Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness (Audio)

There are a number of bloggers who have forever claimed that The Chaos Walking Trilogy was better than its more publicized colleagues (The Hunger Games, for example).  Jill, Ana, Trisha, Raych...all friends whose opinions I trust.  They spoke of love, of obsession, of tears.  I was overwhelmed with it all and I ran away. 

But then I picked up this first installment at the 2010 SIBA convention.  So what was my problem?  The size of the books (this one is nearly 500 pages long)?  The three-book commitment?  Laziness?  Then I heard it was being made into a movie.  Then I found the first and third installment on audio at the library.  And I decided to go for it.  Praise the Lord, Patrick Ness and talking dogs.

Synopsis:  Prentisstown is a farming village occupied only by men, located in the New World. The women all died years ago, killed by a virus contracted from the native species that inhabited the planet before man colonized it.  Likewise, this same virus made all men's private thoughts available to each other (called Noise), and have enabled animals to talk.

Todd Hewitt lives in Prentisstown, and will be the last boy in town to turn 13 and officially become a man.  He is a simple sheltered boy, fairly uneducated because Mayor Prentiss burned all the books and declared schooling unnecessary.  Todd has lived his life believing a number of truths, including the cause of his parents' deaths when he was young, that the natives, called Spackle, were the enemy but are now all gone, and that Prentisstown is the only settlement in the New World.

Until one day, when he meets a human that omits no Noise.  Viola.  A girl.  He is suddenly urged by his adoptive father to run away from Prentisstown with Viola and his loyal dog Manchee, as fast as he can to a safe place, away from the villagers.  It is a matter of life and death.  And all the truths upon which Todd has always relied, are shattered.

My thoughts: I'm not sure where to begin with this one, except to tell you that all the hype for this book is very warranted.  Jesus wept, people, and so did I.

There are so many intricately developed issues buzzing around your head, they overwhelm your senses.  Invasion of a native population, hatred between species, communication (open, closed or managed for ill gain), death of all women, the hypocrisy of the religious, the kindness of strangers, the confusion of young love, and *gulp* the unconditional love of a dog.

But don't let all that scare you off.  In fact, the world that Ness has built for you will make your mind buzz with possibilities and potential.  And Todd and Viola and Manchee are precious and earnest and untainted, and you YEARN for their well-being. The plot is fast-paced and full of terror and anguish.  (Unless you are dead, the anguish will level you.  I'm telling you so you can plan ahead.) 

And right when you get to the precipice of Something Bigger...Ness ends the book.  A bit of a cheap trick if you ask me, and manipulative.  If I'd have read this when it first published, I would have been pretty upset.  I also was slightly irritated at a Michael Meyers-esque character that just WOULD NOT DIE.  It was almost laughable.  All lesser quibbles than the whole of the thing though. 

The good news is that if you are reading these books now, you can plow through them one after the other.  I'm warning you, for the sake of your sanity, have "The Ask and the Answer" at the ready, as soon as you finish this one.

A few words about the audio production: The narrator for this audio book (and for the entire series) is Nick Podehl, a new voice for me, but one that has made a positive first impression.  He was able to convey Todd's innocence, his frustration and fear, as well as speak for Viola, a few evil guys, and best of all, the animals, especially Manchee.  Not everyone can talk like a dog might sound if barking out words, but this guy does a superb Manchee and I love him for it.

4 out of 5 stars

21 comments:

Nymeth said...

See, I knew your post would be a pleasure to read, and I wasn't wrong :P Definitely a good idea to read all three books in quick succession now that you can. But strange though this might sound, I now remember the agony of waiting for the next book to come out very fondly. Not many series have ever made me feel this way.

Beachreader said...

I just read your review and then put the book on hold at my library. Thanks for th intriguing review. This is just what I need to read over the Christmas break.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

As you know, I loved this series. Two people in my life didn't like it and/or wouldn't read it, and it devastated me, because I think they are missing out on so much!

bermudaonion said...

I got this at SIBA too only because you made me. So many people have loved it but I'm a little nervous to read it since it's way outside of my comfort zone. I haven't even tackled The Hunger Games yet.

Zibilee said...

I have all these books as well, and though the kids have been following me around the house trying to press them in my pocket, I have ignored them. No longer though! Your review really did it's job and makes me see that this is a series that I need to try to read as soon as I can. I am pretty sure I am going to love them too. Fantastic and wonderful review today, Sandy!

farmlanebooks said...

I didn't finish this book - I didn't like the dialect/writing style, but I do wish I could give it another try + finish it because I feel as though I'm missing out. I seem to be the only one who isn't in love with this book :-(

amanda said...

These are near the top of my tbl pile. I'm glad to hear the audio is good. I debated about print or audio because I wasn't familiar with the narrator either.

caite said...

not audio..it would take me the rest of my life. and three books X 500 pages...that is a commitment. but if you say it is good.
hmmm..e-books available?

reviewsbylola said...

I thought this was a very entertaining book, but it has been a year or two since I read it and I never bothered to finish the series.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

The man who WOULD NOT DIE, hilarious. That drove me nuts too. I just finished the series as well and I think I'm going to review all 3 in one post, because they felt like one book to me. I read them back-to-back with no pause. I would have hated waiting for the final book.

p.s. Manchee just did me in.

raych said...

I'm with Ana. I was PISSED about the cliff-hangers, but fondly pissed. Like, Awwww, you got me. I care so much that I'm going to DIE before the next book comes out.

But also, I'm so glad you liked it.

Darlene said...

This sounds great. I just put the book on hold at the library. I wish they had the audio but they don't.

Darlene said...

This sounds great. I just put the book on hold at the library. I wish they had the audio but they don't.

C.B. James said...

I'm looking for some new material for my students....so....off to the library I go.... :-)

Nise' said...

So glad you got to this series. I love, loved it too!

Trisha said...

Another convert! Yay!

When I read book 1, I was on vacation and spent the day after finishing the book looking for book 2 to no avail. I was upset. Very upset.

Jenners said...

In my opinion, the books get better and better. Can't wait to see what you think of the rest! And I can't imagine this on audio -- vocalizing Manchee must have been a kick! (Poo, Todd? Poo?) : )

Your opinion of the book pretty much mirrored my own. And yes … that ending in midstride was ANNOYING. If I had been reading them before the whole series was out, I would have been seriously ticked off.

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I'm so glad you're reading this series, Sandy! They are amazing.

C.B. James said...

I finished it last night. I think many of students would like it. I was largely entertained, but I'm going to give it a B myself. I found it too manipulative by the end of the book.

And you should have warned me about Manchee. Stern face and finger shaking at the screen here. ;-)

Julie P. said...

I probably wouldn't have ever picked up this series -- not really on my radar. But I have to say they sound intriguing.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I really need to read this one! Patrick Ness' works seem to be quite the buzz right now; I'm so behind.