The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness

Posted 18 February, 2011 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 30 Comments

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Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Published: 2008 Pages: 479
Genre: Fiction (Young Adult); Sci-Fi?
Rating: 2.5/5

The Knife of Never Letting Go follows twelve year old Todd Hewitt who is about to become a man within his society. Once a boy turns thirteen in Prentisstown–a town absent of women due to a germ that killed them all–something happens to push them over the brink of boyhood into manhood. Right before his birthday, Todd witnesses something just outside his village that changes the plans for him and he is forced to flee Prentisstown. One thing about Prentisstown? Everyone can hear the thoughts of everyone else in a jumble of words called Noise.

I hate this—writing this post—because everyone seems to have really loved The Chaos Walking series, including The Knife of Never Letting Go, which is the first in the series. I have seen a few other lukewarm reviews, but the overwhelming consensus seems to be that this book and series is awesome. If you’re interested, please check out Google Book Blogs Search for more thoughts.

Why I read this book: I picked this one up after seeing several rave reviews in a row. I had heard about its emotional pull—and I’m a sucker for books that can make me cry.

Thoughts in general: I started off really liking this book. I was intrigued by the premise and really wanted to figure out what was going on in the novel. Part of me thinks my “eh” feeling for the book is just me. Perhaps it’s because I read this book over a course of a month and couldn’t really get sucked into the story properly? Or maybe it’s because the mystery seemed to be too dragged out for way too long? Or maybe just a bad month for reading (also read and was “eh” about True Grit). Bloggers love this book, so if nothing else *I* feel like the failure!

Where things went wrong for me: Instead of going on and on about the book, I’ll try to keep this brief and short (I’ve noticed my reviews are getting pretty lengthy and rambly lately!).
*characters that just wouldn’t die
*phonetic spellings of words Todd didn’t know how to spell (see last quote below)
*a mystery that was too mysterious for too long
*lack of emotion within the characters (not always, but sometimes)
*one chase scene after another after another
*too much repetition (length of the novel could have been cut significantly)

I’m sure there are other things as well, but it’s been a few weeks since I finished. In short, I closed the book having no desire to continue with the series. I hate that! This book does ask some great questions and bring up some important themes, but unfortunately the way the novel was executed just didn’t work for me. Oh, and for the record–I didn’t cry. I found some parts really sad, but no tears for this gal.

Some parts I liked and dogeared:
“Men’s minds are messy places and Noise is like the active, breathing face of that mess. It’s what’s true and what’s believed and what’s imagined and what’s fantastized and it says one thing and even tho the truth is definitely in there, how can you tell what’s true and what’s not when yer getting everything” (42).

“As long as I hold it, as long as I use it, the knife lives, lives in order to take life, but it has to be commanded, it has to have me tell it to kill, and it wants to, it wants to plunge and thrust and cut and stab and gouge, but I have to want it to as well, my will has to join with its will” (341).

“‘Everything on this planet talks to each other,’ he says. ‘Everything. That’s what New World is. Informayshun, all the time, never stopping, whether you want it to or not. The Spackle [aliens] knew it, evolved to live with it, but we weren’t equipped for it. Not even close. And too much informayshun can drive a man mad. Too much informayshun becomes just Noise. And it never never stops” (391).

Have you read this book? Why did you like it or not like it?

Do you ever feel like a failure because everyone loved a book but you? Which book?

Happy Friday!! Hope you all have a fabulous weekend.

30 Responses to “The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness”

  1. This one didn’t make me cry either. I’ve noticed, though, that only those people who cry hard at that one particular scene (you can probably guess which one) are the ones who adore this book. Since that scene had no affect on me at all, it just felt like the rest of the book, which I said in my review felt like a single really long car chase scene (yeah I fall asleep during them too). I don’t think it’s just you, Trish. I DID allow myself to get sucked into the story and read it really fast, and at the end I just felt exhausted and slightly sick. Reading fast certainly didn’t help me to become more emotionally attached.

  2. I hate when that happens! I too feel like there’s something wrong with me.

    Three books come to mind–The Handmaid’s Tale, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and The Turn of the Screw.

    I’ve also seen rave reviews for this everywhere, but now I’m a little hesitant to pick it up. Thanks for your honesty.

