Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spoilerific Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

From Goodreads:
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 have rarely had the type of one-dimensional, visceral hatred for a book as I have for this one.  I had read it before and not liked it, but decided to give it a second chance when it was the choice for the FYA Bookclub.  Instead of my usual breakdown, I'm going to give you the short version of my bullet list of things I hated about this book.  Spoilers abound, so beware!


  • Use of dialect.  I realize this is a personal preference but it's one that gets me every time.  I just don't like dialect/intentional misspellings.  On a less personal note, I found the author's use of dialect to be largely inconsistent.  Our main character misspells/misspeaks the word "your" but he uses words like "bounteous" with no problem.
  • Speaking of inconsistencies, here are a few more: We're told that Todd can't read very well, and this is shown to us when Todd struggles to read the phrase "must warn them".  At the end of the book, however, Todd is suddenly able to read the phrase "abandon all hope" with no problem.  In another scene we see a group of men crossing a bridge.  The bridge is burned and several men on it fall into a river.  A few pages later, a character announces that they shouldn't have burned the bridge because no one was crossing it.
  • Stream of consciousness style.  Again, a personal preference.  I'm just not a fan of this style.
  • Major plot holes.  I mean MAJOR.  This thing is like a sieve.  For example: at the beginning of the book, Todd stumbles across an area of silence.  Spoiler alert, the silence is caused by the presence of a girl.  But for the rest of the book, the silence she creates is never mentioned again and the male characters thoughts are still heard in her presence.  
  • Also, one of our plot twists is that all men in Prentisstown killed the women and have been exiled from everyone else on the planet because of it.  However, once Mayor Prentiss starts hunting for Todd, suddenly he is able to convince everyone everywhere to join his army.  Despite the fact that they are supposed to be universally hated and even killed on sight for leaving their town.  I realize this is explained in the next books, but it wasn't in this book.  Which means that the whole basis for the entire book doesn't make sense.  It can't stand on its own.
  • Finally, one of my biggest pet peeves in a suspense novel: the use of "secrets" to create suspense.  We are in Todd's mind for the entire book.  We are supposed to hear his every thought - that's a MAJOR  plot point.  But in order to create suspense, Todd hides things from the reader.  He'll hint that there's a big secret he knows, but will just decide not to think about it.  It means the reader knows a plot twist exists but we're just teased with it for the first three quarters of the book.  The "I Know Something You Don't Know" method of suspense feels cheap to me.  
So there it is, my abbreviated list of things I hated.  That's right, I've got another page worth of nit-picky issues.  These were just the big ones.  It's a big fat do not recommend from me.

1 comment:

  1. I think it is interesting that the thing that bothered you in that last bullet point (the keeping of secrets from the reader even though you are in the main character's head) is the thing that makes The Thief so good. It just goes to show how awesome Megan Whalen Turner's writing is that it doesn't come across as a cheap trick in her book when there is the big reveal.

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