International Writers Magazine: Fiction
of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2008 - September 24th
Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal Nov 4th
of the BookTrust Prize 2008
Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
496 pages - Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
(Hardcover May 5, 2008)
Now in paperback: Walker Books Ltd; (Nov 2008);
Pages: 496 ISBN:1406320757; ISBN13: 9781406320756 ;
Sam North Review
you are watching a film about the first settlers in America. Pious,
hardworking farmers carving something out of a raw landscape. Notice
there are no women, the men's clothes are rough and worn, understand
something terrible has happened that has killed all the women and
left just men and one boy and his dog.
that this terrible thing, this virus that kills women has infected
all the men with NOISE.
Each man can hear
anothers thoughts, cant block them out at all, each man
can hear every animals thoughts as well and all there is is Noise that
drives men mad and reveals all secrets, so there can be no secrets and
you are that boy and in 26 days you will be a man, at thirteen and then
there will be no more boys. Your parents are dead, you have been raised
by Ben and Cillian, the farmers who lived next door to you when you
were small and they love you dearly. They give you a dog, Manchee, a
dog you resent because a dog only thinks about poo and you go into the
swamp to find apples and there you find something very strange, a place,
something living that has NO NOISE.
Imagine in this hellish life there is a mad preacher who knows the end
of time is coming and somehow, no one knows how, because he is crazy,
he thinks you have something to do with that and then, when you walk
home, everyone can read your thoughts and they know you have found something
and suddenly even though you are still a boy and done nothing
wrong, the whole village wants you dead.
Ben and Cillian pack you off. You have to leave everything you know,
everyone you love and Never Come Back and even as they are
telling you Mayor Prentiss is banging on the door demanding to speak
to you and you run, but you dont know from what. All you have
is a backpack, a days food and your mothers diary you cant
even read and then you are back in the swamp and that where you find
the impossible a girl!
And then the mad preacher Aaron is at your back trying to kill you and
the girl and you have to fight back, but you are a boy and you dont
kill, but you run with this girl called Viola into the swamp and she
takes you to her hiding place and you discover you arent living
in America, you are living in hell and she has crash landed on your
piece of hell and her parents are dead and she can hear your every thought,
but you cannot hear hers and you have to trust her and she you, and
nothing makes sense whatsoever now and your dog Manchee is the only
true pure thought you can rely on and you never even cared for the dog.
Thats The Knife of Never Letting go' the most
stunning book for young adults to come out this year and is compulsive
reading. Like Stephanie Meyers breakout novel Twilight
that began life on the young adult shelves but is now read by anyone
who ever wanted an exciting read, Patrick Nesss The Knife
of Never Letting Go is destined to reach a wider adult readership,
like Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' which could not be
confined to kids. But don't go thinking this is cute, this isn't cute,
ever. There is no giant bear coming to his rescue. Nothing is
coming to his rescue as Mayor Prentiss begins a boyhunt and leads an
army of angry men after him. It's harsh and cruel and addictive. This
is The Fugative for teens and its tough and hard. It is beautifully
written, a fantastic, grim, relentless story of a boy becoming a man
in the most extreme, hostile environment possible. His life is turned
upside down and absolutely nothing he knows for sure is real or true
and that the hardest thing to discover. Each character is finely drawn,
the language is rich and switching between thought and speech and Noise
is a fantastic literary achievement.
Its a girl," I say again. Im, still catching
my breath. Still feeling the pressure on my chest, definitely still
holding the knife way out in front of me.
Its looking back at us like were going to kill it. Its
hunched down in a little ball, trying to make itself as small as possible...
Whats girl? Manchee barks. Whats girl?
Read this then tell others. They will soon be converted to the truth.
© Sam North June 17th 2008
Ness visited the University of Porsmouth MA in Creative Writing programme
in November 2008
The Aby Davis profile of
is the editor of hackwriters.com and his new young adult novel 'Mean
Tide' is published by
Lulu Press June 2008
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