Rummanah Aasi
   Have you ever had a nightmare where you're running without really knowing why but just that you have to? Or where you find out that all that you have ever known has been all lies and you can't sort out fact from fiction? Or where the bad guys won't die and go away? What's really chilling is knowing that you're in danger without knowing the real reason why. Luckily for us, we're not Todd Hewitt, the main protagonist from The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.

Description: Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

Review: It is very rare that I see a book so well liked by the majority on the YALSA listserve. I've read nothing but rave reviews about The Knife of Never Letting Go and decided to see what the fuss is all about. On the whole, it is a very entertaining, frightening, dystopian nightmare.
    Like Todd, I didn't know anything about the real history of his town, but knew that he was in danger of some sort. So for the most part, I was running beside him trying to figure out the little pieces of the puzzle. It's not until the last 100 pages or so do you really find out why Todd is running and is in danger, but by then I had already put the pieces of the puzzle together.
    Although the first part of the book runs a little slow and confusing, the pace picks up at a feverish pace once Todd finds more uncovered secrets. The emotional, physical, and intellectual drama is well crafted and nonstop throughout the novel. Todd, who narrates in a vulnerable and stylized voice, due to the town's shut down on all education, is a sympathetic character who makes a few grave mistakes. Manchee, Todd's talking loyal dog, and Aaron, a zealot preacher, are both characters and serve as symbols.

  The novel ends with a cliffhanger, which makes sense since it's the first book in a trilogy. I plan to read the rest of the series at some point. The story arc of The Knife of Never Letting Go isn't very different. It reminded me a lot of the themes found in classics like Lord of the Flies, Frankenstein, and 1984. Nevertheless, if you're looking for a well written dystopian novel look no further. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language in the book. There is also pretty graphic violence (just a little over the top of Hunger Games). I'd recommend this to strong 8th grade readers and up.

If you like this book try: The Ask and the Answer by Patric Ness or Y: The Last Man by Brian Vaughan



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