The Knife Of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) – Patrick Ness

Published July 3, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

What did I think?:

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book I have read by multi award winning author Patrick Ness. I have only one criticism – why did it take me so long to read one? The story is set in the future, where both the history, the present and the days to come look pretty bleak. The settlers in Prentisstown are all men, as something referred to as the “Noise germ” has killed off all the women in the community. This germ also had the unsettling effect of amplifying all thoughts, so everyone can hear what the other thinks. Our main character is a thirteen year old boy called Todd Hewitt, who is a month away from when he is officially recognised as a man. Todd is the last person in the town to become a man (as there are no women left, there are also no children) and something crucial will happen on this momentous occasion where he may finally learn the town secrets.

However, whilst out walking his dog Manchee (who talks, as all the animals do), Todd learns something that both terrifies him and causes him to flee the town, unsure of where to go, but trusting in the men that raised him who say it is imperative that he leaves. Armed with a large hunting knife, a journal that belonged to his mother that he has been told will help him on his travels, and the ever-faithful Manchee he hurries away before the leaders of the town hear his thoughts/plans and try to stop him. After a short while, he comes across the most incredible discovery of his life – a young girl. But weren’t all the females eliminated from the Noise germ? Apparently not. The girl, whose name is Viola becomes a handy side-kick for Todd as they continue to flee from Prentisstown and the angry leaders of the town, including one of the creepiest characters I have met in the literary world, Aaron the preacher, who means to silence Todd for good. His interest in Viola though is a bit more suspicious and leads to the two children racing for their lives. Along the epic journey, there is immense danger, violence and heartbreak for the two friends. Todd must also deal with the new truths that are revealed which not only lead him to disregard his previous beliefs, but force him into becoming a man well ahead of his time.

This is an absolutely incredible book that I loved every minute of. I’ve got to admit that I didn’t really like the character of Todd to begin with, but as the story continues, it is hard not to change your opinion as the whole world that he has known flips upside down. Now, a talking animal always gets the thumbs up from me, but Manchee has to be up there with the best animal characters of all time. (Another one for me is Wilbur the pig but anyway…) He’s quite a dopey personality really, with a fairly limited vocabulary that mainly consists of “Poo, Todd! Poo!” when he needs to do his business, but he is fiercely loyal, protective, amusing and so loveable, I challenge anybody not to have a little fuzzy feeling for him. I honestly believe that this story has something for everyone, we have adventure and action, emotion and suspense. Patrick Ness blends all these elements with real finesse and so flawlessly that it produced a story of epic proportions which really stands out from the crowd in the YA genre at the moment. The author used an interesting and clever technique of  mis-spelling words/using incorrect grammar when Todd’s thoughts are expressed, as a teenager with little literary skills may “see” these words. He also wasn’t afraid to get a bit gruesome at times, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I thought made for a thrilling and for one event in particular, slightly upsetting and jaw-dropping story. So, after all my gushing, all I can say is if you haven’t started the Chaos Walking series yet, what in the world are you waiting for?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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16 comments on “The Knife Of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) – Patrick Ness

  • After reading this review I really need to read this book! If you liked Patrick Ness’ writing style, I highly recommend reading More Than This. It’s incredible!!

  • I’m with you. Todd was difficult to like in the beginning but I really grew fond of him over the course of the story.

    Glad you loved this story! The rest of the series is just as enjoyable.

    • Thanks for your comment! I agree with you, Aaron was very fascinating, a character you love to hate. I love your thoughts about what Ness was trying to say regarding “noise,” I never thought of it that way before!

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