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

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Audio Read By: Humphrey Bower
Genre: YA/dystopian
Date Read: 20/11/2015 – 25/11/2015
Rating: ★★★★


knifecoverI had this book on my GoodReads TBR for ages, then took it off during a clean-up (every now and then I go through it and weed out the books I’m no longer interested in). However, after listening to A Monster Calls (see yesterday’s review), I decided to give the audio version of this a ago as well.

Wow. It was intense. And difficult to describe, but I’ll give it a go.

Todd Hewitt lives in Prentisstown, one of the settlements on New World, a place where everyone can hear the thoughts of men, thanks to the Noise Germ. As far as Todd knows, the Noise Germ also killed all the female settlers, and Prentisstown is home to just 147 men (my number may be wrong, but it was around there somewhere). But just a month before his 13th birthday, Todd hears a gap in the Noise, which turns out to be a girl named Viola Eade, and this kickstarts a chain of events that lead to him having to run away from Prentisstown, an army hot on his heels.

Todd and Viola are probably up there with my favourite characters ever. They’re both stubborn, and somewhat fixed in their ways, but damn are they loyal to one another. Todd is basically illiterate (he can recognise letters, but putting them together to read words on a page is incredibly difficult), and a simple farm boy; for various reasons that I won’t spoil here, Viola has a much better education, and is also rather tech-savvy (there wasn’t much in the way of technology in Prentisstown), but is in a very unfamiliar place and dealing with a lot of awful things in a short space of time. Due to these circumstances, she and Todd sometimes clash, particularly early on, but they’ve only got each other. They save each other’s lives more than once, developing an incredible bond, the likes of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a YA series before.

The pace is very fast, and there is a lot of action. Patrick Ness does not hold back – there is a lot of violence and it is vividly described. Also, if violence towards animals will bother you – you should probably skip this one. I won’t say any more, but you should bear that in mind. The book is quite long, and sometimes repetitive, but for the most part, it held my interest entirely. I did find the villain, Aaron, a little bit comical. He tracks Todd and Viola doggedly, and always seems to be screaming “Toodddd Hewwwwitttt!” and bearing more injuries than any normal person could actually withstand without dying. Many chapters end with “Oh, no, Aaron has appeared again!” to the point where I was calling it beforehand and rolling my eyes when he made another appearance.

While the cover image I’ve got up there is for the Candlewick audio, I actually listened to the Bolinda version read by Australian actor/voice artist Humphrey Bower. He used a working class English accent that was perfect for Todd and the other inhabitants of Prentisstown. I have learned since finishing the book that in the printed version, many of the words are spelled phonetically (which makes sense with Todd’s illiteracy), the Noise is depicted in different fonts, and there are often pages with only a few words per line, or only a few sentences per page (which I guess is probably a good visual representation of the Noise). When I first heard about this, I thought it might have put me off, but I have since decided I’m going to check out the print versions as well. It sounds just as unique as the rest of the book.

Come back next Friday/Saturday for my reviews of The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men, the second and third books in the trilogy.


5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

  1. Claire | Art and Soul says:

    Indestructible Aaron does become slightly ridiculous. I started to react to his unrelenting pursuit of Todd the way I did to Javert being after Jean Valjean in Les Mis: “Oh for f**k’s sake! Just leave him alone and get a life!” Looking forward to the next 2 reviews 🙂


    • Emily Witt says:

      Haha, yes! He is exactly like Javert! I get why the army was moving towards them, but surely Aaron should have reached an eventual “Well, he’s either going to kill or be killed eventually, I really don’t need to pursue this anymore” conclusion.

      Liked by 1 person

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