Thursday, August 22, 2013

Teen/YA Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go

My son and my husband both raved about the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness, so I finally found time to read Book 1: The Knife of Never Letting Go as part of my Big BookSummer Challenge last month. Though this unique series has been marketed as teen/YA fiction, it seems to be loved just as much by adult readers. I enjoyed it so much that I started reading Book 2: The Ask and the Answer this week.

I am going to tread lightly with plot description here because it’s obvious the author intended for the novel’s secrets to be gradually discovered by readers. Todd is a boy just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. He lives in a society where everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts, creating a continuous stream of Noise. Though Todd is an orphan, he has had a decent life, brought up by two close family friends who care for him.

One day, Todd and his dog, Manchee (whose thoughts Todd can also hear), encounter an odd patch of silence on the edge of town.  This strange discovery leads to the uncovering of some dark secrets that have been kept from Todd, in spite of the Noise. Certain people in town are so committed to keeping the town’s secrets that they go after Todd, forcing him and Manchee into life on the run, leaving his little town for the first time in his life.

This novel is full of action and adventure, as the bad guys chase after Todd and Manchee and a friend they meet along the way. It’s an unusual mix of science fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, and even some dystopia. And through it all, the Noise adds a unique element. Can you imagine a world where you know what everyone else is thinking?

I loved this book just as much as my husband and son did. Todd is a very likeable character, and Manchee provides a touch of humor, with his doggie thoughts being constantly broadcast to Todd. Although it is a longish book at almost 500 pages (hence its inclusion in my Big Book Summer plans), it is a fairly quick read, with a fast pace and plenty of suspense to keep you reading long past bedtime. So far, Book 2: The Ask and the Answer is just as good.

479 pages, Candlewick Press


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