Monday, April 16, 2012

Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker & Company
Release Date: May 5, 2008
Rating: 1/5

Cover Impressions:  This cover looks rather primitive, as if it was gleaned from a cave drawing.  I don't find it particularly eye catching but I can see where it would appeal to an audience of teenage boys

The Gist: Todd has grown up in Prentisstown; a town full of men who spend their lives surrounded by the Noise of each and every person's thoughts.  Just a month shy of becoming a man, he stumbles upon a patch of silence - something he has never encountered before, and the secret forces him to run from the people who know his every thought.

Review: I had saved this novel for a time when I just had to read something great.  It has wonderful reviews and has won several award so I thought it was a safe bet.  I never dreamed how wrong I could be.  I was angry and frustrated for most of this book.  I spent my time yelling at the characters and cursing the writer.  This was not an enjoyable experience.  

First of all, I did not care one lick for either of the characters.  In fact, I actively despised Todd.  I hated the way he spoke, I hated his actions, I hated the fact that he did not demand answers, because lord knows the author was not going to provide any.  I don't mind novels that ration information, handing it out a tidbit at a time like Charlie nibbling on a scrumdiddlyumptious bar, but this novel gives no tidbits.  Instead, it infuriates with lines like "it is time you knew the truth" followed by either and adult telling the kids to wait or something trying to kill them (something is ALWAYS trying to kill them - see below).  Perhaps, since Todd cannot seem to spell Information, Ness decided that he didn't need to have any.
I realize that the author made a conscious choice to use misspelling and poor grammar to allow the reader further insight into the mind of the main character.  However, I do not care.  I hated it.  I cringed at every "aint" and "shun".  I wanted to plant Todd in my English classroom and teach him how to speak so that he doesn't sound like a bumbling idiot. I couldn't concentrate on the story because every time he opened his mouth the evil teacher in my mind kept correcting him.  Ness also chose to use repetition and short choppy sentence, one would assume, in an effort to make the novel more exciting.  It drove me nuts.  Passages like this:

And she lets go of me-
And I jump across-
And I'm in the air-
And the edge of the falls is shooting over my head-
And I land-
And I turn-
And she's jumping after me-
And I grab her and we fall backwards onto the ledge together-
And we lay there breathing-
And listening- 
And all we hear for a second is the roar of the water over us now-

He employs this strategy over and over, sometimes for pages at a time.  That's right, I said PAGES!  This writing style annoyed me to the point where I really wanted to stop.  Yet I pressed on, I had hope that there would be some twist or scene that would make it all worthwhile.  I mean, something had to make all these people like it, right?

Speaking of Hope.  If the only thing keeping the characters going is hope, how about you give me some?  These characters were attacked at every point.  They never got a chance to rest before one of the main villians (one of which REFUSES TO DIE LIKE A PROPER HUMAN BEING) shows up and trounces them.  The attackers have brute force, horses and guns.  Our MC has ... a knife.... which he refuses to use.  Also, you would think, at one of their stops on this journey they MIGHT have picked up a weapon for Viola.  Fate (in the form of Patrick Ness' brutal pen) continues to pound on Todd and Viola until the untimely and unsatisfying cliffhanger ending.  

I will NOT be continuing on in this series. 

P.S Yes, of course I loved Manchee - and I hold Patrick Ness directly responsible for his treatment.

Teaching/Parental Notes:
Age: 15 and up
Gender: Both
Sex: None
Violence:  Knife play, gun play, death by stabbing, death of a pet
Inappropriate Language: Fuck, Whore
Substance Abuse:  None


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