21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories

The International Writers Magazine: Fiction Review
WINNER of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2008 - September 24th
Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal Nov 4th

Winner of the BookTrust Prize 2008

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
496 pages - Publisher: Walker Books Ltd (Hardcover May 5, 2008)
ISBN-13: 978-1406310252
Now in paperback: Walker Books Ltd; (Nov 2008);
Pages: 496 ISBN:1406320757; ISBN13: 9781406320756 ;

Sam North Review

Imagine 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.

Imagine that this terrible thing, this virus that kills women has infected all the men with NOISE.

Each man can hear another’s thoughts, can’t 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 don’t know from what. All you have is a backpack, a day’s food and your mother’s diary you can’t 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 don’t kill, but you run with this girl called Viola into the swamp and she takes you to her hiding place and you discover you aren’t 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.

That’s ‘The Knife of Never Letting go' – the most stunning book for young adults to come out this year and is compulsive reading. Like Stephanie Meyer’s breakout novel ‘Twilight’ that began life on the young adult shelves but is now read by anyone who ever wanted an exciting read, Patrick Ness’s ‘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.

‘It’s a girl," I say again. I’m, still catching my breath. Still feeling the pressure on my chest, definitely still holding the knife way out in front of me.
A girl.
It’s looking back at us like we’re going to kill it. It’s hunched down in a little ball, trying to make itself as small as possible...
‘What’s girl?’ Manchee barks. ‘What’s girl?’

Read this then tell others. They will soon be converted to the truth.
© Sam North June 17th 2008

*Patrick Ness visited the University of Porsmouth MA in Creative Writing programme in November 2008
The Aby Davis profile of Patrick Ness

Sam North is the editor of and his new young adult novel 'Mean Tide' is published
by Lulu Press June 2008

More Reviews


© Hackwriters 1999-2008 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility - no liability accepted by or affiliates.