Patrick Ness's The Knife of Never Letting Go literally puts you in the head of a fourteen year old boy who has been raised by a village of very unpleasant men. The result is, um, unpleasant. I spent the first half of the book looking at my eleven year old son out of the corner of my eye, wondering if he was about to erupt into despicableness. That Why Gender Matters book has made me deeply suspicious of the immature male.
Later into the book I found the action interesting enough to try to overlook my distaste for the viewpoint character. Yes, he was dumb as a post, and self-justifying, and obnoxious, but he lived during interesting times. He had been raised by monsters (although his immediate family only posed as monsters so they could stay and raise him). And maybe if I had cared more about him, it would have been harder to accept the troubles and horrors he went through. Although some of them were entirely self-inflicted, the consequences were still awful for a child. It makes me hesitate about giving my boy a knife before sending him off alone across the world to escape my horrible neighbors. I shall make a mental note not to get into a situation that would require it.
The ending is a deliberate shocker, reminding me that this is the first book in a series. I'm not in a hurry to get the second, but I'll probably read it eventually. A combination of a gripping read with a repelling voice = B.