The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness
The Knife of Never Letting Go
Walker Books
479 pages
8.7 (Best Book)

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

What distinguishes Patrick Ness' coming-of-age story from other stories is probably his ability to bind the lessons of what we must go through before entering the stage of adulthood, impressive moral values, and enchanting plot without being messy and all over the place. There's usually a major theme in each of Ness' books. A Monster Calls--even if the idea comes from the late Siobhan Dowd--teaches us the acceptance of past, something that's not only painful, but also inevitable. This whole moral lesson is disguised under charming plot that's filled with feeling. In The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first book of Chaos Walking trilogy, the major theme is the lose of innocence, one precious thing that we all lost when we become an adult. But, that doesn't mean The Knife of Never Letting Go cannot be enjoyed by adult people. In fact, this book makes us, adult people, ponder where all our innocence goes. Are the consequences of giving up the innocence worth it?

This one-million dollar question is what Todd Hewitt, our character, must go through during his journey in The Knife of Never Letting Go. Living in a planet where people can hear each others' thought, the planet where Todd lives is no tranquil place. But the sound of men in his town, Prentisstown, is full of desperation and vileness, but Todd never realizes it until he hears silence. As the plot unfolds, the whole truth of Prentisstown and the silences are something that Todd learns when he decides to escape from that town which keeps lies and secrets. The blurb is something that's intriguing that's able to make wonder what the eff actually happens, and with a fast-paced tempo, Ness begins to uncover the secrets in an enchanting way, like a grandfather who tells stories to his grandchildren. 

The Knife of Never Letting Go's worldbuilding is the highlight of the book, where Ness creates a whole new planet as a new place for technologically-advanced civilians to start to rebuild their new life. In a way, it kinda reminds me of Orson Scott Card's Pathfinder , where advanced technology can be combined with heathen lifestyle. Each settlements have their characteristics, a settlement where the woman rules, a settlement where people go crazy due to not being able to comprehend with the Noise, or a settlement whose building all made of glass, giving Zamyatin's We a shout out. 

There are so many hidden allegories within the book that you may feel so overwhelmed by this, but that's Patrick Ness for you. The Knife of Never Letting Go may feature one of the goriest murder in young adult books, but that's necessary not only to drive the plot, but also to show the readers the moral consequences of killing people. It's a representation of killing your innocence. Ness shows us Todd's moral choices of killing or not killing. The concept of Noise may represent the abundant of information that we get everyday, and sometimes knowing too much information can be stressful and frustrating. But, that's just the surface of how complex this book is. As a narrator of the book, Todd's voice is raw and unfiltered and pure. He's not aware of the concept of feeling due to the people's Noises that he keeps hearing, but when Viola comes, a girl he saves from the folks of Prentisstown, Todd slowly begins to learn the meaning of feeling. And it's just interesting because it depicts the gender dichotomy in reality where men tend to think logical, and women tend to feel. But, that's where Ness emerges in, and indeed Ness is an author with dominant introverted-feeling that it's clearly reflected in his works; The Knife of Never Letting Go is full of feeling. 

But, that's not the only why The Knife of Never Letting Go impacts you. Ness sculpts a realistic characters, infused all of them with soul. Even the animals in this book have more personality than most of characters in young adult books. Todd and Viola are characters that make you sympathize. The villains are evil, yet humane--especially when you read the successor of the book. The animals in The Knife of Never Letting Go also have Noise, but Ness doesn't make them talk comprehensively, but each animal is only able to say simple words. The most picturesque thing in the book occurs when Todd and Viola walks through the cacophonous choir of animals' Noise, that for the first time Todd feels that Noise can be beautiful. 

The Knife of Never Letting Go is impressive coming-of-age story that's important and should be read by people, that one book that reminisces the innocence of our children, and where all good things go.

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