Friday, June 27, 2008

Patrick Ness - The Knife of Never Letting Go

Will Patrick Ness's The Knife of Never Letting Go be one of the next mega crossover sellers, a young adult book with an adult readership?
He breaks Evelyn Waugh's golden writing rule ... never kill off your characters because you only ever get one set. But then who knows, throughout the book the arch villain kept emerging from an apparent grave.
He adheres to one of my own golden rules for success ... incorporate a major chase sequence. The whole yarn is in fact a sustained chase.
It's one of those futureworld books that is set in a world that reflects the past. This world is like pioneering midwest America of the late nineteenth century, armies of men and dust and horses. It's not necessarily Earth but any spaceships have crashed and for now are part of the past. A boy and a girl flee the boy's township, along with his talking dog (a great character), in an apparent bid not to succumb to the town's evil. The township of evil men needs the boy to complete itself. The thoughts of men are all audible as NOISE.
It's well done. The endless chase keeps you from wondering what it is actually about, and by the end you realize the chase simply needs to go on through subsequent books. I did feel somewhat cheated of a resolution ... you finish a 400+ page book and you don't really want to know you're merely part way through. It's up there with John Wyndham though (it put me in mind of THE CHRYSALIDS) and The Tales of Alvin Maker by Orson Scott Card, which I enjoyed through its fourth volume where I felt it was running out of steam, running without going anywhere. That's still my question with Todd Hewitt, the kid in The Knife of Never Letting Go (and what a tough title that has been to remember). I was caught up in the fantasy, but wonder if it will lift beyond that and give me a sense of actually getting somewhere.


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