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The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking Series #1)

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking Series #1)

4.4 285
by Patrick Ness

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A dystopian thriller follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard — and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret.

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


A dystopian thriller follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard — and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret.

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.

Editorial Reviews

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 cacophonous 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.
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
What if everyone could hear your every thought—and you could hear theirs? On the planet of New World, all the agrarian settlers are besieged by this endless "Noise," making it almost impossible to keep a secret. Todd is the only boy in a town of men, and he's about to undergo a mysterious initiation rite. He believes all the women on the planet are dead, but when he comes upon a girl in the woods, everything abruptly changes. Todd, his faithful dog (whose thoughts can also be heard), and the girl, Viola, go on the run, pursued by a grim army of townsmen, and discover there's much more to New World than Todd had ever expected. This riveting SF thriller is action-packed, with edge-of-your-seat chase scenes, a monstrous villain who just won't die, and moments of both anguish and triumph. Todd must deal with learning the surprising truth about his world while wrestling with moral dilemmas: is he capable of killing? Emotionally intense, violent at times, this haunting page-turner may be awkwardly named, but it's a great read. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
Children's Literature - Amie Rose Rotruck
Todd Hewitt is the last boy in town to become a man. The Noise germ infected the settlement of Prentisstown, killing all the women and allowing all the men to hear each other's thoughts as well as the thoughts of animals. After revealing a horrible secret, Todd's guardians send him away from town with a journal written by Todd's mother before she died. With only his dog Manchee for company, Todd flees the settlement, pursued by all the men in town. During his flight, Todd meets the first female he has ever seen, Viola, who has just landed on the planet. Together, they find their way to various oases of safety, but cannot ever stay long because of their hunters. As Todd talks to other people and reads his mother's journals, he discovers the true nature of Prentisstown. It is not until the final, horrifying confrontation that he realizes why they will not stop until they find him. This brilliant post-apocalyptic novel is gritty and exciting. The way the Noise is handled, from Manchee's simple thoughts to the chaos in Prentisstown is particularly well done, as are Todd's misspellings and grammatical mistakes within the text of the book (just enough to give us a sense of realism to Todd's narrative, but not too many to be distracting). An excellent and gripping beginning to the "Chaos Walking" series. Reviewer: Amie Rose Rotruck
VOYA - Angelica Delgado
Todd Hewitt is a boy inundated with information. Since an unfortunate encounter with germ warfare killed the women in Prentisstown and left the men and other animals unable to conceal their thoughts from each other, life has been somewhat depressing. Students cannot avoid cheating on tests so they stop going to school. The townsmen think wistfully of their wives and maliciously of one another. Preacher Aaron judges with an iron fist and punishes anyone who merely thinks a naughty word. When boys become men on their thirteenth birthday, they become secretive and sad. A month from turning thirteen, Todd and his pesky dog, Manchee, find something in the swamp that triggers a cascade of tragic events, leaving Todd and Manchee to flee the only home they know with the men of Prentisstown hot on their trails. Ness's first contribution to young adult literature is mesmerizing yet ultimately disappointing. His skillfully structured narrative creates an elegant mixture of action, dialogue, and dark, dystopian pathos. The most evocative scenes involve Todd and his steadfast pooch, Manchee. The novel unfortunately uses hackneyed and irritating plot devices such as seemingly immortal villains, an nber-religious villain, and repeatedly delayed revelations that in turn prolong the hero's struggle. Creepy Preacher Aaron, in particular, survives attacks by swamp animals and a dog and many bouts with a very sharp knife, all while delivering fervent prophetic statements. Steer this one to mature fans of Patrick Carman's House of Power series who want something darker and better written. Reviewer: Angelica Delgado
School Library Journal

Gr 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

Kirkus Reviews
Todd Hewitt has never known quiet. Growing up on an alien planet where thoughts are broadcast and animals speak, 12-year-old Todd is the last boy in a town of men. He quickly goes from outcast to target after finding two surprises in Prentisstown's swamp: a wrecked colony spaceship and Viola, the first girl he has ever seen. In fleeing Prentisstown, Todd and Viola discover its ugly history and terrifying plans. Uneven pacing and an unbelievable premise hobble this work, Ness's first attempt at YA fiction. Events pile up and then freeze while Todd addresses an emotional crisis. Viola's page presence is so weak as to be forgettable, though Manchee, Todd's loyal dog, will grow on readers as the narrative progresses. Ness's attempt to develop Todd's character by including colloquialisms in nearly every aspect of the narrative only succeeds in driving readers out of the tale. Attempting to address adolescent angst, information overload and war, Ness ends up delivering merely noise. (Science fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
"Sets a high standard in an already crowded fantasy fiction genre."
— THE INDEPENDENT (U.K.) — Independent, The (UK)

Product Details

San Val, Incorporated
Publication date:
Chaos Walking Series , #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.60(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

THE FIRST THING you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything.

"Need a poo, Todd."

"Shut up, Manchee."

"Poo. Poo, Todd."

"I said shut it."

