The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book in a dystopian, young adult trilogy, centring around protagonist Todd. It is extremely fast-paced and gritty, while also dealing with important social issues. In Prentisstown, a town full of men, everyone can hear each other’s thoughts. This constant ‘Noise’ was caused by a virus released in a war before Todd was born, a virus which supposedly also killed all women. When Todd stumbles across a spot of complete silence on the outskirts of Prentisstown and meets a strange, unfamiliar creature – a girl – he is forced to flee for his life with his loyal dog Manchee, and question everything he was once told.
One of my favourite aspects of the book was its narrative style; the novel is told from Todd’s point of view, as though we are constantly hearing his Noise. His grammar and spelling is frequently incorrect, and his strong dialect permeates both his speech and thoughts. This really gave me a sense of Todd, making him a distinct and genuine character. On top of this, parts of the text appeared written down, as if scribbled. I loved this fun, more visual element of the book; it was highly effective in adding to the chaos and the volume of Noise, and was also quite scary at times.
The plot of the book was immediately intriguing. The prospect of a biological weapon that causes men’s thoughts to be revealed to those around them is terrifying but also interesting; while reading I was constantly asking questions. I was also asking many other questions throughout, concerning the history of the world and what lies Todd had been told concerning it. The novel also highlighted and commented on interesting social issues, through themes of gender politics and religious domination, which I really appreciated in a young adult novel.
I found Todd to be such a lovable character. On the verge of manhood, he consistently attempts to be brave and resilient, yet he is still scared and lonely in understandable ways. His growing relationships with his dog, Manchee, and the girl, Viola, were also particularly touching. The three characters are faced with many terrifying and testing situations as they flee the dangerous men following them, and through dealing with them together and helping each other, they formed bonds that were deep and heartfelt. Patrick Ness made me care for his characters, and I truly rooted for them from start to finish.
This was a great book, and while it may have felt like not much was happening at times and that there is much left to be answered, it was a great setup for the rest of the trilogy. It was full of highs and lows, hope and heartbreak, and I loved following Todd’s journey so far.