Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness - THEN USE IT

Pros: Creative world, ideas, and hot dang if Ness didn't fail to kill his darlings.
Cons: It made me angry, angry angry and JUST KILL THAT PERSON ALREADY.

The Bottom Line: Viola is my frigging hero.

First of all, let me say that rating this book at Epinions was very hard for me to do. There were so many different elements of this book that did different things and made me feel various ways that choosing a final star rating was tricky. Obviously, I managed it and I managed a four, but for a while it was a three. I'll explain.

But first, a quick book sum up:

Todd is just like anyone else in Prentisstown. He can hear everyone's Noise - all their thoughts jumbled together. Animals can talk too. So it's all Noise, all the time. No room for privacy, for secrets, and definitely no possibility of quiet. Until one day Todd notices a hole in the Noise. A silence all its own. That's when it all goes downhill. Todd has to flee and it seems like everyone in the town is after him. He doesn't understand why, though he's quickly discovering that everything he knew is a lie.

Most of the time while reading this, I was angry. Angry at a lot of things. Angry at Todd for making certain (astoundingly stupid) decisions. Angry at other characters (and at the same time, the author) for holding off on not telling Todd the truth about, well, anything. Angry at the author for holding off on that truth for so long because by then a lot of people (myself included) had guessed it. Angry at one particular death that did, in fact, make me cry, and angry because one character who should have died very early on, did not (and the fact that said character didn't defies all logic, hence making it look stupid as well).

I do give props to Patrick Ness for creating a story that evoked emotions from me, yet at the same time, I don't think you want your reader sitting there angry for most of the book. It's becoming a particular pet peeve of mine when a character fails to tell another character something important when they have time even for a short version. Instead, they spend that time yelling at each other, things like, "You have to run now!" and "But why? What's going on?" and "Don't talk now, get your stuff and go!" etc. when all that needs to happen is for one person to say, "They killed your dad and now they're here to kill you so GET OUT." That is in no way related to this book, by the way. Pure example. Or when other characters think they have all the time in the world despite the main characters telling them they don't and they're clearly not lying. Drives me insane.

I also give Ness props for creating a unique world where everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts. You'll figure out why and where this place is etc. as you read, and it's an interesting story with even more interesting truths that appear later. Knowing that, however, makes it weird when something like squirrels appear. Are they really squirrels, or did the people there just decide to call them that for their similar properties?

And, while a part of me really, really hates to do it, Ness gets credit for having the guts to do away with the one character that made me cry. They say to writers, "Kill your darlings." And actually, it's almost not even so much the death as the way it happened that made me cry because I could totally see the look in the eyes, I could easily picture how it all went down and it just broke my heart. You suck Ness. But my writer side applauds you for your cajones.

However, I must take points away from Ness due to the other character that was like the friggin' Energizer Bunny from hell. For what the character wanted, the person made it a lot more difficult than it needed to be, but whatever. And I just do not, DO NOT believe the person would have escaped the very first time. I don't. Sorry.

I'd also like to say that people who refuse to kill people who intend to kill them are morons. I'm sorry, but if you try to kill me over and over and overoverover again, no, we're done. That is something that also drives me insane. Even more so when something minding it's own business gets killed and yet nope, we can't kill the other people because that makes us bad. NO. Sorry, but my personal philosophy just really gets in the way here and I ended up saying things out loud like, "I swear, if this person doesn't $#@%! die, I am going to be SO mad."

Ironically enough, the ending didn't really bug me because I'd read other reviews mention the, ah, abruptness, so I was easily able to guess how things would play out, abruptness aside. Still, if you want to know how everything plays out, you'll need to get books two and three. Will I? Maybe. It's hard to say. With how I felt about this one, if book two is anything like this, I'd rather not. I don't want to spend another four hours of my life being nothing but frustrated and angry.

So why, if I'm complaining this much, did I give the book four stars at Epinions? (and I apologize for the wild ramble)

Because it really is a good story. It's got a lot of cool ideas and things going on. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, and Ness gets his characters to do things that make you react and he really knows how to make bad guys that you really hope die in painful ways. As a writer, he makes some bold choices that can easily have readers loving him or hating him. The style of the book is in Todd's voice, which includes slang, present tense, and, of course, Noise. It's risky, but he pulls it off. And I'm only one person. Even though I spent most of my time being mad, I know a lot of people will react in different ways, so I like to step back and take a look at it as objectively as I can (also why I didn't write the review the same day I finished the book). In that respect, it is a four star book.

Do give it a try if you like speculative fiction, teen dystopia, or some of Ness's ideas. Whether or not you'll want to move on to the next few books will all depend upon how you feel about this one.


And yes. Viola is my frigging hero in this book. THANK YOU.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that Ness did a good job with Todd's dog, Manchee. At first I gave a lot of credit to dogs, thinking that they'd have maybe a bit more to say, but then realized after thinking about my own dog, they very well may not. After all, I've even pictured what my dog thinks when we play with him - his little brain with a ticker tape machine going:

Ball! Ballballballballballballballballballballballballballballballballball...

Originally posted on

Notes from the playlist: "Carnival of Rust" by Poets of the Fall

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