The review title is mostly in jest – if you’ve read my previous reviews, you know I love me some YA . In this case I’ve done myself a disservice because I’m reviewing it late and I’m most of the way through the second novel and they’re starting to blur together. I’m going to try to stick to The Knife of Never Letting Go (ugh, awful title).
We start in a small village in a New World. Our narrator, Todd, is nearly 13 and his village of 146 people is entirely made up of men, and everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts. All of them, all the time. This Noise dominates their lives. There used to be women but a disease spread by the Spackle – an intelligent native species, since eradicated in a war – created the Noise in men and was deadly to women.
Or so Todd has been raised to believe. Just outside town a month before his thirteenth birthday, Todd encounters a girl, a real one. She has no Noise and her mere existence upends everything he knows about his world.
Okay, that’s my summary. This first book is told entirely from Todd’s first person perspective and leans very heavy on stylized prose and accented internal dialogue. At times the form overwhelms the function and it gets distracting. But Ness has an interesting story to tell here (and it gets even more interesting in the second book), one about dependence, the insularity of small communities, and history written by the victors. Of course, it wouldn’t be a dystopian YA novel without the SPECIALNESS of the narrator, but I really appreciated the unique bent Ness took for this.
Having made decent headway on book 2, I would only recommend this for mature young readers – they get into some heavy stuff. But as YA books go, you could really do a helluva lot worse.