Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go

The Knife of Never Letting Go

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Published: July 14th 2009 by Candlewick Press (first published May 5th 2008)
Purchase: Book Depository | Amazon
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?

It’s one of those books you can’t put down, it steals your breath and leaves you aching and still you keep pushing through it, even if that one scene completely destroys you. I’m supposed to be studying for finals but already my fingers are flipping through the second book because The Knife of Never Letting Go is so epic and consuming, it’s difficult to extract myself from this world Patrick Ness has created.

In this world, the thoughts of all men can be heard and the women are dead. The story starts in Prentisstown, a small settlement filled with secrets and mystery, the likes of which starts this dark adventure filled with twisty turns and perils galore fuelled by action packed scenes and break neck pace.

Todd has such a distinct, wonderful voice that feels so alive, I can imagine his gestures and expressions and even the way his voice sounds. He’s flawed and stubborn and confused and sometimes he makes the wrong choices and says the wrong things but it makes him feel all the more real. He’s caring, brave, protective and very determined. Manchee, his dog, is the best character ever. He is so good, kind and fiercely loyal (think Dug from UP). In world of such darkness and despair, he’s the character that makes me smile.

Viola stands on her own and apart from Todd. She’s courageous, intelligent and kickass but vulnerable too. I like seeing different these sides to her because she isn’t a character that can be folded into a neat little box. There isn’t this imbalance between her and Todd, they’re both equally strong, flawed characters and their relationship develops tentatively, growing subtly stronger throughout their journey.

The villains are blood curling and hideous. There are many villains in this book but there is one that is annoyingly persistent and it’s a little unrealistic but damn if I didn’t want to take that knife and stab him myself.
I didn’t always enjoy The Knife of Never Letting Go, it’s difficult when the characters are constantly in danger. It’s upsetting, violent, and the cliffhanger is gorge your own heart out bad (seriously, you should have the second book on hand) but it’s amazing and thought provoking and intense in a way that gives you ALL the feelings.

4 Stars

Review: Grasshopper Jungle

Grasshopper Jungle

Title: Grasshopper Jungle
Author: Andrew Smith
Published: February 11th 2014 by Dutton Juvenile
Purchase: Book Depository | Amazon
Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the storyof how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Austin’s hormones are totally oblivious; they don’t care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He’s stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann. Ultimately, it’s up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.

The three things I can say about this book with surety are:
1. This book was fucking bizarre.
2. This is a story about everything.
3. It was addictive.

Our main character, Austin Szerba is a very confused, perpetually horny teenager. Normal teenage stuff. He also catapults the beginning of the end of the world by means of 6 feet tall, carnivorous mantis like creatures. Not so normal. I loved Austin. I liked his inner turmoil, his compulsive need to record history and his candid and hilarious voice. The writing style was so distinct and enjoyable, the crude humour and references to shit, sex and urinals were oddly refreshing.

Austin was quite confused about his sexuality. He had feelings for his best friend, Robby, and his girlfriend, Shann. I loved Robby, he was laidback and cool and I enjoyed his interactions with Austin. While Robby had a strong presence, Shann faded into the background. Austin view of Shann came off shallow while his descriptions of Robby held so much substance.

The eradication of mankind comes about in a unique and terrifying way, death by hungry, horny bugs. It’s ugly and absurd and completely entertaining. Weaved into the chaos of this story are the completely unrelated actions of the strangers in Austin’s life and his backstory of his family. It’s fascinating and somehow they all connect. It’s sort of brilliant to witness the revelation of all these connections.

As for my dislikes, one had to be the length of the book. The story dragged at times and in the last quarter of the book the repetitions got irritating. I also wasn’t a fan of the ending, it left me unsatisfied and I needed more closure.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, a bit of an understatement since I did read it one sitting. Looking back on Grasshopper Jungle, the shit that happened was dark and dreary but there’s such an absurd mood and WTF hilarity that it keeps the book light and fun and so weird. Read it, I’ll bet you haven’t come across anything of this sort.

3.5 Stars