Review | The Knife of Never Letting Go

An intriguing and gripping, if overlong, series opener. 4/5 stars.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Imagine a world where all thoughts were audible. What consequences would that have for the individual and society?

This is the intriguing premise underlying The Knife of Never Letting Go, an original and sometimes gripping series opener from Patrick Ness.

I found the hero, Todd Hewitt, a very convincing 13/14 year old (depending on whether you count his age in Earth years or New World years) and someone the reader can truly root for. I particularly enjoyed his developing relationship with Viola.

[SPOILER ALERT] If you’re a dog-lover, prepare to have your heart broken. Todd’s rather daft, but loyal companion, Manchee, is wonderful (more points to Patrick Ness for depicting the thoughts of a dog so convincingly!) and what happens to him is rather upsetting.

The world building is also convincing, although I think the fact that this story is set on another planet is incidental – at heart this is a story about the many difficulties and harsh realities of growing up.

It is also a tale of survival against the odds and, viewing the book in this way – as a series of near misses and escapes – it is far too long. At nearly 500 pages, it becomes exhausting in places. Reader fatigue isn’t helped by the style at points. For example:

Too many

Pages written with

Only a couple

Of words

Per line.

Could it get

Any more


Aaron, the main bogeyman, is possibly the most persistent fictional hunter since Javert in Les Mis. I could have done with one or two fewer encounters with him.

And after such a tiring read, don’t expect to be rewarded by a satisfactory conclusion. The series opener ends on a tremendous downer and cliff-hanger. You have been warned!

Having said all that, I don’t want to give the impression I didn’t like this book, because I did. Although a YA novel, it is in no way patronising and doesn’t shy away from dark and difficult issues. It also asks some interesting questions, including: what makes a boy a man? And, what makes a man a monster?

I’ll be buying the next book in the series as soon as time and money allow 🙂

In other news, as if he needed to do anything else to cement his credentials as a thoroughly nice guy, Patrick Ness has been spearheading a remarkable fundraising initiative for the Syrian refugee crisis, rally support from YA authors and fans all over the world. As of Sunday afternoon, Philip Pullman’s pledge had taken them up to half a million pounds. Click here to find out more and donate if you like.

And for those of you who want to know more about the plot, here’s…

The blurb: 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?

 Claire Huston / Art and Soul

9 thoughts on “Review | The Knife of Never Letting Go

  1. I really want to read this series, I love Ness’ writing style! His characters are always ones you support so I’m glad to hear it’s the same for this book 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, audible thoughts…now that is scary. :S The other day, I was remarking how fortunate it is that our thoughts don’t instantly become actions, that would be quite terrifying too. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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