The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) – Patrick Ness

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Published May 5th 2008 by Walker
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: Young adult, Fantasy, Dystopia/Sci-fi
Pages: 479
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Opening line:

“The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say.”

Goodreads synopsis:

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?

Ever since I heard about the Chaos Walking series I have wanted to read it. This want got even stronger once I started reading other Patrick Ness books. He fast became one of my favourite YA authors. His writing is clever, engaging, addictive, well-written, imaginative yet still easy to read. His books are everything you want from and author…and more? YES now that I’ve read the first of the Chaos Walking series, I can safely say that Patrick Ness is all the things listed and much more besides!

This is one of those books that you know most people in the book/YA community have read, and you’re late to the party BUT you read it and you still feel like you’ve discovered treasure. I wanted to scream and shout about it, but of course they already know.

I was so taken in by the narrator, Todd Hewitt, and the world he inhabits, that it was just me and the book and the characters. Like the book was the only one around, and I was the only one reading it. That’s the best I can do to describe my experience of this book from START TO FINISH.

And not only that…let’s talk about the Noise. This book incorporates the Noise into the narrative with a handwriting-like font. You turn the page, and you see the black writing and you’re immediately hooked…reading on…whose Noise is that? The whole concept of this dystopian world is incredible and perfectly executed by Ness. I can’t say I was even remotely disappointed, but I expected more Noise on the page, other than that I got complete reading pleasure out of this and some very intense, edge-of-my-seat moments.

I won’t include spoilers, but something that is apparent from the outset is the lack of women in Prentisstown, and the way men think about women. Now, without giving too much away, there are women in this book, so don’t be put off. Recently, I have been contributing to a discussion about female characters in YA fiction. You can read some of my points in my review of The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily. If you want the opinion of a fellow book blogger on female narrators/characters in YA fiction, then see her blog Read and Seek, and read her posts here and here.

Well I’d like to announce that I was  mostly satisfied and happy with the female characters in this book. Especially Viola. She started off with no voice at all, and just grew from there. Although Todd is the main character and our charming and characterful narrator, she is just as important. She’s not afraid to tell Todd how it is, and in some cases she was stronger than him mentally. And what’s more, the respect she receives from Todd just increases as the book goes on, and this makes me like him more too. They are both very endearing for different reasons, but as a pair of main characters they are a perfect match. I wish we got more of Viola’s background, but knowing Ness, that will come in the next two books.

But just to illustrate how women are treated in the world of the book, here are a couple of quotes from Viola herself (I’ve edited out any potential spoilers):

“They [women] clean and they cook and they make babies and they all live in a big dormitory outside of town where they can’t interfere in men’s business.”

“They wouldn’t listen to me. Not one thing. (…) They kept calling me little girl and practically patting me on the bloody head.”

This representation of women, I believe, is taken to the extreme as a way of highlighting how unbelievable it is that women were ever treated like that. And of course women in some cultures are still treated in such a way. A way of life that finds itself here in a DYSTOPIAN SETTING. I’ll just leave that there.

The ending. Wow. The last few chapters really had me getting tense. Nothing could have made me put this book down. The ending almost commands me to start reading the next book immediately, but I think I’m going to have to refrain. I have so many other books I want to read first, but I’m looking forward to the rest of this series! I’m too emotionally invested at this point not to anticipate what’s to come!

If I could give this book more than five stars, I would.

Link to the book on Goodreads: The Knife of Never Letting Go 

jade

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6 comments

  1. Jade. I enjoyed this post IMMENSELY! I’m quite a fan of Patrick Ness myself and I’ve been meaning to read this series for such a long time! After reading your post I am even more intrigued and I will definitely make a plan to read it soon.

    I’m fascinated by what you’ve picked up in this book, especially the part where you say: “This representation of women, I believe, is taken to the extreme as a way of highlighting how unbelievable it is that women were ever treated like that.”. That is such an interesting point that you make here and I think it’s awesome that you saw it from that angle (I understand what you meant when you spoke about seeing it in a different light!!) It’s even more lovely to hear that despite this representation of women, the lead female character still grows and plays a crucial part in the story.

    Ever since we got to talking about this matter I’ve been feeling rather psyched to get out and find books that show women in a positive light and to share more of my thoughts on this matter. So thank you for linking me – it feels good to keep the discussion going and to give people something to think about.

    I look forward to keeping this talk alive 🙂

    Happy New Year 🙂

    Nihaad – Read & Seek.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! This makes me so happy to have written this review the way I did, and I have you to thank for being a part of this ongoing discussion. I want other people to be able to read our various posts on the topic, and it’s helping me become more understanding about this area as well.

      Although I’ve only read the first book, I know this is going to become a favourite series, and I’m glad I’ve made you interested and intrigued! 😊 if you do read this book soon then I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it. We’ll definitely keep this discussion going.

      Have a wonderful new year ❤

      Jade

      Liked by 1 person

      • And I have you to thank 🙂 After your very first comment over on my blog it really gave me the push I needed to get that post published! I always thought it was just in my imagination! It’s bittersweet that it’s not just me who feels this way about the matter :/

        It’s important that we educate ourselves on the matter, and the more we learn the more we can share our views with others. A lot of debut authors can use this to write books that shine a more positive light on female characters.

        I will be sure to keep you linked in my posts as well – I am going to be exploring this issue more in depth and would love to keep you involved 🙂

        Thank you once again 🙂 I hope you’ve had a wonderful New Years Xo

        Liked by 1 person

      • Great use of the word bittersweet! I know exactly what you mean. It’s useful for me to think more about this issue in terms of my own writing as well. I think pretty much all of my writing projects have make narrators or male main characters. Although I have significant female characters too and I know for sure they aren’t stereotypical because it’s just not in my nature to write them that way.

        I’m looking forward to future posts on this subject 😊

        Hope your New Year has been a wonderful one too! Xx

        Like

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