The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness – Book Review

Hello Humans! I don’t often find myself thinking about the font in which my current read is written. It’s not something that crosses my mind. In fact, the only time I really stop to look at it is when books have an ‘about the typeface’ note in them (does anyone know why they put that in? Is the font copyrighted or is there another historic reason – let me know). But in The Knife of Never Letting Go font becomes incredibly important as a means of conveying the thoughts of the characters, which are being broadcast to everyone in the vicinity. It’s my absolute worst nightmare – but it makes for a great book!

the knife of never letting go

Goodreads Summary:

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?

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This is a YA title, with a male protagonist, in a setting where all the women are dead. Now, normally that spells disaster for me. I’m having vivid flashbacks to Eve of Man and how irritating that was. But this book manages to do this in a way that isn’t plagued with masculinity. The way the story unfolds is far more about Todd’s character development in general than just being about how Todd had never seen a girl. Women are neither put on a pedestal nor relegated to the scrap heap in this story and it was just what I needed. I very rarely get on with male protagonists in YA, which is of course just a matter of preference, but Todd was surprisingly relatable to read.

It did help that he had a dog. There may come a time when the talking animal sidekick is not my favourite character in something, and on that day you should probably start to worry that some parasitic alien has taken over my faculties. Manchee is a wonderful little dog and I would gladly have read this entire book from Manchee’s perspective.

The story is set on a planet that has been partially colonised by humans. This was an interesting angle to take for a dystopian setting as so often Earth is the focus of this kind of story. It was quite powerful to consider that, even with a chance to start over on a new planet, humans would make a mess of things in all kinds of ways. You don’t always get the sense that you are on another planet, the book almost lulls you into a false sense of security before slapping you with enormous cattle or something equally weird and just like that you remember you’re somewhere totally new. It’s disorientating and it most certainly works.

Why did I start this review talking about fonts? Because the way this book represents things that are thought as opposed to said (or the ‘noise’ of an individual) is through using different fonts. I’d be interested to know how this affects readers with dyslexia or similar, however, it is quite an effective technique in this story.

This book reminded me a lot of a new release The Book of M. That’s actually an adult dystopian novel, but there were some similarities. Both are focussed on a society that changed drastically quite suddenly and both involve a journey into the unfamiliar. That’s not wholly relevant to this review but worth noting that if you enjoyed one, you may enjoy the other.

I very much enjoyed this story. It wasn’t quite wow-worthy enough to get my five-star rating but I did have a wonderful time reading it and will certainly be picking up the later books in the chaos walking series as soon as my bank balance and my bookshelves allow!

My rating: 4/5 stars

All opinions are my own

What say you? Have you read any of the books in this series? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!


6 thoughts on “The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness – Book Review

Add yours

  1. Okay I am SO, SO excited you read this. This series is hands down one of my favourites of all time (although I’ve not read it since I was 12). It’s fricking phenomenal, it made me cry so much, and it’s just so original and unique. Like…it crosses so many genre boundaries. It’s technically sci-fi but reads more contemporary as you barely feel the sci-finess, and I didn’t realise it was on another planet until book 2 I think! And the whole thing with noise? And the adorableness of dog? URGH I could rave about it forever.

    Todd is SUCH a good character, I fully agree that despite the main premise being a tropey gender thing, the entire series depicts masculinity and gender in such an intelligent, nuanced and healthy way. I literally have nothing bad to say about this series. Just you wait until they meet the aliens 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sound so interesting! I’ve been interested in another one of Patrick Ness’ books for the past couple weeks, and I think I’m going to read it. It’s called Name of the Wind? I don’t’ know, I’ve heard really good things about it, and are eager to try it out. Great post!


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