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Reading Buddies Discussion: “The Knife of Never Letting Go” by Patrick Ness

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Welcome, Knife of Never Letting Go Reading Buddies! How are you enjoying the book so far?

I’ll admit, I actually wrote most of this post a week ago, when I got to the end of Part IV. I wanted so badly to tear through to the end of the book, but I knew that if I did, I wouldn’t be able to remember what had happened and which things had been revealed at what point. So I made myself stop and write out my thoughts up to that point. The Knife of Never Letting Go is, I think, one of those books where once you know something, you can’t go back to unknowing it. I have now finished the book, so have no fear about including later spoilers in your comments (just warn about them for anyone who hasn’t finished, please!). This post, however, will focus on Parts I-IV.

Initially I had trouble reading The Knife of Never Letting Go. Todd’s particular way of speaking and the way his narration is written out seemed awkward, and I had to slow down a bit. Once I got used to it, though, I found myself whizzing right along. I especially like the font used for Noise; it seems to fit perfectly.

As I began to understand what Noise was and what a world full of it was like, I thought of our modern world and how it’s sometimes so difficult to avoid our own particular type of Noise: email, Twitter, television, Facebook, etc. Everyone’s thoughts are flying every which way all the time. Turns out that’s what Patrick Ness was thinking too when he wrote The Knife of Never Letting Go. As I was flipping through the book after reading a few chapters, I came across Patrick Ness’s bio on the back cover. He has this to say about the book’s premise:

“Information is absolutely everywhere today–texts and e-mails and messaging–so much it feels like you can’t get away from it. I began to wonder what it would be like to be in a town where you really couldn’t get away. How could you keep hold of who you are? What price would you be willing to pay to save yourself?”

I’m enjoying seeing how his characters struggle with different situations Noise puts them in. For instance, I’m interested by how Todd perceives Viola’s silence. In chapter 10 (p. 102 in my paperback version), Todd says:

“Say you were standing on a hilltop with someone who had no Noise. Would it be like you were alone there? How would you share it? Would you want to? I mean, here we are, the girl and I, heading outta danger and into the unknown and there’s no Noise overlapping us, nothing to tell us what the other’s thinking. Is that how it’s sposed to be?”

As I read, I took a moment to think about Todd’s questions. It was intriguing to consider our own way of being in a new light.

Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (cover)

Later on, in chapter 22 (p. 242 in my copy), Todd thinks about lying. In his world, truth and lies float around together in men’s Noise so that no one can tell them apart. Everyone lies, so no one really worries about it. But with someone like Viola, who has no Noise, that ability to see truth and lies mixing is gone. Someone interacting with her can only go by her words; there’s no clues as to what’s true and what’s not. I found that concept fascinating to consider as well.

I think my favorite character so far is Manchee. Every time he barks something, I think of Doug from the movie Up. I’ve assigned that same kind of dense loyalty that Doug displays to Manchee, and the effect is quite endearing. My least favorite, on the other hand, is absolutely Aaron. He’s terrifying, and I get the sense he’s not just a regular man. There’s something scary and sinister going on with him. I’m not sure I want to know what it is…I just want him to go away.

What’s stood out for you in the book so far? Do you have favorite (or least favorite) characters or ideas?

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  • http://zenleaf.amandagignac.com Amanda

    I was sort of meh about this one when I read it, and the more time that passes, the less I liked it. I have a theory about it though – if you love Manchee, then you’ll love the series, but if you dont’ really connect with him, it won’t do much for you. I’ve found that to be true on both sides in all but one case. I didn’t really like Manchee at all, found him annoying, and so it didn’t really work for me.

    • Erin

      That’s an interesting theory about Manchee. I did love him, so I’ll have to see if I love the series, too! So far, I’m enthralled by it but I don’t feel about it the way I feel about, say, The Hunger Games. But there’s a lot going on that’s keeping me reading.

  • http://perduedansleslivres.blogspot.com virginie

    I planned to read this book with you and the other Reading Buddies. Though it is on the top of my pile, I just read a couple of pages. I guess I’ll read it later in the month. I began the Corrections though and i’ll be back in time to share your thoughts by the end of April !

    • Erin

      I’ll look forward to your thoughts on The Corrections! I’ll be posting about the rest of The Knife of Never Letting Go later in the month, if you do get a chance to read it. If not, I’ll look forward to your thoughts whenever you get to it — it’s certainly addictive!

  • http://www.lifewithbooks.com Jenners

    Well once I started reading, I couldn’t stop so I went ahead and finished the book! It was a pretty fast read, and the ending pretty much forces you to continue on with the series.

    I’m a Manchee lover!!! I thought he was so loyal and steadfast and true — and provided some much needed comic relief. (Poo, Todd? Poo?)

    I love what you said about Noise being like Twitter and e-mail and blogging and all the information that gets thrown at us. One of the reasons I struggle with Twitter is that it is just like Noise. Too much information coming at you at once. (Kind of reminds me of the Police song “Too Much Information.”)

