Hey everyone! Today’s guest post is going to be by my fiancé, Jorge. Haha. Jorge is a little shy to write a bio about himself so I figured I would brag about him for you guys for just a moment, haha. Jorge G. is a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Research and works in higher ed. He received his Master’s degree in Sustainable Communities in 2018 from NAU. But beyond all of that he is a big book lover and movie buff and really enjoys science fiction and fantasy books and movies. So today he is going to give you a little review of one of his favorite books on what I call our “Bookshelf #1” in our place, which I made a post about here if you’d like to give it a look.
Lauren asked me to do a guest post on her blog, which was incredibly flattering. I feel a bit nervous starting to write as Lauren is the creative and author in her family but thought I would give it a try. I am going to be into one of the books found on the top of our famous rainbow shelf. Lauren is always finding ways to beautify our home and the rainbow shelf is one of those ideas. Every time I look at it, I feel so lucky to have someone with a great decorating mind and who loves to do acts of service. The books on the top are mostly books for my research and graduate work. We have books on the effects of gentrification on Hispanic communities in New York City, Barrio Dreams, sci-fi short stories from progressive feminists, Sisters of the Revolution, and of course the book I will be talking about today: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness.
I picked up the book at the amazing independent bookstore Blue Cypress in New Orleans (where you can also find copies of Lauren’s book Chimera in New Orleans). As happens many times I felt some kind of connection to the book due to its art and immediately felt I would love it. This intuition has led me to find some great things and read books which I never knew I would be interested in. If you have the means and you ever feel a small voice in the back of your head telling you to get a book, I say go for it! I got incredibly engrossed in the book and finished it in the span of a couple of days. The book is a dark science fiction book which starts off a trilogy and admirably pulls of having nuanced characters, a strong plot, and doing engrossing world building.
The book is a first in a trilogy known as the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness. The main conceit of the book is that everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts. Whatever you are thinking moves outwards like a psychic soundwave and the stronger the feelings around the thought, the “louder” it will be. The reason given for this in the book is a biological weapon used by the alien race The Spackle, which live in the marshes surrounding the main village. The mental “Noise,” as it is called, means that all of the individuals live in a village which is completely without secrets and without privacy. To add to the weirdness of this situation our main character lives in a town completely devoid of women being told they died from the biological attack. The town has a strict and repressive code of ethics with a nihilist attitude as the individuals know they are doomed as there are no more women.
I wrote that last paragraph about 10 different times to make sure not to get any spoilers. It is hard to talk about a lot of what I love about the book without it getting spoiled. While the book had a lot of hype, I was lucky to go in completely blind without any knowledge of what was going to happen. I would recommend that you read as little as possible about the book if you can and go in blind. The book creates a vibrant, dark, detailed world which expands incredibly quickly as the story progresses while never making you feel lost or letting you forget the stakes. The book also explores the concept of the “Noise” beautifully, really taking it to its limits and using it to advance the story while maintaining internal consistency.
I do have some mild complaints. The book is the first in a trilogy and while I loved it, I do not know if I will read the rest. The main aspects of the book that I love seemed to have changed by the end and I don’t know if the new direction is something I am interested in. The word building and world mechanics aspects is a big draw for me and once that is fleshed out, I don’t know if the characters are strong enough to continue. Also, while the book does have a satisfying plot on its own, the book clearly holds back or sets up plot points for future books. It can feel a bit as if you need to read every book to finally understand everything. I understand that especially with fantasy and science fiction several books is the norm but it can be frustrating when you feel you need to read over a thousand pages to get a satisfying conclusion. Other than that, I highly recommend the book and think it is a brave and creative entry into science fiction.
Find The Knife of Never Letting Go on:
Published by Candlewick
Reading Level: 14 and up
About the Author (from Amazon):
Patrick Ness is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling Chaos Walking trilogy, as well as the Carnegie Medal–winning A Monster Calls, inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd. Among the numerous awards he has received are the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he lives in London.