The Knife of Never Letting Go, Essential Revision Notes

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Table of Contents

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness 4

Context 4

Summary 5

Themes and Supporting Quotations 7

Manipulation 7

Rules and Order 10

Language and Communication 13

Choice 16

Gender 19

Individual vs. Society 22

Guilt 25

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness


Patrick Ness was born in the U.S. near Fort Belvoir army base, near Alexandria, Virginia, where his father was a lieutenant the US Army. They moved to Hawaii, where he lived until he was six, then spent the next ten years in Washington state, before moving to Los Angeles.

Ness studied English Literature at the University of Southern California. After graduating, he worked as corporate writer for a cable company. He published his first story in Genre magazine in 1997 and was working on his first novel when he moved to London in 1999.

Walker Books has published all four children's novels by Ness to date, one annually from 2008 to 2011. According to news coverage, ‘He turned to children's fiction after he had the idea for a world where it is impossible to escape information overload, and knew it was right for teenagers.’

The first was The Knife of Never Letting Go, and it won the annual Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children's writers.


Todd lives in a strange place called Prentisstown with his dog, Manchee. What's so weird about Prentisstown? Well, there are no women in Prentisstown, for starters, and there's also this weird germ called Noise that makes everyone's thoughts loud enough for everyone else to hear.

One day, Todd is taking a stroll through the swamp nearby (since he's the youngest person in Prentisstown, he gets stuck with boring jobs, like picking apples), when out of the blue, he hears a hole in the Noise, a.k.a. silence. Whoa. After this silence disappears, Todd has an ugly run-in with the ill-tempered preacher from churc...

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