Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go

Pages: 479
Author: Patrick Ness
Goodreads: Review
Series: Chaos Walking (#1)
Publisher: Candlewick

In my heart of hearts (somewhere in that deep dark black soul I seem to have sometimes when reviewing books I've vehemently disliked) I don't know if this is a full five stars for me, and yet, it feels inaccurate to even think of giving it a four. I've got a rule with books to follow my heart and not my head. If a book demands my attention and the characters worm their way into my good graces and I'm worried for them, or I cry for them, then yeah, that book is getting those five shiny stars. But let's not get distracted by the shiny things like wayward Dory fish. This novel isn't without its flaws.

"What are these men doing in an army?"

Let me first gush over Ness' theme here: War. All of the ways in which he explores it. The Spackle scene most notably, a scene that made me feel physically ill and watered my eyes, the same way I'd feel after hearing stories of a similar nature on the non-fiction news. Because it's so true. It's so applicable to everything. Do you know how many Americans I've heard throw out slurs against people from the Middle East without batting an eyelash? Unnecessary wars and the terrorist acts of a few made it this way. It put weapons in the hands of boys and girls who, like Todd, had to accept the consequences of wielding them. It put hateful words in the mouths of people who wouldn't have ever called themselves racists. This book explores the lies we're told and how hard some people cling to them. How hard otherwise good people can cling to their hate when they've known nothing else.When their leaders and parents have told them this is how they should feel; and their loved ones have been sent to die at the hands of people who weren't the enemy. When people have written songs of putting boots in asses and how, don't you know, that's the American way? Making monsters of men.

"Somehow preaching became a movement and a movement became a war."

Let's talk about a brighter point. Manchee the talking dog. Manchee Manchee Manchee. I love him. Oh wait, that's not a brighter point. I hate this book. Why am I reviewing it? I better move past this point before I take away stars. Emotional manipulation is no one's friend, Ness. Cheap shot.

Viola Viola Viola. If you care for her at all, you'll read her short story: The New World. Lady badass with snarky intelligence and a good heart who not only rescues but is rescued. I like her friendship with Todd too. Particularly when he tells the sexist camp that she's not his but her own and when he realizes he can read her too. Orphans who make their own family. My poor heart.

My main issue with this novel is the ending. There isn't one. This book was basically one long chase scene with bad guys everywhere and for all Ness' preaching about Hope there wasn't an ounce of it in his novel. There wasn't, I swear, I looked.

I also want to mention that it took me some time to get into this book and I ended up putting it aside. It wasn't until I read the prequel that my interest was piqued and I had to know what happened. If you've put this book aside before I recommend reading that so you know more about Viola and it might give you the push you need to continue too.

"War is a monster. War is the devil. It starts and it consumes and it grows and grows. And otherwise normal men become monsters too."


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