Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Series: Chaos Walking, #1
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: May 5th 2008
A new edition of the award-winning first novel in the Chaos Walking trilogy, with a bonus short story, The New World.
Imagine you’re the only boy in a town of men. And you can hear everything they think. And they can hear everything you think. Imagine you don’t fit in with their plans…Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run…
The new edition of this unflinching novel about fear, flight and the terrifying path of self-discovery features the short story, The New World. Set before the events of The Knife of Never Letting Go, it is the story of Viola’s dramatic journey to the New World.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Even before I picked up my first Patrick Ness book at the end of last year I’d heard nothing but amazing things about the Chaos Walking trilogy. Everyone seemed to love it so it was impossible to not have my expectations raised sky high. Luckily The Knife of Never Letting Go, as well as the two following books, more than lived up to my expectations.
Like with all the other Patrick Ness books I’ve read the best thing about this book is going into it blind. The blurb doesn’t give much away and I’ll try not to give much away in my review either because my favourite part of this book, this whole series actually, was going in and not knowing where the story would take me and I don’t want to take that experience away from anyone who has yet to pick up the Chaos Walking series.
Todd is the last boy in Prentisstown, a place where all the women have long since died from the virus which gave the men Noise and allowed others to hear their thoughts. Todd is a month away from his thirteenth birthday and once he reaches it he will finally become a man in the eyes of the town. However there are secrets being kept in Prentisstown and after Todd finds a space where there is no Noise, only silence, his guardians finally send him away, on the run from Prentisstown and the Mayor himself.
Todd runs with his dog, told to go to the next settlement where he will find answers, but the Mayor and his people aren’t content Todd get away. For some reason they need him, need him to become a man, before they can launch their grand plan.
As Todd reaches the next settlement and then flees further he starts to cover the secrets Prentisstown have been keeping; their dark history, the truth behind the Noise and the reason the rest of the settle despise the mention of Prentisstown. However the Mayor and his army are close behind Todd, and the insane preacher Aaron is even closer on his trial. He wants something Todd has and is determined to get it no matter what.
Todd is still one month from becoming a man and becoming a man is all he wants. As the youngest person in Prentisstown he has no friends; boys don’t continue to play with boys once they become men. Even after he goes on the run, when he is forced from his home and faces losing everything he knows, he still counts down the days until his thirteenth birthday and the day he finally becomes a man.
The journey Todd goes through in this book is a brilliant one. He has been blind to the truth of Prentisstown as someone who grew up there and has only ever been taught their version of events. However as Todd travels through the settlements, struggling to stay one step ahead of the army and struggling to hide who he is from fellow settlers, he starts to learn more about the world he lives in and how what he believes may not be the truest side of the story.
The Noise is such a huge aspect to all the characters. The men of Prentisstown have no secrets with all their thoughts on display for everyone to hear and all the women are long dead, killed by the virus that gave the men Noise. It was really interesting, as most of the story is told from Todd’s POV, seeing not only his thoughts but also the thoughts of the other men as Todd reads the Noise surrounding them.
There are plenty of other characters who play a large part in this story, all of them with their different motivations and different ideas on what happened all those years ago during the war and later in Prentisstown. Ben and Cillian, Todd’s guardians, play a large part in this first book although they are not seen after the first few chapters. For the most part Todd makes his own way and it makes his development all the more powerful as he makes most of the decisions for himself.
The world building in this book, in the whole series actually, is in a league of its own because Patrick Ness has literally created a whole world. We don’t stay in Prentisstown for long, instead we follow Todd as he travels through the settlements learning so much about the culture, the people and the new world. There are thirteen months to a year and a whole new language to get used to, as well as the language of the Noise itself, but it’s all wonderfully written. There are still things that are held back; the truth about Prentisstown isn’t revealed until close to the end, and there is a lot about the original settlers which is only hinted at, but for the most part the world building is powerfully written and wonderfully developed for a first book in the series.
I have already finished this trilogy, I flew through all three books while on holiday because the series is so addictive. As soon as one book ended I was diving straight into the next one to find out what would happen next. I can see now, not only why so many people are raving about the Chaos Walking trilogy, but also why Patrick Ness is such an acclaimed author.
What did you think of The Knife of Never Letting Go? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.