Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Audiobook rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Narrator: Nick Podehl
First, I want to point out, this review will contain a MAJOR spoiler. So, if you rather discover this travesty on your own, skip this review. I normally do my absolute best to not give spoilers, but this particular incident almost made me not finish the book. I had to leave it for a week or two and try again.
My previous experience with Patrick Ness was emotional, yet pleasant. I enjoyed A Monster Calls so much that I was excited to begin The Knife of Never Letting Go. A lot of my friends also enjoyed this series, and it came highly recommended.
If you are like me, you like to read what other people say about a book. Generally, this doesn’t bias me or how I perceive a story, but helps me to understand what others feel and if it is the same as me. In my research, one such reviewer mentioned about the bad grammar. Let me point out, the author’s grammar is not bad in this book. I think the reviewer missed something. Young Todd is not educated, and since this story is told from Young Todd’s point of view, the grammar should reflect his level of knowledge. Further, Young Todd is the youngest and only boy remaining to become a man in Prentistown. The mayor of Prentistown banned education long ago, so unfortunately, Todd’s grammatical abilities are sub-par and that is being generous!
From the very beginning, I was confused about this book. Information was very slowly given along the way. Having said that, I understand why it was written that way. Todd only knows one way of life. In fact, he believed that Prentistown was the only town in New World. This town also has no women. On New World, you can hear each other’s thoughts, including the animals. Todd has a dog named Manchee. Manchee was my favorite character. The narrator really brought Manchee to life.
Now, the rest of the review is complicated because I don’t like writing book reports for a review. Todd is close to becoming a man. He is very excited for this, but doesn’t understand what it means yet. Upon returning home from a trip to the swamp, after hearing an absolute silence he couldn’t explain, his surrogate father, Ben, told him that he had to leave. Ben gave Todd a journal that Todd’s mother kept while she was still alive in hopes for it to help save Todd one day when the time came. Ben never really explained why, so Todd was very confused and upset for most of the story. Todd and Manchee ran towards the swamp trying to escape. The mayor has a group of men already coming for him. When he gets into the swamp, he finds that eerie silence again. He discovers it’s a GIRL! So, Todd becomes even more confused because there weren’t any girls in New World. They all got ill and died. So he he was taught. After a rough start, the two team up and discover there is a town nearby and run for it. In this town, Todd discovers MORE females. He also discovers that people from Prentistown are not well liked. He doesn’t understand it and no one is willing to explain it to him. One such man in this new town tries to attack and kill Todd. The ever faithful Manchee attempts to protect Todd and gets injured. Poor Manchee gets injured a lot coming to his friend’s aid.
Here is the spoiler: Manchee gets killed. Beyond killed, Manchee is murdered. A lot happens to Todd, Viola (the girl) and Manchee. At a pivotal point in this story, Viola is taken by Prentistown’s preacher, Aaron. Todd and Manchee devise a plan to save her. It works up until the point when Todd is attempting to get into a boat and Aaron grabs him. Manchee tears at Aaron. Rips at his throat. But in one wrong move, Aaron gets the leg up and grabs Manchee by the neck. Aaron tells Todd it is the girl or the dog. Todd just leaves. He just leaves his dog to die.
I listened to this book. Manchee’s character was so enjoyabl. Just writing that bit of the review brings me to tears and I can hear Manchee’s last question when he realizes Todd is leaving him to die…his very last….”Todd?”
You know, I can accept the death of a beloved character. I really can. What i can’t stand about this death is that Todd didn’t even try to save them both. He just chose the stranger over a loyal companion he has had for years. This death brought my already low rating down even more.
The book ends with a massive cliffhanger, so be ready. The ending infuriated me and made me that much angrier at Manchee’s death. The massive confusion I had towards the beginning of the book eventually started making since right after Manchee’s death.
Overall, the book was good. It was. Todd and Viola’s character growth was good and what I would expect out of a character that had to face the situations that they did. I just don’t enjoy being confused for 33 of the 42 chapters in a book. Something has to give. Sure, I figured some things on my own. So my level of confused frustration brought my rating down a bit more.
I do suggest listening to this book over reading. Nick Podehl really brings the characters to life. I would listen to him again. I think being able to place a voice to the characters gives a much stronger impact of emotions when something happens in a book. That is something Patrick Ness has down pat as an author—making you feel exactly what the character does as they are experiencing it.