The Knife of Never Letting Go

Author: Patrick Ness
Performer/Reader: Nick Podehl
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
CDs: 10 (12 hours)
Pub Date: 10/28/2010 and 9/13/2011

Fascinated, engrossed, emotionally affected, and admiring are some of the adjectives I associated with the experience of listening to this brilliant book, and its equally brilliant reader performer, Nick Podehl.  Podehl chose a rustic set of tones for all of his characters. With slight variations for each speaking role, he is entirely convincing as the innocent and willful Todd, the mild, intelligent but bewildered Viola, the the crazed cult leader Aaron, the faithful dog Manchee, and a host of other supporting characters.  Of course, the power of the story comes largely from the author: the imagination that created this futuristic and yet backward world, the skilled hand that penned the breathtaking pace which will NOT let go of the reader’s heart, and the thoughtful mind that wove in so many issues and themes for the readers to ponder.I find the device of the “virus” that forcefully and artificially separates men and women and how they share/not share their thoughts with others ingenious, and as a female reader, agreeing with some of the scenarios.  (I wonder how male readers view this aspect.)Manchee the dog is endearing and with such a sorrowful fate which gives the book and Todd one powerful push in the direction it/he needs to move.  I can’t wait to listen to the rest of the trilogy!  (And my apologies to Monica for not heeding her enthusiastic recommendation for the past couple of years to read this series much earlier!)
This is a thrilling dystopian science fiction story with a very Western flavor: the characters carry rifles, farm the land, and have abandoned all modern technologies in a far off planet in an uncertain (but must be very distant) future. Lots of harrowing scenarios, people (and animals) die, and it ends with a gigantic cliff hanger.  It touches on the topics of religion, of organized crimes, of government styles, of how men and women interact, and of the nature of evil.


Filed under Book Notes

3 responses to “The Knife of Never Letting Go

  1. Gee, and I thought I was the last to read The Knife of Never Letting Go! I agree. Podehl was brilliant. I was glad that I wasn’t driving when I got to the Manchee scene. I screamed, “What!?! Then I sobbed.

    I ended up listening to all three one after the other and felt wrung dry by the end. Had to take a short break from dystopian.

    The co-narrators for the next two were excellent as well. McLeod Andrews, Podehl’s co-narrator on will grayson, will grayson performs on Monsters of Men.


    • And I got to meet them both at the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder dinner this year! I am glad that I hadn’t listened to the recordings by then. Otherwise I would have been too star-struck to be able to say anything sensible in the conversation!


  2. Glad to know that I, too, am not the last on the planet to read/listen to these books. It was Donalyn Miller whose advice I did not heed. And I WAS driving during the Manchee scene. Driving and yelling and sobbing. I immediately went to Audible for The Ask and the Answer and I’m listening to it now. Not a fun book so far. No fun at all. But I trust Patrick Ness to tell me a great story, even if I don’t like what happens in it.


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