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abookaweek 2012: week thirty-seven

2012 September 16
by Romy

The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness

Category: Post-apocalyptic / dystopian

Story: Todd Hewitt lives in Prentisstown on the New World: the only town (population: 130) on a planet that was colonized by people who wanted to escape technology on earth as we know it. All the men in Prentisstown have Noise, their thoughts are projected out loud and can be heard by anyone. All the women in Prentisstown are dead, killed by the aliens that populated New World before the humans arrived. So you can imagine Todd’s surprise when he finds a real, live girl in the swamp near the town. Before he knows it, the entire town is after the girl, so he runs away with her to try to keep her safe.

Opinion: This was a breath of fresh air after Ashes. The originality of the setting, plot development, characters and style of this novel makes me seriously question the rating I gave to last week’s book. But on to this one.

The setting/premise of The Knife of Never Letting Go is that of a New World, where people tried to build a new society free of the complications of the technology-based society that you and I know. They wanted to go back to a simpler, cleaner way of living, and they ended up reinventing their religion and moral values along the way. This ties it to both the foundation of the US as well as the current trend to keep things local and grow your own food. All this serves to really ground the plot; despite space colonization, Noise and magical healing bandages, the history and sequence of events that led to the story in this book are completely believable.

While some dystopian YA characters tend to blend together, Ness gave Todd a voice of his own which helped plant him in my memory as a kickass hero, as well as bring the book to life.

But the best part, the very very best part, is Todd’s dog, Manchee. All animals in New Town are able to talk (some have a more limited vocabulary than others), so Manchee likes to say things like “Good poo, Todd,” after he has just done his business. What a wonderful dog.

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