Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking series starts with this piece of brilliance.
Knife of Never Letting Go shows what breaking the rules can do for your story. The book also proves that YA really can be a solid genre that, like Romance, deserves more credit than it’s given.
It’s part science fiction, part fantasy, part dystopian YA. And ALL beautifully executed.
The Good: I’ve put off writing this review for months because I have nothing negative to say.
Pacing: In true YA fashion, it’s very fast paced. The story line keeps you riveted. Things are revealed so often and so quickly and IN YOU FACE, you struggle to even put it down. And at nearly 500 pages, you have to put it down at some point.
Concept: The Noise is a fun, unique concept that I can’t help think it’s a play on Social Media and the overabundance of ‘noise’ and information that we’re bombarded with every day.
Narration: Not only is narration from a poorly educated young man which leads to constant misspelling of words (which you adjust to quickly), but the narration, you quickly realize is ACTUALLY what the character is thinking at the MOMENT he’s thinking it. Several secondary characters even bring it up. That’s so brilliant! It’s actually the character telling you the story as he’s telling himself what’s going on and what he’s thinking. It’s a stream of consciousness style without the painful inability to keep up with the author or the story.
YA Gold: The coming of age story is so poignant, so spot on, so everything. There is so much to learn for young readers in terms of what makes a person an adult, what makes you honorable, choices, life, love, hate, death, trust, etc. And none of it’s thrown in your face as it can sometimes be.
And for the YA critics who hate sex and gratuitous vulgarity in their YA. You’re OK here. Granted, there are a few swear words, but they are tasteful and very appropriate (Nothing like Grasshopper Jungle or Winger). And the sex is so nonexistent. Though, be prepared, the violence is extreme.
The Bad: And this isn’t bad by any means in terms of writing. But it’s a warning to the reader who might decide to now read this book.
- Be prepared for a very sad middle. I’m not going to spoil it, but trust me. Ness has even said that he STILL gets LOTS of negative reactions over this one important character’s…inevitable…situation.
- Have the next book (The Ask and the Answer) ready and in your hands. Knife of Never Letting Go ends on such a cliffhanger that you’ll go batty until you get Book 2.
Conclusion: There are 2 YA series I keep coming back to as probably the most perfectly executed groups of novels devised thus far. Chaos Walking series is one of those 2 series!
I tend to enjoy stories heavy in political/social commentary and this series STILL makes the cut as one of the best even though it’s not heavy handed in this respect. Other than the …inevitable…situation of one of the characters, I can’t image a single reader walking away disappointed with this book. There’s so much to learn, to enjoy, to imagine, to engross yourself in.