The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness – 496 pages
To Todd, life seems simple. He knows that the Noise germ caused men’s thoughts to be as loud as voices. He knows that same germ killed all the women on New World, including his mother. He knows that the Specks who released the germ all died in the war, and that in a month’s time he will turn thirteen and become a man. Then, when Todd and his dog Manchee stumble upon a spot of silence in the Noise, everything he thought he knew will change forever.
Sometimes a book just pulls you in and eats you up and breaks you into a million pieces and spits you back out again feeling like you’ve been run over by a truck except you really liked being run over by that truck. The Knife of Never Letting Go is one of those books. I knew it was going to be something special from the first few pages, and tonight I just barreled through the last three quarters of it like my life depended on finding out what happened next. And it sort of did. Once again, I was Bastian sitting in the attic of the school. I sobbed like the world was ending and had to take the book with me to the bathroom (poo, Todd?) because I couldn’t put it down, and I feel wrung dry and tied in knots and changed.
I’m starting to ramble. Let me try to reel it in. Your premise isn’t quite like anything I’ve read before, which is a miracle unto itself. You’ve crafted something unique and frightening that’s strengthening at the same time, which is how books about such strife should be. Also, you get automatic points for writing in the present tense–I LOVE present tense writing with more enthusiasm than seems entirely necessary. On top of all that, your characters (especially Todd and Manchee) are so intensely real to me. You’ve captured a huge variety of ways in which men could react to such bizarre circumstances–the coldly evil Mayor, the lunatic preacher, the hotheaded Cillian and kindhearted Ben who were ready to die to protect their adopted son from the town’s darkness…it’s a frighteningly plausible world. I could almost hate you for the cliff you’ve left me hanging over, except that one of my delightful friends is going to loan me an ARC of the sequel, so that I don’t die of waiting. You’ve done something spectacular, and I thank you for it. Five effing stars.
Books this year: 97
Pages this year: 19,402