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The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, 1) Paperback – July 14, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—Todd Hewitt lives in a world in which all women are dead, and the thoughts of men and animals are constantly audible as Noise. Graphically represented by a set of scratchy fonts and sentence fragments that run into and over each other, Noise is an oppressive chaos of words, images, and sounds that makes human company exhausting and no thought truly private. The history of these peculiar circumstances unfolds over the course of the novel, but Ness's basic world-building is so immediately successful that readers, too, will be shocked when Todd and his dog, Manchee, first notice a silence in the Noise. Realizing that he must keep the silence secret from the town leaders, he runs away, and his terrified flight with an army in pursuit makes up the backbone of the plot. The emotional, physical, and intellectual drama is well crafted and relentless. Todd, who narrates in a vulnerable and stylized voice, is a sympathetic character who nevertheless makes a few wrenching mistakes. Manchee and Aaron, a zealot preacher, function both as characters and as symbols. Tension, suspense, and the regular bombardment of Noise are palpable throughout, mitigated by occasional moments of welcome humor. The cliff-hanger ending is unexpected and unsatisfying, but the book is still a pleasure for sophisticated readers comfortable with the length and the bleak, literary tone.—Megan Honig, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
*Starred Review* Chased by a madman preacher and possibly the rest of his townsfolk as well, young Todd Hewitt flees his settlement on a planet where war with the natives has killed all the women and infected the men with a germ that broadcasts their thoughts aloud for all to hear. This cacophanous thought-cloud is known as Noise and is rendered with startling effectiveness on the page. The first of many secrets is revealed when Todd discovers an unsettling hole in the Noise, and quickly realizes that he lives in a much different world than the one he thought he did. Some of the central conceits of the drama can be hard to swallow, but the pure inventiveness and excitement of the telling more than make up for it. Narrated in a sort of pidgin English with crack dramatic and comic timing by Todd and featuring one of the finest talking-dog characters anywhere, this troubling, unforgettable opener to the Chaos Walking trilogy is a penetrating look at the ways in which we reveal ourselves to one another, and what it takes to be a man in a society gone horribly wrong. The cliffhanger ending is as effective as a shot to the gut. Grades 8-12. --Ian Chipman --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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Top customer reviews
There is a great deal of background to the story, but Ness takes his time revealing that background, giving the reader the chance to discover it slowly and naturally. His use of language is outstanding, sometimes poetic, but always immediate enough to appeal to young readers as well as readers my age (68).
Working with young people for whom this book is directed, I know they love series books. They dislike having to let go of the characters they have fallen in love with. However, I'm not a fan of series books, but the Chaos Walking series, of which The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first part, is a notable exception. I'm going to read the next book in the series after finishing The Knife of Never Letting Go.
I highly recommend this book not only to the ages for which is intended but for any adult who appreciates well-written, engaging fiction.
I cannot recommend these books highly enough.
And don't get me wrong, I love The Hunger Games, but Patrick Ness's The Knife... is in a genre of its own. In some ways, it shouldn't be a Young Adult novel-> the main character, Todd, is a 12 year old boy. Instead, I'd say it is a psychological thriller more than a dystopian- partially because there is so much focus on Todd's mental state.
To be completely honest with you, this book was weird. The strangest book I've ever read in my entire life.
Strangely enough, I remember when this book first came out- I did not find it in the Young Adult section of Borders (R. I. P.) at all, but the kid's section. If you look at this book through the lens of "Hey, this is just a very, very mature children's novel", the story, writing style, and pace will be easier to swallow. Overall, I would 100% recommend this book to those struggling to get out of a reading slump.
“But a knife ain't just a thing, is it? It's a choice, it's something you do. A knife says yes or no, cut or not, die or don't. A knife takes a decision out of your hand and puts it in the world and it never goes back again. ”
The Knife of Never Letting GO is essentially about killing and death- much like The Hunger Games. However, unlike Katniss, Todd is a 12 year old boy- he doesn't want to become a killer when he is forced to go on the run from his home, Prentisstown. The whole novel is about whether or not Todd will make the choice to kill after all. This may seem like an all to simple conflict, but Ness's fast paced writing makes it work.
“The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.”
This novel would not be nearly as interesting if it weren't for "The Noise"- or the fact that everyone in Todd's world can hear everyone's thoughts. It's a harrowing idea if you think closely- there is no privacy, no quiet in Todd's world- and it's enough to drive a man mad. And that's really what this book- and the next two installments I presume- are about madness and the places such insanity will take us.
I can't wait.
Most recent customer reviews
I’ve been meaning to jump on the Chaos Walking bandwagon for the longest time; all my friends who have read this series have enjoyed it...Read more