To: The Knife of Never Letting Go

The Knife of Never Letting Go
Patrick Ness

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?

Dear Knife,

I’m writing you a letter because I feel the need to address certain issues that you’ve no doubt noticed we have. Now, there’s no need to overreact, okay? I just want to talk.

I’d been looking forward to our first encounter for ages. After all, every single person that had met you seemed to have fallen in love with you. And while I must admit I’m quite infatuated with you myself, you also make me want to tear my hair out and direct every swear word in my vocabulary at you.

There. I said it.

Look, you know I’m a huge fan of how creative you are. You know that. I have immense respect for the world you built – come on, Noise? Constantly broadcasting everything you think about to everybody else? Who thinks of something like that?! Also, the way you handled how different towns reacted to women being Quiet and men being Noisy? That was well thought out, well executed, and very very smart.

So that’s not the issue at all, here. YOU are brilliant. My problem is with that Todd kid of yours.

Okay, I’ll be honest. I admit to a little bias here.  I’m a HUGE dog-person, so every time Todd did anything that made poor little Manchee go, “Ow, Todd?” I wanted to just take a gun and shoot the damn kid. I know it’s not an ideal world. I know there are people out there that treat their own pets terribly. I know you talking about it is just your way of being “realistic”, but that doesn’t make it okay. There’s a reason I avoid books with animals in them like the plague and THIS IS WHY. I have a dog – an adorable little fluffball whose purpose in life is to get us to chase him around the house while he chomps on his squeaky toy and to make us feel like the world wouldn’t exist without us. I kid you not. ALL dogs just want to give their People love. They’re astoundingly selfless, and as long as you’re happy and safe? They’re happy. So when people treat their pets – dogs, especially – like little mister Todd here? IT MAKES ME MAD.

There are going to be a few spoilers now. I suggest you keep this letter away from those that don’t know you too well, yet.

People are awful, Knife. There’s no use trying to avoid talking about it. People do terrible, terrible things. And I know you understand that – it’s pretty evident from that 500-paged long conversation we had. Yet, I can’t help but feel you place a certain emphasis on “innocence being lost” when Todd has to kill another person, rather than the act of killing itself. Which is something I CANNOT agree with.

You know the Spackle? And Lemon Meringue? (Avoiding spoilers is a deeply ingrained habit, it would seem) Not okay, Knife. I could argue that leaving someone to die – someone that was put in that position in the first place because he was trying to save your worthless hide – that’s a whole lot worse than killing someone. I’d say that if you ever made the decision to do that, I don’t care what your excuse is, your “innocence” has already flown out the window.  Also, killing a non-human when it’s clearly terrified of you and has done nothing to provoke you? That, too.

ALSO. Leaving villages and towns to die because of you? Not cool.

Why was there so little thinking? You must warn them, the writing on the map said. What are the immediate questions you think of? Warn whom? Of what? Why? Where could the answers be? Possibly the book that came with the map or the map itself? Oh, I can’t read? Then why don’t I swallow my effing pride and ask somebody who can before something bad happens?!

I don’t get it, Knife. I just don’t get why so many bad things had to happen, one after the other.

And for what? I haven’t met your siblings yet, so maybe there’s more to Todd than meets the eye. But all this fuss just because he’s the only one in Prentisstown that hasn’t killed anybody yet? I find that a little hard to swallow.

Look, with Harry (have you met Harry?) – there’s a reason he needs to be kept alive. And a solid, unquestionable reason for Voldemort wanting him dead. With Todd, I can’t say I understand why the whole village is so eager to get their hands on him. I understand what he represents just fine. The extent they go to to capture him is just a little unrealistic, I think.

And, yes. I am aware that I survive on a healthy diet of fantasy – but when you create a setting, things are supposed to make sense within the frame you created. I had so many questions – and none of them deep or philosophical. They were mostly just along the lines of, “Why is this happening? What’s the point of all this?”

I know that it might seem like I…um…hate you. I don’t. Really. There were so many instances that made me want to give you the biggest bear hug in the history of Ever. It’s just that all these things were bothering me and I needed to clear the air. You understand, don’t you?

I’m still going to emphatically recommend you to every reader I know. And have heated debates about you. Don’t you worry.




48 thoughts on “To: The Knife of Never Letting Go

  1. After reading this letter I am absolutely intrigued by what this book is about! It does sound like a frustrating read though. I must admit I don’t like books that leave me feeling so conflicted all the time.

    Unfortunately I’m going to have to ignore my curiosity though as, having got a copy of Fly by Night, I haven’t managed to read it yet! I have a reading list that’s two pages of A5 and that doesn’t even cover everything on my Kindle. Perhaps I should have done the read-a-thon after all?

    • This book cut me up inside. Ever since I read it, I’ve been oscillating between wanting to gush about it and wanting to cry in frustration. :|

      You got Fly By Night! I really hope you like it. And I remember a post you wrote a while ago, about how you love words? Just by themselves? Hardinge will appeal to that side of you. :)

      Ha, I know. I do, too. Every time I look at my to-read shelf on Goodreads, I cringe. They’ll probably have another read-a-thon next month or something. I’ll be sure to let you know once they’ve decided on a date! Or, you could just join in the conversation on the Goodreads group, if you want? It’s very relaxed and they try to find something that works for everyone. :)

  2. I enjoyed this review. I’m not sure I actually want to pick up the book because I would definitely be a bear with a sore head with all these niggles, but, this was very original and interesting.
    Lynn :D

  3. You’ve heard the story of Grigori Rasputin’s death and how he just wouldn’t die despite all these varies attempts? Aaron reminds me of him. No matter how badly injured he was–and you think this guy would have died from too much blood loss or SOMETHING, right? But no!–he keeps popping up to terrorize us. What the heck?!

    Yeah, Knife is one of those book where boom! boom! boom! something happens right after the other. Constantly. And you don’t fully understand WHY, either. At the same time, I was so horribly engrossed in this book but frustrated by it and then more frustrated by the fact that, despite everything, I really, really like it.

    And that scene with Todd and the Spackle? I hadn’t felt more upset with Todd than in that moment. And the whole thing with Manchee? I had to sit the book down. I still haven’t forgiven Ness for that and probably never will.

    • Right?! At one point I even thought – PLOT TWIST – Aaron is some weird cyborg guy! But no. Just fanatically persistent, it would seem. :|

      Exactly. I feel the same way. Which is why I just couldn’t rate it on Goodreads – I just don’t know how to react to this book.

      Every tiny thing with Manchee just set me off. I wanted to just jump in, rescue him, wrap him up in a giant hug and keep him away from Todd. And the Spackle scene just gets me screaming in frustration.

      I’ve got to admit, though. Despite all the problems I have with the book, Ness sure knows how to work an audience. And right now, I’m still unsure whether that’s a good thing. I’m trying very hard to stay away from the other books and not let my curiosity get to me. :|

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