Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Knife of Never Letting Go

The Knife of Never Letting Go is book one of the "Chaos Walking" series by Patrick Ness. It's a YA book and the first Space Western genre I've ever read! It's about a young man who lives on some distant planet in some distant time but they don't have any advanced technologies (you find out later they're kind of like pilgrims and they wanted to live more "simply"). All the people were settlers, and shortly after they settled in this new place, all the men's thoughts were audible as well as visual to everyone else.

Todd, the kid, lives in this town which doesn't have any women. Everywhere he goes, he's surrounded by the horrible thoughts of the men of the town - and, they're a bitter, awful, violent group of people, barring Todd's adoptive parents, two guys (possibly a gay couple but it's a bit unclear). Without ruining it for you, Todd needs to run away from the town and that's mainly what the book is about.

There's a LOT of repetition in this book and it got really old - and I'm a person who likes repetition. But, ultimately I thought I would tear out my hair if I had to read one more
...I could finish falling down that pit, down down down til there's only blackness, down into the nowhere where there's no more Todd to blame or screw things up or fail Ben or fail Viola...
Or, God forbid:
And I can't hold it back--
And the hate --
And I look over --
At the knife --
Just a few feet away --
On the ledge --

etc. I mean, honestly. Come on.

So, that drove me insane, and I'm quite sure this rather long (almost 500 pages) book could easily have been a decent 300 if they'd cut out some of that nonsense.

But, what I really LIKED was how this misogynous world and its consequences was created. Essentially, I believe Ness was writing a book about the culture of hatred toward women and, unlike, for example, those horrid Stieg Larsson books which are also ostensibly about a culture of violence toward women, but, as I've previously said, end up contributing to that very culture in the form of extremely graphic portrayals of that very violence. Ness manages to describe that world without reveling in the gory details.

He also does very interesting things with text to illustrate how the thoughts of so many men can get jumbled together:

Unlike The Hunger Games, which I really loved, I don't think The Knife Of Letting Go transcends that YA category. I haven't decided if I'm going to read the other books in the Chaos Walking series, but I can definitely see the appeal they have. At it's best, it reminded me of the TV series Firefly and I really enjoyed reading about the universe that was created.

1 comment:

Becky K said...

I have read this one, too. I read 1 chapter of the second book, put it down and never got back to it. But the trilogy should be complete now...I think Monsters of Men was published in September. I wasn't as into this book as I thought I would be. I'll have to pick them back up again.

And I smiled when I read that you had finished all 3 of the Hunger Games books. They are addicting!! I still wish I had been more impressed with #3. I'm bugged that Gale ended up the way he did. It seems so unauthentic, but what do I know about revolutionaries when they grow up?