Review Detail

4.7 2
Gritty & Compelling
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What I Loved:

Told in the distinct semi-educated vernacular of the hero Todd, THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO is at once gritty, heartbreaking, compelling, and thought-provoking. At its core, the story is a coming of age tale with some elements of the Chosen One motif. It's also a look at colonization, racism, and what happens when men deviate from a society's accepted moral code and create their own. Readers will find a gold mine of thematic depths to parse, but will be so carried away by the unrelenting conflict and suspense that it may surprise them to find they've also been deeply challenged and unsettled once they turn the last page.

The character of Todd is one of the most unique voices I've come across in YA literature. Semi-educated, loyal, and afraid of the things he discovers about himself and his world, Todd's journey to manhood and the definitions he accepts and rejects about what manhood means, is fascinating and disturbing all at once. It may take readers a few chapters to settle into Todd's voice and into the rules of his world, but once he hooks a reader, he never lets go. Secondary characters are also interesting and add dimension (especially the character of Viola) but only in the sense that they add to Todd's journey of discovery. This is Todd's story--his birth from innocent boy to terrified fugitive to a young man who has gained an understanding of good and evil (his own and others) the hard way.

The world is also fascinating--an colonized planet full of familiar creatures and unfamiliar ones as well. The premise is well executed for the most part, and the pacing is relentless. Readers may need to set the story aside a few times just to take a break from the intensity, but no reader will be able to complain of boredom in a story that turns on its axis within two chapters and refuses to stop throwing curve balls from that point on.

What Left Me Wanting More:

The Chosen One motif, while secondary to the coming of age structure in this story, doesn't quite hold up to logic. While most of the story is rooted firmly in authentic character motivation, the explanation for why Todd alone attracts so much violent focus from the villains in the story strains credulity a bit. I found this didn't take away from the suspense, and there are over-arching motivations that make the plot work, so I suspect for many readers the hyper focus on Todd may not become an issue.

The ending is a tremendous cliffhanger, unusual for book one in a trilogy. Fortunately for readers who hate cliffhangers, books two and three are already available.

Final Verdict:

A unique voice, a brilliantly compelling narrative, and a gritty, nonstop adventure make THE KNIFE OF LETTING GO a must read for those who enjoy fantasy, sci fi, and coming of age adventures.
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