This series has been sitting on my book pile for ages, all three fat books one on top of the other, and I kept putting them off since I didn’t have the time to sit and devour the entire series in one go. In the end I compromised and decided to at least read the first book and last weekend I dragged my hubby to a cafe, so he could keep my hot chocolate topped up, and dove into The Knife of Never Letting Go.

I love the title. The entire series have awesome names, the second and third book entitled The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men respectively, and that only makes these series stand out more from all the other young adult novels that seem content to have one word titles. Ness is clearly doing something right because this series has won a ton of awards too.

It would be easier to list what I don’t like about this novel. The thing that really makes this book, and I assume the series, stand apart is not necessarily the plot (which is pretty cool but does follow a typical journey narrative), but the voice of Todd. The choice of language, the construction of sentences and phrases, the sense we are actually inside Todd’s head, all together create a voice that is completely original. As a not quite thirteen year old (or a fourteen and one month year old depending which calendar used), Todd struggles on the cusp of adulthood. His actions are often immature and naive, and he makes mistakes and big ones too. Ness isn’t afraid to show how flawed his character is. The pace of the novel is steady, but I still got the sense of running out of time which built on the hopelessness that hovers beneath every scene.

My favourite character does have to be Manchee, Todd’s dog, who reminds me of Doug in the film Up especially when he is distracted by squirrels. Without him the novel would be beyond bleak, but that’s what you should expect in a dystopian novel with a dash of horror thrown in. Either way, whether that’s your cup of tea or not, The Knife of Never Letting Go is exceptionally written and shouldn’t be confined to just young adult readers but to anyone who loves a good romp through a swamp with crocodiles that talk. Because they’re not terrifying enough as is.