The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy and is a thrilling, frightening and heart-wrenching dystopian novel. The story is told through the perspective of an illiterate twelve-year-old boy, Todd Hewitt, who lives in Prentisstown. Todd is the youngest boy in the town of only men, and everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in a constant overwhelming “Noise.” The Noise was caused by a germ that was released during a war when humanity first began to settle on this planet called New World.
As I first started reading, the story was a bit slow. However, it quickly picked up into one of exhilarating action and suspense. I thought that the perspective of Todd, as an illiterate teenager, was authentic and candid. The writing style was a first-person stream of consciousness. Many words were often spelt phonetically, and cleverly represented the way his Noise worked. This made it believable because it was as if you were also “hearing” Todd’s Noise, just like everyone else in Prentisstown.
Therefore, as Todd learns, so does the reader. In addition, there were some peculiar narrative techniques such as changes in the font as a visual portrayal of the Noise Todd was hearing, from both men and animals alike. I found the Noise of Todd’s dog Manchee particularly enjoyable, making him one of my favourite characters.
Todd was good and loyal and constantly heard how vengeful, deceitful and nasty men’s thoughts could be. His good heart was what made him different from everyone else. Throughout the story, Todd’s internal war was based on the need for survival and to protect the ones he cared for most. Todd’s perseverance was his greatest strength and I believe it made him an inspirational hero.
What I found interesting was the concept of the Noise. The Noise in The Knife of Never Letting Go is a thought-provoking interpretation of the way we are with technology today. We are constantly bombarded with information and sound, all of which manipulates the way we behave, and it has become increasingly difficult to find a spot of quiet. “Without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.” Being able to hear everyone’s thoughts, you would think that there would be no secrets. But Todd knows that even Noise can lie; and as the story progresses, Todd gradually learns that everything he thought he knew about his world was wrong.
The Knife of Never Letting Go toys with other issues such as colonisation, genocide, racism and sexism. However, these issues are brought to light in an easy to read prose that presents an incredibly unique plot and writing style. The story ended in a pivotal cliff-hanger that left me yearning to know what happens next. I would urge anyone to read The Knife of Never Letting Go, and I am looking forward to getting my hands on the rest of the series.
Reviewer: Emma Jackson
Walker Books, RRP $18.99