"I may not know how to fly but I know how to read and that's almost the same thing."-- Gregory Maguire, Out of Oz

"...while finding true love was one of the most splendid things that could happen to you in life, finding a friend was equally splendid." -- Felix J Palma, The Map of the Sky

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Monday, May 5, 2014

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) 
by Patrick Ness 

"That's the thing I'm learning about being thrown out on your own. Nobody does nothing for you. If you don't change it, it don't get changed."
Todd Hewwit knows a lot of things: he knows a group of settlers left the Old World for the New World, to live a simpler existence away from the evils of society. He knows there was a war between the native people, The Spackles, and the humans. He knows The Spackles used Germ Warfare; releasing bugs that turned the internal monologues of men into never ending Noise, while killing off all the women, and giving animals the power to speak. He knows The Spackles were eventually defeated, leaving Prentisstown the only surviving settlement.

Todd, the youngest member of Prentisstown, is eagerly awaiting the arrival of his thirteenth birthday, where he will officially be considered a man. But when Todd and his dog Manchee discover a hole in the Noise, he learns that everything he knows is a lie and he is forced to run for his life.

I absolutely adored this book, I couldn't put it down. Let me tell you why.

I love the frustrating air of mystery and danger around everything. If Todd goes apple picking he could get eaten by crocs just a easily as being slapped around by a madman. Then the hole in the noise. A quiet that moves. A convoluted concept that made me want to scream, "What the hell is it!" I like Todd as a hero; he's not a bad guy, but he's not pure as the driven snow: he is a teenager. He's prone to ragey tantrums; I appreciate the realism. Adolescence is a time for emotional fits--Puberty's a bitch. Add in the knowledge that everyone is lying and nobody wants to explain why, and it jumps beyond realism. I feel the anger, the betrayal, and my heart breaks for Todd. All he's got left is his dog and---

But I can't tell you who the AND is...the And is a bid fracking spoiler. I try to avoid those.

This book doesn't waste any time moving right along; no long drawn out explanations for anything, even when you really really want them. It is suspenseful; the pages kept turning because I wanted the answers as much as I want to see where the adventure leads.The explanations as to why things are the way they are, get dropped when its most convenient for the author, when its most helpful to the story. There's plenty of humor, mixed into the darkness, but there's plenty of darkness too.

I'd also like to address the thing most of the negative reviewers addressed: grammar and spelling. The grammar isn't perfect. There are fairly obvious spelling mistakes and extreme run on sentences. I'm usually one of the first people in the flaming-grammar-problems-party-- I'll bring the Sterno, you cook the s'mores. I don't take abuse of the English Language lightly, so when I say I loved this book, I mean errors included. Because this story is told from the POV of a teenage boy who hasn't had an education. In Prentisstown, knowledge is considered a dangerous thing; books were burned, a schoolhouse closed. Todd can't read, he can't write. So he rambles, he uses slang, he makes spelling and pronunciation mistakes. I would expect that from a kid who can't read or write. So the mistakes in this book are beautiful to me; to me it shows a well developed character and I'd never insult that. I live for the characters. The more depth the better. And if the people who insulted the writing style finished the book, or even made it halfway through, they must know Todd can't read...So why cause such a fuss?

All I can tell you is that there is emotionally wrought adventure to be had on another planet, with a teenage boy and his comical talking dog. And if you like young heroes facing long odds, lots of drama, and a bit of bloodshed, you aren't doing yourself any favors by avoiding this book. I can also tell you, I immediately downloaded Book 2 because the ending of Book 1 made my Top 3 list of cruel cliffhangers.If there's one reason to be irritated at Patrick Ness, it was that ending. Who ends a book like that?

Rating 5/5

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