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Reading Buddies Wrap-Up: “The Knife of Never Letting Go” by Patrick Ness

Reading Buddies ButtonBeware; the following post will contain spoilers for The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, book 1 of the Chaos Walking series. Read at your own risk!

Whew! That was one heck of a story, wasn’t it? I couldn’t tear myself away. My thoughts on this one are, I think, best shared in bullet point rather than paragraph form, so here it goes:

  • I liked the book and couldn’t put it down, but I didn’t love it in the way I love Graceling by Kristin Cashore or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I think that might be because I didn’t love any character excessively. I certainly rooted for Todd and Viola, but I didn’t love either the way I do Katsa and Katniss.
  • The book didn’t go in any direction I’d expected. A new planet? Aliens? Settlers? Not what I’d expected, not usually my cup of tea, yet I was surprisingly fine with it.
  • Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (cover)The story was much more violent than I’d expected, too. There seemed to be a lot of death, violence, and graphic description, which I hadn’t been anticipating and was a little surprised to find. Not a problem for me, just not what I was expecting.
  • Every once in a while I got tired of the whole chase thing. Really, the whole book was one big long chase scene. A gripping one, for sure, but still. It was a lot of pages of Todd and Viola trying to outrun an army.
  • I continued to enjoy the way Noise was explored, how characters related to one another when Noise was involved, how Noise affected everything. In my first post on The Knife of Never Letting Go, I mentioned the connection between Noise and our contemporary environment of nonstop information. I really liked how Ness kept that theme part of the story without becoming too preachy or overt about it.
  • I really wanted Aaron to go away. And then, when he finally did, I kept worrying he’d come back. It seemed to me there was something inhuman (superhuman?) about him, the way he just kept coming, even with his face hanging off in shreds. He was one of the scariest monster-type villains I’ve encountered in a long time.
  • Oh, Manchee…why did you have to go? I loved Manchee, loved his comic relief and his fierce little loyalty. I think his death hit me hardest. I kept hoping he’d come back. Amanda shared a theory last time that if you like Manchee, you’ll like the series; if not, you won’t. Does that hold true for you? It certainly did for me.
  • The end…what?? I’d been thinking maybe I wouldn’t continue with the series, but after I finished the last page, I knew I’d keep going. I actually finished The Knife of Never Letting Go in bed late one night and used my phone to order The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men, the rest of the trilogy, before going to sleep! The ending definitely took me by surprise and made me curious to see where Ness would go from there.

I’ve now finished The Ask and the Answer (which I liked better than The Knife of Never Letting Go) and am about half way through Monsters of Men. I really like the direction in which Ness has taken the series and am anxious to see how he concludes it. Though, honestly, I’m not any more attached to the characters themselves than I was during The Knife of Never Letting Go. Still, the story is ridiculously gripping, the themes keep me fascinated, and I’m really not sure how Ness is going to get his characters out of the mess they’re in.

So, what did you think of The Knife of Never Letting Go? Will you be (are you already) continuing the series? Feel free to jump in, whether or not you officially read this one with Reading Buddies! Reading Buddies reviews (if I’ve missed yours, just let me know!):

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  • http://kristilovesbooks.blogspot.com Kristi

    I’m about a third of the way through, so I skipped most of the post. I’ll have to come back and check it out once I’m done. So far I have been pretty intrigued. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it and that the second in the series isn’t a let down, as some are. I can’t wait to finish. I’ll most likely continue reading the series.

    • Erin

      I hope you love the rest of the book! I thought the second one was much better even than the first, and I’m glad I kept going with the series. I envy you, having so much of the story left to get to!

  • http://zenleaf.amandagignac.com Amanda

    Reading this book exhausted me. When I finished it, it would be months before the second book would come out, so I didn’t have the option to just keep going. I probably would have otherwise, just because the end was so abrupt. I felt pretty much the same way as you about all points except Manchee. I was glad he was gone because he annoyed me completely (I know, I’m heartless aren’t I?). Because I had months to wait before reading the second book, the negative aspects of the first ended up taking over in my head. There was no one real wonderful point, and I’d ended up giving the book 3 stars right after first reading. When I tried to read the second book, it started in right away with the constant barage of information, and I knew I didn’t have it in me to go through this a second time, so I just quit. I’ve never had any desire to try these books again. I’m not a huge fan of being dragged through a series by the author, you know?

    • Erin

      Honestly, I’m not sure I’d have continued with the second book if it hadn’t already been out. And if I’d found the second book was set up similarly to the first (one big chase), I’d most likely have put it down. But I really enjoy all the ideas Ness is playing with, which is mostly what keeps me going. I find it’s a series I get very into when I’m reading it, but if I can make myself put it down, I don’t have much trouble staying away. The story and even the characters don’t interest me as much as the world and situations Ness has created do. I can see where, if the whole premise didn’t grab you, you wouldn’t want to keep going. Though we’ll always differ on the point of Manchee, I fear! :-)

  • http://www.ragingbibliomania.net/ zibilee

    I bought the first two books in this series for my kids, hoping that I could snag them when they were done. It hasn’t happened yet, but they have been anxious to read the last installment, and I think I am going to buy it for them for Easter. I actually can’t wait to read these as well.