    As far as the book itself, I got sucked into it but it started feeling a bit repetitive for me. I wasn’t IN LOVE with the book but I got sucked into, which are two different things I suppose.

    As far as the pertickular way that Todd speaks, I kind of enjoyed that. I guess it shows that he is not well educated and lived in a rural area.

    I did like when we finally started getting information on New World and how they came to be there. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting actually. It threw Viola’s “sophistication” and technology into stark contrast to how Todd and the earlier settlers were living. Though it was jarring when Todd offhandedly mentions fissionbikes when you feel like he is living such a basic farming life.

    One thing I have to say is that nobody seems to really die in this book!!! How many times can Aaron keep coming back? Seriously…it was starting to get on my nerves. SPOILER NOW::::(Though I have to say that I hope it applies to Manchee as well.)::::::

    I’ll try to join in via comments the next time you have a Reading Buddy discussion (if I haven’t blanked out on the details by then) as I didn’t get a chance to write up my own post for today.

    • Erin

      I just finished the second one and am about to start the third…so yeah, I couldn’t stop either! Though I agree, I’m sucked in without being in love with the series. There’s so much interesting stuff going on in terms of ideas, but at the same time, I don’t love it the way I loved, say, The Hunger Games.

      I do love Manchee, though. I think he’s so endearing. And yes…I’m hoping the same about your spoiler, too!

      I struggle with Twitter for the same reason. Also because I can see how easy it would be to get used to constantly sharing everything. I’m not sure it’s 100% a good thing!

      The more I learn about the world where Todd lives, the less it’s what I’d expected but the more the whole situation makes sense. It’s not the direction I was thinking the book would go, but that’s ok with me.

      Oh, I got so sick of Aaron. He was just creepy. YUCK. I still don’t think he’s 100% human!

  • http://homeofaimala.blogspot.com/ Amy

    I’ve read a little bit of this book but it’s now working for me at all. Your review makes some interesting points so I’ll read some more and hopefully I’ll get interested in the story.
    Sorry!

    • Erin

      Do you like Manchee? Amanda’s theory is that if you like Manchee, you like the book; if you don’t like Manchee, you don’t like the book. I’d be interested to know if it’s true in your case!

      I can definitely see how the book wouldn’t be for everyone. It’s much bleaker, more violent, and more intense than I’d expected, and as I continue the series, there are still moments that shock me. No need to keep reading it if it’s not your thing — I understand!

  • http://loveyalit.com Em (Love YA Lit)

    I just finally finished a book that I was committed to getting through before moving on to this one! So now I can start reading and discussing! Hurray! Will check back in soon!

    • Erin

      Yay, looking forward to your thoughts!

  • http://www.eclectic-eccentric.com Trisha

    I love this book, and a lot of what you point out are the same issues which appeal to me. I love thinking about the role of information in reality. Today, people are so out-there in regards to their thoughts and hopes and dreams. We put it all on the table both the personal and the more public-knowledge kind of information. I love the connection there with The Noise.

    • Erin

      Yes, exactly. I love how Ness explores all sorts of issues through the Noise: lying, spending time with someone, “reading” people, the role of silence, etc. I think he does a great job with that whole aspect of the book. It’s a little scary how not so far away from that sort of state we are…

  • http://www.thebooknerdclub.blogspot.com mummazappa

    I’m not doing the read along as I’ve read the whole series awhile back now, but just wanted to say how excited I am that you’re reading it. I absolutely adored this series, your discussion makes me want to re-read it now :-)

    • Erin

      Feel free to jump in with the discussion if you’d like! It’s not limited only to people who are reading the book right now. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

  • Anita

    *SPOILER ALERT*
    I just finished this book, and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I found it incredibly absorbing — I loved the fast-paced plot and I really loved the narrative style.

    I do feel like it lost some momentum for me, though, in the second half. I agree with Jenners that it seems as if nobody ever dies — Aaron, in particular, despite losing large portions of his face, keeps popping back up like a villain in a bad horror film. And it felt a little dishonest to me when Ben showed up after we thought he’d been dead for so many chapters. Just didn’t feel right. His whole thing about “hope” felt a little maudlin to me, too, a little sentimental in a book that is otherwise so honest and spare.

    Having said that, though, I absolutely intend to go on to the next one as soon as possible! So I guess I ultimately liked the book a lot! :)

    • Erin

      Yes, I agree about Aaron. I kept thinking we’d find out something about him that explained why he could continue to pursue Todd with such intensity in spite of his horrible injuries. I didn’t mind about Ben, though–I liked the little pop of happiness and hope that his appearance provided.

      I’m liking the narrative style (once I got used to it) and all the ideas Ness is playing with, mostly based on the Noise. And I’m definitely hooked…I just finished book 2 and will be moving on to book 3 next :-)