While seated in the theater to watch Moana with my daughter, who grudgingly accepts Chipmunk as my nickname for her, we got to see the previews. Popcorn, candy, and drinks in hand, we pointed out which movies we'd like to make sure to come back and watch. There was one that didn't make my daughter's cut, but it snagged my attention. It was A Monster Calls. I'd heard a great deal of good about the book on which this movie is based. So, I had to read it.
And loved it.
Then it got me to looking through my kindle library because the author's name, Patrick Ness, seemed familiar to me for another reason. That's when I found The Knife of Never Letting Go.
Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.
I can't recall exactly why I purchased this story, maybe word of mouth. But I got this several years ago. I remember trying to read it and being unable to get beyond the first page. I'm not one for DNF'ing (for those not familiar, that is rating the book a Did Not Finish) a book unless I give it another chance, so I moved on to something else until I could come back to this.
I'm a little late in getting back it (yes, please feel free to laugh), but I did. I tried again, struggling with it due to the stream-of-consciousness style of writing. Unlike last time, I held beyond the first page and made it all the way to the end. The writing style didn't grow on me, but I quickly adapted my brain to the style so it wasn't such an issue. It was also interactive, which I kind of liked.
To keep from sharing any spoilers, because I hope you give this book a try as well, the best way I can describe this book is to say it reminds me of zooming out. You've seen photographs where the lens is zoomed in tight on something. You think you might know what it is or what is happening, but you're unsure. As the lens zooms out, you start to see more and more of what is there, but still, it isn't 100% clear, so you can't help holding on for the lens to zoom out some more.
That's what reading this book was like. There's no back story easily laid out. Rather, you experience each new discovery with Todd Hewitt as the story zooms out to eventually paint a picture that, well, some may see coming, but I didn't.
The story is heartbreaking, then hopeful, then heartbreaking, and then hopeful again. Todd is a likable character and I really loved his loyal dog Manchee (Poo!) - when you read the book for yourself, you'll get the reference :-)
I'm a dystopian fan, so this book was right up my alley. As the first in the Chaos Walking series, it did a great job of making me want to find out what happened and seek out the next book.
Have you read The Knife of Never Letting Go? What other dystopian novels or series do you favor?