    • Erin

      Ooh, with all three books in the house, you’ll be good to go! I really like all the ideas Ness plays with in the series. I think as a younger reader I’d have been very wrapped up in the plot, but as an adult I’m much more interested in other aspects. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts when you do get to this series!

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

    I posted a link to my series review which is probably a bit odd, but reading the first had me re-reading the entire series in a week. I really enjoy this story. I found it very…original.

    • Erin

      Nope, series review is fine! I’m waiting until I finish Monsters of Men (soon, I swear!) before I head over and read your review. I’m looking forward to what you have to say! And yes…original is a great word, and I think that’s part of what I like so much about the series. It’s the premise, the world Ness created, that interests me more than the plot or characters do.

  • http://lostinagoodstory.blogspot.com/ Joanna

    I didn’t read your post because of the spoilers, but just wanted to say hi and to add that I still love the Reading Buddies idea and want to do one with you… I suppose I should just choose one and get on with it otherwise it’ll never happen!

    • Erin

      Hi back! Thanks for stopping by to express continued interest :-) Of course I’d love to have you along, if there’s an upcoming book that catches your fancy! No need to “RSVP”…you can just jump in as the mood strikes you. Or not…up to you!

  • http://www.lovelaughterinsanity.com Trish

    I had many of the same thoughts as you, but when I got to the ending I decided I just couldn’t handle another perpetual chase scene. You’re not the first person to say that they’ve liked the second book better so maybe I should give it a try. Probably not for a loooooong time, though!

    And while I didn’t not like Manchee, I was already so annoyed with Aaron that I wasn’t much fazed by what happened. not sure if that fits into Amanda’s theory, but guess it does in a way?

    • Erin

      You know, the second one actually isn’t a perpetual chase scene. If that’s what you’re worried about, I think you can continue the series without fear. I got a little tired of the endless chase thing, too, and was relieved when the second book shifted gears. I just think Ness deals with a lot of interesting stuff, which has kept me going more than the story itself.

      Ugh, I hated Aaron! I hate that he has my name. I had to pronounce it New York style in my head (the initial sound like the vowel in “hat” rather than “air”) to distinguish. I do think your experience fits with Amanda’s theory. It sounds to me like if you LOVE Manchee (as opposed to just not particularly disliking him) for her theory to predict you’ll also love the book :-)

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

    I haven’t given up yet! Just a little sloooooooow (me that is, not the book!). Excited to discuss soon!

    • Erin

      No worries! This is supposed to be fun! :-)

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

        I finished before the end of the month and then forgot to come and post! Still need to write up a review for our site, but in the meantime…. I loved it! Even though I was ever so slightly annoyed by the cliffhanger of an ending, I still think this is one of my favorite recent reads. I LOVED Manchee. Couldn’t stand him in the first chapter but he grew on me quick. I started off reading this in book form and then switched to audiobook about mid-way so that I could listen while gardening and then Aaron snapped Manchee’s neck and I was caught crying while weeding. So sad. I agree about Aaron too – the superhumanness of him coming back time and time again (especially after the croc attack!). I like both Viola and Todd, but I found that I especially like them as a duo. I like the whole noise concept too – especially the idea of Viola as odd because you can’t tell everything she’s thinking – there were times when I caught myself buying into the idea that her silence was unusual. I’m planning to someday move on to The Ask and The Answer, but I’m not feeling a rush to dive in perhaps because I have absolutely no sense of where things are headed. Anyway, thanks for organizing this reading buddies read so that I could finally get around to reading this wonderful book!

        • Erin

          Em, I’m so glad you loved this one! Ohhhh, I was so sad about Manchee. I can just imagine you sobbing into your garden! I do have to say, I liked the series even more as it progressed, so I’d definitely recommend continuing at some point :-)

  • http://jennysbooks.wordpress.com Jenny

    I like Manchee, but it took me a while to warm up to him, and at the times when I didn’t like him, I still liked the book. Does that scupper the theory or confirm it?

    • Erin

      I think it confirms it. Maybe adds to it? Perhaps there’s a middle level of people who like Manchee and like the book, but don’t LOVVVVVE either.

  • http://Www.lifewithbooks.com Jenners

    I personally loved Manchee!!!! So many of my own thoughts mirrored what you said in your post. I’m not in love with the series but felt compelled to finish it. (I’m about three quarters through Monsters of Men now.) unlike many trilogies that get weaker as they go along (I’m looking at you Hunger Games!!!), I actually thought this one got better and better. I liked how Ness brought in Viola’s voice in book 2 and the Return’s voice in Book 3. I sure am curious how this is going to all shake out…is the Mayor really changing? I suspect not but I do wonder.

    • Erin

      Aw, I’m one of the people who felt Hunger Games was good just the way it was, but I’m definitely in the minority! I agree, Chaos Walking just kept getting better. I loved the adding of voices, too. Overall, I just thought it was fascinating and well done.