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September 2013

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THE BOOK OF NEVER PUTTING DOWN!

After hearing the Young Adult  CHAOS WALKING trilogy is being made into a film series by Lionsgate (of HUNGER GAMES movie fame), I downloaded this first volume, THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, onto my Kindle and I'm glad I did!

The story revolves around Todd Hewitt, the youngest (and only) child in the all-male colony of Prentisstown, settlers from Old World that have traveled to another planet known as New World to begin a better life. But something has gone wrong. A mysterious germ has killed all the women and infected men with "The Noise," a telepathic curse that constantly bombards them with each other's thoughts and has given them the ability to communicate with animals. As Todd approaches the day of his secretive rite of manhood, a chance encounter with a surprising stranger plunges him into a race against death to discover the terrible secrets of his colony's past, even as he struggles to save this entire world from the ravages of war.

Great premise and a dark and visceral read featuring the best "talking" dog character you're likely to encounter!

My only nitpicks involve the length of the novel, which could have been edited down (particularly in some of the road-trip sequences) without affecting the story in the least.

Also, the main character was guilty at times of the LOST (T.V. series) curse, i.e. not asking the right questions, nor taking advantage of information (i.e. a journal he carries around that, if he read or had someone else read it for him, could provide a whole lot of answers, etc.) And just how did all the older males keep the town's secrets hidden from Todd since everyone could read minds?

A pet peeve of mine is that when a story is told in first person, such as this one is, you shouldn't withhold thoughts from the reader that would provide information. That's cheating (i.e. a character earlier in the book sends the main character a telepathic memory describing the rite of how a boy becomes a man that the reader is never told, until the end of the book, when the main character ruminates on this big reveal). If I'm in a character's head, I want to be privvy to everything they experience, not have key thoughts glossed over for the sake of plot contrivance.

Be warned that the novel ends in a massive cliffhanger. I don't mind unfinished business in trilogies, but prefer when there's a little more closure after each installment. Imagine Darth Vader delivering his famous line to Luke Skywalker in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and then the movie cutting to black and end credits right there. You get the picture. At least the other two volumes of this series are already available, but it must have been a frustrating wait to those that read this one before the second was released.

Despite these quibbles, the story definitely cast its spell and intrigued me enough to where I've already downloaded the next volume (THE ASK AND THE ANSWER)to find out what happens.

One last thing. I LOVED that Todd was raised on a farm by a loving male couple, Ben and Cillian, two of the most positive portrayals of men in the entire novel.  Even though it's never expressly stated (at least in this volume) that this is a gay couple, you won't need telepathy to read between the lines ;-)

Thank you Patrick Ness for writing such a thought-provoking novel!


Comments

Glad I could help, Medeia. BTW I picked up ASHES based on your review and am really enjoying it!