Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At last: an original plot, wonderfully executed, 7 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking) (Paperback)
I was given this title as a present for my 34th birthday, and was doubtful that my interest could be engaged by a book categorised as 'teenage fiction'. My misgivings were not helped by the fact that I've been left feeling rather unsatisfied by much of the fiction written for adults that I've come across lately, which I've found to be largely formulaic or, even worse, forced. However, I decided to give 'The Knife...' a go as the person who gave it to me is a pretty trustworthy source. Thankfully, I found myself immediately engaged by the story's unique premise (ably explained by plenty of previous reviewers) and its creative and skilful delivery by the author.

Ness seamlessly combines a flavour of the Wild West with a dose of Sci-Fi and interweaves this with philosophical undertones to produce a convincing and finely-crafted tale. The main characters, Todd and Viola, are in turns perplexing, intriguing, amusing and exasperating - a testament to Ness's skill for character development. One of my favourite elements of the story is the poignant portrayal of the relationship between Todd and his trusty dog, Manchee. The growing bond between the cynical, care-worn boy and his irrepressible, carefree dog is wonderfully captured in their subtle but memorable exchanges:-

'" Good poo, Todd".

"I'm sure it was, Manchee".

..."Poo," Manchee says quietly.'

Being the first of a series, 'The Knife...' ends on a cliff-hanger that is surprising, frustrating and utterly perfect. For me, the ending adds an extra, deliciously harrowing dimension to the main characters' experiences in the preceding story.

I will add one small note of caution here: the book is pitched at those of 12 and over, but contains some grisly (though not gratuitous) violence that, in my opinion, isn't really suitable for some younger readers. I certainly won't be giving this to my 12-year-old. However, adults and older teens should hopefully find this story riveting and an utterly satisfying read. I'm glad I gave it a chance - who'd have thought this 34-year-old's love of fiction could be reignited by a book written for the over-12s? I certainly won't be waiting until my 35th birthday to read the sequel.
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