Summary: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness is the story of Todd Hewitt, who is actually the only boy in his town of Prentisstown. In this world, all the women are dead due to a war between a native species of their settlement, the Spackle. However, there is a side effect for the survivors, which is something called the “Noise,” which means that all the men could hear each others thoughts. One day Todd and his dog Manchee (whose voice he could also hear) come across a swamp and in it, they meet a girl, Viola. Soon, it is revealed that Todd knows too much about what really happened and has to escape from the town . He goes on an adventure to learn the truth behind the “Noise.”
Strengths: The genre of this book is science fiction, in the sense of a dystopian world, a popular young adult genre. This story follows the criteria of what makes a good science fiction novel quite well. For example, the characters. Todd Hewitt and Viola are well written teenagers. They both have their own personal struggles as they are at that age where they can still be considered children, but are just beginning to have that adult mindset. The antagonists of the story are also believable characters. They have proper motives and aren’t as one-dimensional alot of villains in dystopian novels are. The book also follows the criteria for a dystopian novel, in which there are rules that must be followed. In this books case, it is the “Noise” that all men hear and the fact that when they reach a certain age, they enter manhood and the learn the “truth.”
Connections to Text: This dystopian novel takes place in a land called the “New World,” which is reminiscent of the New World in our times. This New World is also settled by Christians from the Old World, so the setting of this book is an allusion to our own history. When it comes to adolescent development (and most yound adult dystopian novels), there is usually a love story or a love triangle, but in this book, the closest we get to that is the strong friendship that is formed between Todd and Viola. Todd is also developing a new mindset in which he is becoming more self-aware of his world and starting to question it.
Ness, P. (2008). The knife of never letting go. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press