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The Storybarn selects… from The Reader Bookshelf

Written by Maisie Jeynes, 13th January 2022

As part of our ongoing work exploring texts from The Reader Bookshelf, we've asked members of our Children & Young People Team to talk about their favourite children's books from the collection.

 

 

This month, our Schools Partnership Programme Manager, Samantha Wilson, tells us about The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.

“The lesson of forever and ever is that knowing a man's mind ain't knowing the man.”

Until I had read The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (winner of both the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and the Booktrust Teenage Prize) I always thought that the best superpower to have is the ability to read minds. In my version of a superhero story, communication and relationships with friends, family and strangers is improved and life would be just a bit easier without the complexities of trying to tell lies from truth and knowing for certain if someone really means it when they say they are ‘fine.’ After finishing this enthralling and unflinching novel, I am seriously reconsidering my superhero priorities and thinking that being able to fly is the way to go…

The story is set in Prentisstown, a small town devastated by a virus that led to all women being killed or banished and the remaining men cursed to hear each other’s every thought in a constant, overwhelming Noise. In this place there is no privacy, no secrets and our protagonist Todd Hewitt, the last boy in town, is days away from his thirteenth birthday and the age at which he becomes a man. He has been told all his life that the men of Prentisstown make up the last surviving settlement on their world and he has no reason to question this until he stumbles across a lone patch of silence or “a hole in the Noise.” This momentary break from the ever-present cascade of other men’s thoughts is a catalyst for change and prompts a journey of self-discovery filled with danger and questions about the nature of truth.

Written in Todd’s voice, using his unique language and speaking patterns, The Knife of Never Letting Go transported me to another world and as I drew closer and closer to the end I was more and more relieved that this is the first book in a trilogy and that the last page was not the end of the story.

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