This book had me like…
You know what part. If you’ve read it, you know exactly what part that one is for, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
I don’t even know what to say about this book. It is everything I’m not usually into: there are fantasy elements, long journeys through rough terrain, a boy and his dog – fine stuff, but totally not my thing. It somehow wound up on my Goodreads to-read list, and I have a tendency to impulse-add things based on Cannonball reviews or who knows what, so when I find something there and think “Why is this here? I don’t read that kind of book,” I know I put it there for a reason so I try to at least read the first few chapters. Oh my goodness I am so glad I did with this one.
I think my lack of knowing anything at all about the plot going in really helped, because figuring things out as the protagonist did really helped me immerse myself in the world and not notice that it really does follow the YA trilogy formula. I remember thinking halfway through the book that I still had no idea what the hell was going on but that it was so okay. So I’m not going to reveal much of anything here.
Since it feels wrong to write a review that just amounts to 500 consecutive heart-eye emojis, I’ll touch on the few things I didn’t love:
The logic behind the Chosen One trope was a little thin (to me). Then again, of all the many YA trilogy tropes, that is the one I usually take issue with the most. It’s always a teenager against a big powerful something and it seems like how is the big powerful something so big and powerful if it has to redirect all of its resources to squelching the spirit of one wayward teenager? It always baffles me. It baffled me no less here.
Aaron. What even was his deal? He could’ve been a lot more nuanced and his Big Villain Monologue wound up being…weird. I was so distracted by the “What is this guy’s problem?” that his big scary moments were often his big wtf moments which maybe took away from it a bit. His reasoning, when it’s revealed, does not really help.
The fact that I enjoyed this book so thoroughly other than those two gripes has me obliged to read the second book, which at about 1/5 of the way in is suffering from classic middle trilogy syndrome. A pretty bad case of it. But there’s no way I’m not finishing the trilogy, so I have to slog through the so-far-underwhelming second book. Thanks a lot, first book.
As discussed here, I am going to be adding a content warning at the end of my reviews so that anyone who wants to be aware of certain content can look for that. I will place it at the end so you can skip it if you’d rather, and place it lower if it could be considered spoilery. If there is anything you’d like me to add to the “Things to Warn About” list, no matter how obscure or irrational, please feel more than free to either leave it in a comment or e-mail me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be more than happy to add it.
Content warning for The Knife of Never Letting Go: Animal sad stuff (I’m not spoiling whether he dies here, but I will say stuff happens that will mess with your feels – if you need details, let me know), blood and some moderate gore, dead bodies (pretty brief), religious zealotry, serious bodily wounds, medical scenarios, possible implied near rape (honestly not sure if that’s what they were getting at, but if you’re very affected by that, it could be enough – I’m happy to provide details if it’s something you need to know, just e-mail me), kidnapping, loss of parents, fire, forced exile, extreme sexism portrayed very negatively, violence, war, mild-moderate profanity.