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The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

THE STORY:

A dystopian thriller follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard β€” and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret.

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him β€” something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

WHY I LOVED IT:

I really can’t say enough good things about this series. Cloaked in the awkward, sometimes illiterate musings of Todd (the main character in Book 1) are some deeply truthful and poetic thoughts. Once you get started, the pace in both books is relentless, with something sinister and horrific around every corner. What strikes me most is how Ness balances the complex nature of power and manipulation within such deceptively simple text. After finishing The Knife of Never Letting Go, while anxious to read on (left, as I was, with a terrible cliff hanger), I wondered if the second book, The Ask and the Answer could deliver. It absolutely did so. Where the first book skewered its way into my psyche, forcing questions about humanity and sacrifice and loyalty, the second book amps things up even further, with an antagonist whose quiet, serene control is even more frightening than the thunderously appalling nature of the beast who followed Todd and Viola through the first. Equally mesmerizing is the deft manner in which Ness never permits us to put simple labels on good and evil, forcing readers to dig deeper into their understanding of what it means to be human.

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