Published May 5th 2008 by Walker
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: Young adult, Fantasy, Dystopia/Sci-fi
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say.”
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