You know when everyone tells you a book is amazing and when you get round to reading it, it falls a bit flat in your expectations? That’s how I feel about The Knife of Never Letting Go. I’m pretty sure I’d have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t expecting it to become suddenly amazing after each passing chapter.
Not to say it isn’t a good book. The idea of being able to hear everyone’s thoughts provides an interesting narrative, the first person accounts are not necessarily Todd’s. Todd is the last boy in Prentisstown and is about to become a man in a world without women. At the start of the book, it’s made clear that what Todd thinks to be true isn’t the actual truth. As an adult reader, I think I worked it all out far too quickly and just wanted to get to the end to have it confirmed.
Todd is supposedly the equivalent of fourteen earth years but, to me, he reads as a much younger character. Whilst he has had a fairly isolated and more primitive upbringing, he’s been sharing the insides of grown men’s heads for all those years. That would surely take off some of his innocence and naivety? I found myself getting annoyed at him, even his dog seemed to have more sense at times.
Talking of the dog, the slowly forming bond between Manchee and Todd was one of the highlights for me. Though Manchee’s excessive thoughts of “poo” did cause me to have a dream about a poo monster… the less said the better! If I’m being fussy, I would have expected him to be more obsessed with peeing on things but that never entered his little doggy head.
The use of phonetic spellings in places is rather clever. As someone who has learned language in a very aural way and whose reading has been severely restricted, it makes perfect sense to write in this way. I did find it a little bit inconsistent, with a lot of more complex words correctly spelled. Maybe this is a problem of writing for the young adult market, too much phonetics would have elevated it to a more adult market read as it can be difficult at times.
At times, it also seems to have a feminist edge (and no the author is not a woman) but maybe I was reading too much into it. With the knowledge that the animals were affected first, I did have the idea that the more of an animal you are, the more you transmitted Noise and with that, Ness was giving the idea that women were better human beings. I haven’t got to the point where this has been entirely quashed in my mind.
Whilst I’ll probably read the rest of the trilogy at some point, I’m not eager to start book two straight away. With a cliff-hanger ending, this is unusual for me, but I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I’d like.
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