnly swear to read more dystopian YA in the future...

1 comment:

  1. One of my favourite ever books, I love it when other people like it too. And I agree, it's a very beautifully packaged book!