  3. Not every book works for every person… there have definitely been some books that everybody and their grandmother loves (Fingersmith and The Thief are the first two that come to mind) that I was decidedly “meh” about.

    I also think you did a good job explaining why this one didn’t work for you. I really liked this book, but I agree with your first bullet point, and I definitely noticed #2 and #3, although for some reason they didn’t bother me in this book as much as they normally do.

  4. LOL looking at the other two comments above, it looks like I’m often in agreement being on the negative side of books. I disliked The Handmaid’s Tale, The Time Traveler’s Wife, AND Fingersmith… :D

  5. I loved this book, but I totally can relate to feeling intimidated about posting a negative review of a book everyone loves. I always feel too like it’s ME!

  6. I loved the book and cried at a certain scene! It doesn’t matter that you didn’t love it. It really isn’t for everyone.

  7. Oh Trish, you silly girl…you should *not* let not enjoying a book make you feel like a failure! Face it, NO book is for everyone, that’s just a fact of life.

  8. I’ve really never been interested in this one except that so many bloggers love it. Now I feel like it’s okay if I decide not to read it, LOL!

  9. I do plan to give this book a try one of these days. I’m reading it for an online book group later this year.

    I have read books that others have loved and yet I’ve been disappointed in. One Hundred Years of Solitude is the first title that pops up in my head. While I enjoyed parts of it, I came away from the book feeling like I missed the whole point of the book. So many people love it, but it totally missed the mark for me.

  10. cj

    I have no intention or desire to read this or any of the others, Trish. All those glowing reviews aside, it doesn’t seem like a book I want to read, so you’re ahead of me there.

    Books are individual experiences, my dear. It’s a good thing we don’t all like the same thing.


  11. Amy

    The things you didn’t like this book are the same things I didn’t like, I think, perhaps, they bothered you more than they bothered me? Also I had a bit of a believability issue with the premise.

    Another book that I DNF but still consider going back to that is highly loved an acclaimed is Tender Morsels. Books like these, make me feel like I’m not cool enough if I don’t like them. :)

  12. I haven’t read it and am not really planning to. I know what you mean about not liking a book that everyone else does, but not every book is for everyone. Sometimes, too, I think it’s the mood I’m in when I read it or how much I’ve heard about it beforehand that effects my enjoyment.

  13. *Amanda – Interesting about the crying scene. I thought it was sad but by that point I was already kind of over the book. :( I wish that there was more “down time” in the book–it always baffles Scott when I fall asleep during the action scenes of a movie, but it gets to a point where they’re all the same and all more or less predictable.

    *Kristi – I remember the first less than glowing review I read for this one and I really appreciated the balance. Sometimes when everyone *loves* a book it just sets it up for failure?

    *Fyrefly – It’s funny because the mystery portion is what drew me into the book intially but it was too mysterious for too long. Guessing you finished the book already?! Looking forward to your thoughts.

    *Amanda – Nah–I think sometimes the good reviews just overwhelm the negative or lukewarm ones? I also think that with time, more of the lukewarm thoughts start coming up–after the book has time to cool down from popularity?? Who knows!

    *Rhapsody – It’s hard not to think that it’s a personal problem when you don’t like a book everyone else does, huh? Always makes me wonder what I’ve been missing!

    *Vivienne – I know which scene you’re talking about, but I think by that point I was already a bit detached from the story. I’m glad you loved it!

    *Kathy – It wasn’t an ending but sadly I don’t have much desire to read the ending! Have you continued in the series?

    *Christina – I didn’t mention this in the review but the talking dog did NOT bother me, if that helps at all. Typically it would but the dog was still so “dog” that it wasn’t like a human dog. If that makes sense?

    *Debi – Oh I know. But after you and Chris and Ana loved it so much. I wanted to love it too!!! :) I do think part of it was just bad timing.

    *Jenny – Or, if you do decide to read it, maybe get a copy from the library? ;) Unfortunately it didn’t have much to offer me–I wanted something more.

    *Lit Feline – I hope you that are in the “this is great” camp!! I felt much the same way about One Hundred Years of Solitude. I wanted to like it so much but didn’t quite understand it. Too many characters with the same name. ;) I did really like The House of the Spirits by Allende, though–which in many ways is similar. Have you read that one?

