The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy – yet another dystopian series. When the books first came on my radar, I rolled my eyes at them and put them right out of my mind.
And then the positive reviews on all three books in my WordPress blog feed. This is quite rare for a trilogy, usually my enthusiasm dies down when it comes to the second or third book (thinking of that Tearling series, or the Divergent series). And these positive reviews from some very critical bloggers helped me make up my mind.
I bought all three books in a second-hand book last year and finished the first and second books (The Knife of Never Letting go and The Ask and the Answer) over the weekend, and now I am zipping through the final one – Monsters of Men.
What it’s about
Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.
But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?
~ Synopsis from goodreads
It’s still a little hard for me to explain all that this book is even though I finished it a few days ago. I always have enjoyed reading stories that are not a cookie cutter genre novel and this one certainly breaks the YA mold in many ways – such as, no sappy romance or love triangle (at least not in this book).
However, I did have a hard time getting into this book in the beginning. I started and stopped it multiple times. I don’t know why – maybe because the beginning seemed to drag a bit, maybe the incorrect grammar, or the weird writing style (more about this further along). Maybe I wasn’t in the mood. I don’t know. However, there were many bloggers who had urged me to read this book, and so I persevered. And once I got over the initial hump, I just read it flat out in a single day. The book was that good!
What I loved about the book is that everything just seemed so fresh. The novel setting is very unique and Ness unpacks this world bit by bit maintaining my interest in the world-building throughout the book.
I also loved the unrelenting suspense. The book almost in its entirety is the story of Todd and Viola as they flee the dangers of Todd’s village toward the promise of a town called Haven. Normally a book just about their flight would be pretty boring. But Ness uses this as a great opportunity to introduce us to his world, and the characters within it. Even while facing terrible and incredibly sad situations, Todd and Viola’s journey unveils some great world-building.
I don’t want to give too many details about this world and spoil it for you as I think it is more fun to go in blind and have the book surprise you.
The main characters – Todd and Viola are great too. They start off distrusting each other, slowly learn to open up, and by the end of the book are fast friends and allies. So far into the series (I am already midway through book 2), there is no romance. Although Todd and Viola really care deeply for each other, there is no time for romance, and I am really glad that Ness keeps the focus solely on the plot. I loved that there was no insta-love, no romantic worries, nothing – these two kids have a lot more on their minds.
Another bonus is the red-hot action – there’s something happening every minute, and the pace of the book is relentless.
The only thing that bothered me a bit is the tense writing style. I”ll be honest – it worked well in this book, but as I get into Monsters of Men, I find I am getting a little tired of it.
Ness uses short bursts of sentences or thoughts with a lot of repetition. Here’s an example:
And I know I’ve lost.
Everything is lost.
Everything is over.
“As the newly appointed President of this fair planet of ours,” the Mayor says, holding out his hands as if to show me the world for the first time,” let me be the very first to welcome you to its new capital city.”
“Todd?” Viola whispers, her eyes closed.
I hold her tightly to me.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper to her. “I’m so sorry.”
We’ve run right into a trap.
We’ve run right off the end of the world.
“Welcome,” says the Mayor,” to the New Prentisstown.
I am not saying the entire book is like this, but quite a bit of it is. It took time for me to get used to it. And overall it worked well. But since I am reading these books back-to-back, it feels tired and overdone by the third book. This is a review of only the first book in the trilogy, so I am just putting this info out there without dwelling too much on it.
In spite of my discomfort with the writing style, I could still zip through the book, and was vested enough (a killer of a cliffhanger) to pick The Ask and the Answer immediately. So, I’d definitely recommend this book for any lovers of dystopia or YA.
You can also buy a copy of this book from Amazon.