Sunday, 22 September 2013

Book Review - The Knife of Never Letting Go

The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Series: Chaos Walking #1
Genres: Science FictionDystopian | Young Adult
Release Date: April 2013
Publishers: Walker Books Ltd.
No. Pages: 478
Source: Donated
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?

I got my copy of this book from applying to be a World Book Night 2013 book giver and decided that since I hadn't read the book myself, that I would keep a copy and give it a go myself. From the synopsis, I expected some sort of horrifying world with lots of adventure and to say I was disappointed is quite an understatement. The introduction of a female character, although highly predictable, ruined how I felt about this book, and this wasn't the only problem I had with this book.

Much like other first books in trilogies, I completely understand that it focuses on setting scenes, introducing characters and setting up the plot and so on, but I was still pretty disappointed on how these features were dispersed across the book. I didn't like how much time was spent on the characters and how little was spent on the world building, considering that's what the synopsis focused so heavily on. The descriptions in the book were limited and only gave the basics in comparison to other books I'd read quite recently, and affected just how much I could imagine and envision, however, this could have been something very personal and nothing against the writing and Patrick Ness himself. The amount of travelling the characters endured only gave me more to dislike about this book, and the more they travelled, the more I began to disengage with the story and feel anything for the characters. Only within the last 60 pages did I really begin to feel anything, and remotely enjoy the story. However, I did like the style of writing the further the story progressed. It said a lot about our main character Todd and helped portray how much he learnt and how he thought throughout. The idea behind the plot was good, but sadly didn't make up for the world building, in my opinion.

I also felt quite conflicted when it came to the characters too. Too many random and unnecessary characters frustrate me and this book had a lot of them. The fact that animals and creatures in this book could talk only added to the amount, as those animals then became characters in their own right. There's only so many times you can read about sheep saying 'sheep' before it gets a little boring. However, I did like two characters especially, Viola and Manchee. Viola was a strong and independent character who didn't rely on Todd throughout the story; she actually proved she was intelligent and was worth the same, if not more than Todd, which really highlighted the difficulties women go through to be heard and respected in todays society and there's. Manchee however was my favourite hands down. He was a loyal friend towards Todd and was anything and everything Todd needed him to be. He was trustworthy and respectful and in the end, was so much more than just a talking dog. I appreciated what Patrick Ness did with Manchee, as I really began to understand the messages of sacrifice and friendship.

There were other smaller features I didn't like about this book, and the main of these were just how many unanswered questions I had once I'd reached the end of the book. Questions about the Army, Todd, the infamous book, these questions really frustrated me once I'd finished reading and they didn't help my mood any once I'd began to think about the review. In some cases, leaving unanswered questions encourages a reader to read the next installment, but in this case, it really hasn't, and neither did the predictable cliffhanger ending; it actually only increased my negative feelings towards this book, which was sad, as I don't enjoy disliking a book so much. Another feature I didn't like was Aaron. Just Aaron. His character was interesting, and I couldn't help but love his personality enough though it's such a strange one, but I really began to get pretty bored of his recurring appearances.

However, there were features of the book I did like. The reference of Noise and Silence being creatures themselves, and personifying them both really gave an edge to the story. It provide a great stage for the relationship building between both our main characters and probably was the most interesting part about the plot and the story. I also liked how young our main character, Todd, was. He was the first main character that I'd read about that was younger the age of 16, and this was a great change, as this meant there were less hormones in the air, less romance involved throughout and just a much better connection between both Viola and Todd. Another feature I liked a lot was the constant referring to the names of other titles in the series and the series name itself. I love continuity through books and this was just a lovely touch the series.

I really don't know if I was just in a negative mood whilst reading this book, or whether it's how the book made me feel, but I don't think it lived up to it's hype for me. I expected so much from this book, and it just failed to deliver. I can only hope that the copies I gave away on World Book Night went to people who enjoyed it more than me. I doubt I'll be continuing with the series, but if everyone loved the same things, the world would be a very boring place.

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