    *CJ – And I do love that books are individual experiences. I think it’s important. But it’s always disappointing when you *want* to love a book like everyone else did!

    *Amy – The more time that goes past, the more “eh” I feel about this book. I think if I had written my review closer to finishing the book it might be a little more positive. I haven’t read Tender Morsels, but you’re right–I have heard fantastic things about it! ;)

    *Carolsnotebook – I definitely think that mood and timing plays a huge role in liking a book! lately I’ve only been reading 10 pages of a book here and there and it’s just not a good way to read.

  14. I have this from the library, but Mike isn’t interested and from your last quote I don’t think I am either. Spelling like that would kill the book for me.

  15. I have never heard of this book. Sounds interesting. Although I am not sure how I feel about being inside a 12 year old boys mind. :)

  16. I really hated this book, but I picked up the second book anyway…not expecting to even like it, to even care…and the second book ended up being one of my best books ever. I’ve never gone back to reread the first one to see if it was just a mood thing for me–or if the author just “got better”.

  17. I might be the lone person in the world who didn’t even finish the book. I couldn’t get past the dog saying “Poo, Todd. Poo.”

  18. I also was a bit ambivalent about this book. I loved some of the ideas in it but a book among similar lines which I liked much better was The Crysalids by John Windham, a book from the 1950s.

    I might read the next in the series if it happens to fall into my hands but I’m not going out of my way to get it.

  19. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with you not enjoying a book that everyone else “seems” to love. I personally like to read a variety of reviews both positive and negative. I’ve got this one on my TBR list and am interested to see how I will feel after reading it. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion ;)

  20. I’ve had this feeling a lot lately! Usually I know it’s because of the mood I’m in that I didn’t like one book or another though. If that’s the case then I refuse to review it. I haven’t read this one but you’re right, it’s rare to see even a lukewarm review for it.

  21. I say blame it on baby. :-) I remember feeling frustrated because I wasn’t loving what I was reading at all, everything was just ok. :-) Plus not all books are for everyone!

  22. *Laura H – The book started off well for me but when it was just the same thing every time I picked it up, I lost interest. Sorry you felt the same. :(

    *Lisa – Ya, I didn’t understand the whole phonetic thing. There’s also a lot of “yer” but that didn’t bother me as much as the blantant misspellings.

    *Bermuda – It’s interesting to see how divided people are–seems from the comments people either love it or don’t!

    *Michelle – Ha! Luckily he’s not a typical boy thinking about typical things. ;) The book has gotten great reviews–so you might like it!

    *Trisha – I hate when everyone loves a book and I want to as well! ;) Ah well.

    *Becky – So I’m curious why you picked up the second book after hating the first book!! But now you have me curious about contining. Wonder if I can find it on audio?

    *Softdrink – Hahaha! Yes, “Poo, Todd. Poo” was kind of a turn-off.

    *Leeswammes – I’ll have to look up The Crysalids! I agree that the premise had a lot of promise–I just didn’t care for the execution.

    *Samantha – I hope you like this one, Sam! It has gotten really great reviews–maybe I just didn’t jump on the train quick enough.

    *Ladytink – Interesting about not reviewing the book if you feel mood plays a roll! I actually pondered that on Twitter while I was drafting this review and everyone convinced me to go ahead with the review. Like you I was reluctant to post because of mood.

    *joanna – I think baby might have a part in my dislike. Work has been really busy so I’ve only been reading 10 pages here and there and not even every day. Kind of hard to really get into a book under those conditions!! Is it wishful thinking to hope I’ll get more reading done during my maternity leave? ;)

  23. Ok I didn’t read your review, because I really don’t want to know anything about the book before I read it in…April, I think it is. But my skimming gave me the sense you didn’t love it, which I’m glad to hear! I never trust books that are unanimously loved or hated. :-)

  24. Aw there is nothing wrong with you baby girl! There have been quite a few books that I disliked or didn’t get and people just gushed over. I appreciate your honesty :)

  25. I can’t think of anything I don’t like about this book. But I can understand why it doesn’t work for some people.
    I do feel a bit disappointed when I don’t share the same enthusiasm about a book everyone loves, mainly because I feel like a missed something. But then I get over pretty quickly. The best cure is to find a book you really love next :)