Monday, October 5, 2009
Patrick Ness/THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO
Part 1 of this novel is a dystopian masterpiece.
Todd lives in a run-down colony where everyone's thoughts can be heard by everyone else as never-stopping "Noise." One day Todd's out exploring with his dog (whose thoughts can also be heard and mostly consist of "Poo, need to poo.") when he discovers a sort of gap in the Noise--a spot of silence. This discovery prompts his caretakers to tell him to flee and never come back. Todd gets no explanation as to why he is suddenly in danger but is given a map, a journal, and a knife.
The rest of the novel peters out from there. Many people disagree with me about this, but quite a few agree: the plot is wearying. It involves Todd running, running, running from his pursuers, the evil men who run the colony he has left. He fights the main antagonist so many times that by the end of the novel the evil man barely has any skin left on his face. And the entire time Todd is trying to escape, we don't know why he's being chased. The answer, we assume, is in the journal Todd carries with him. But Todd can't read very well, and he will not let even his most trusted friends read the journal to him. Todd is told snatches of secrets by a few different characters during the course of the book--but we are never allowed to hear these hints.
When I got to the end of the novel, I didn't find the reason for the pursuit believable. I had pretty much guessed the other secrets, so they no longer had any punch to them. Plus, I was annoyed at being left in the dark and at the repetition of the chase. To top it off, there isn't actually an end to this novel--we're left at a cliffhanger that leads into the second book, The Ask and the Answer (which is out now).
However, a lot of people are praising the socks off this novel, so I would love for you all to give it a read and let me know what you think. Did you find the chase more exciting than I did? Were the secrets more interesting to you? I think this author has some unbelievable talent. His manipulation of language and his dark themes remind me a little bit of Riddley Walker. Ness has some unique ideas and Knife's premise is certainly relevant in a era over-loaded with information. I just wish I had enjoyed the rest of the novel as much as I did Part 1.