Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Some time ago on Twitter Donalyn Miller was raving about one of her favorite series, The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. I mentioned that I hadn’t read those yet but had read Monster Calls, which I adored. Teresa Kravtin offered, kindly, to send me the first volume, The Knife of Never Letting Go. It arrived and I kept meaning to go read it but it fell to the bottom of my “to do” list.

Fast forward to last month. Several friends in town expressed interest in a “Young Adult” book club. I set one up and our first book is The Knife of Never Letting Go. How to describe this wild ride of a story? It is to do the impossible, but let me try.

To begin I need to say, Patrick Ness, you’re a cruel, cruel man. You break my heart with these books. I don't know how in the world I missed this series when it originally came out but am so grateful that I have found it now.

This book starts with Todd who lives in a settlement called Prentisstown in the New World. In this New World your thoughts are spoken out loud in what they call "noise". It's really loud and confusing. Todd and his dog, Manchee, are forced to flee Prentisstown and discover the truth about themselves and this society.

The first 60 pages or so I was constantly asking myself, "What the heck is going on?" I was so confused and so much didn't make sense. I persevered and am so glad I did. I think this is an excellent lesson for my students. They often want to understand the story immediately, or don’t recognize that they are confused. I was very conscious of that as I read. I’d find kernels of information that I would file away and figured they’d all come together in the end. (And boy did they ever.)

This is a book that will stay with me long after I have finished. However, I would recommend having book two and three close at hand. I threw this one down in frustration on the last page - a bit of a cliffhanger you could say. Todd, Manchee, (and other characters I won’t name here) are characters you won’t forget. This is an amazing series not to be missed.

Finally, I think Teresa Kravtin said it best when I tweeted her that I finished. She sent me these two tweets back, and she is so right.