We’re walking across the wild fields southeast of town, those ones that slope down to the river and head on toward the swamp. Ben’s sent me to pick him some swamp apples and he’s made me take Manchee with me, even tho we all know Cillian only bought him to stay on Mayor Prentiss’sgood side and so suddenly here’s this brand-new dog as a present for my birthday last year when I never said I wanted any dog, that what I said I wanted was for Cillian to finally fix the fissionbike so I wouldn’t have to walk every forsaken place in this stupid town, but oh, no, happy birthday, Todd, here’s a brand-new puppy, Todd, and even tho you don’t want him, even tho you never asked for him, guess who has to feed him and train him and wash him and take him for walks and listen to him jabber now he’s got old enough for the talking germ to set his mouth moving? Guess who?

"Poo," Manchee barks quietly to himself. "Poo, poo, poo."

"Just have yer stupid poo and quit yapping about it."

I take a switch of grass from beside the trail and I swat after him with it. I don’t reach him, I don’t mean to reach him, but he just laughs his little barking laugh and carries on down the trail. I follow after him, switching the switch against the grass on either side, squinting from the sun, tryingnot to think about nothing at all.

We don’t need apples from the swamp, truth be told. Ben can buy them at Mr. Phelps’s store if he really wants them. Also true: going to the swamp to pick a few apples is not a job for a man cuz men are never allowed to be so idle. Now, I won’t officially become a man for thirty more days. I’ve lived twelve years of thirteen long months each and another twelve months besides, all of which living means I’m still one month away from the big birthday. The plans are being planned, the preparayshuns prepared, it will be a party, I guess, tho I’m starting to get some strange pictures about it, all dark and too bright at the same time, but neverthelessI will become a man and picking apples in the swamp is not a job for a man or even an almost-man.

But Ben knows he can ask me to go and he knows I’ll say yes to going because the swamp is the only place anywhere near Prentisstown where you can have half a break from all the Noise that men spill outta theirselves, all their clamor and clatter that never lets up, even when they sleep, men and the thoughts they don’t know they think even when everyone can hear. Men and their Noise. I don’t know how they do it, how they stand each other.

Men are Noisy creachers.

"Squirrel!" Manchee shouts and off he goes, jumping off the trail, no matter how loud I yell after him, and off I have to go, too, across the (I look round to make sure I’m alone) goddam fields cuz Cillian’ll have a fit if Manchee falls down some goddam snake hole and of course it’ll be my own goddam fault even tho I never wanted the goddam dog in thegoddam first place.

"Manchee! Get back here!"


I have to kick my way thru the grass, getting grublets stuck to my shoes. One smashes as I kick it off, leaving a green smear across my sneakers, which I know from experience ain’t coming out. "Manchee!" I rage.

"Squirrel! Squirrel! Squirrel!"

He’s barking round the tree and the squirrel’s skittering back and forth on the tree trunk, taunting him. Come on, Whirler dog, says its Noise. Comeon, come get, come on, come get. Whirler, Whirler, Whirler.

"Squirrel, Todd! Squirrel!"

Goddam, animals are stupid.

I grab Manchee by the collar and hit him hard across his back leg. "Ow, Todd? Ow?" I hit him again. And again. "Ow? Todd?"

"Come on," I say, my own Noise raging so loud I can barely hear myself think, which is something I’m about to regret, you watch.

Whirler boy, Whirler boy, thinks the squirrel at me. Come get, Whirler boy.

"You can eff off, too," I say, except I don’t say "eff ", I say what "eff" stands for.

And I really, really shoulda looked round again.

Meet the Author

Patrick Ness is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling Chaos Walking trilogy, as well as the Carnegie Medal–winning A Monster Calls, inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd. Among the numerous awards he has received are the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he lives in London.

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The Knife of Never Letting Go 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 285 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is what more young adult books should be like. This book has it all. It has a fast-paced and exhiliraring plot that keeps the reader on their toes. It has the complex characters that you will cry for, be scared for, and love. But most importantly, this book is thought-provoking. This type of book is what our kids need. Not some shallow, cliche-ridden vampire book. Read this book.
kdporteus More than 1 year ago
In an all-male world, Todd is the youngest member of settlers of an unnamed planet where the thoughts of all living creatures are broadcast 24/7. "The Noise," as it is referred to, contributes to the paranoia and mistrust of a disfunctional society. Todd sets off an adventure with a noise-less female companion and the action is non-stop. Comic relief is offered in the form of Todd's trusty canine companion. Truly one of the most original books I've read in years. Appropriate for boys and girls alike, recommended for mature readers, not because of any objectionable content, but because of some intellectually complex themes.
Hawesky More than 1 year ago
The Knife of Never Letting Go, was a book that pulled you in from the start, I stayed up way-to-late, cuddling with my sheets, trying to read through meal times just so I could finish the book, and trying to read through my tears! I was and still am inseperable from this book! I find it amazing when an authors words can get such a meaningful and emotional pull out of you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very original. The only part that is confusing is the beginning, but for good reason. They do not explain much of the terminology but as you read you grow to understand it without noticing. I found that when I was reading and another character popped up in the book who did not know much themselves I was thinking, "What do you mean you don't know what Noise is?". This itself is a very cool experience. I also found it didn't follow many of the chiches that make many books predictable. In fact, those chiches led me to many suprizes while reading. This book will keep the reader interested with well built characters, intrigueing concepts, and an adventure that will keep you guessing till the end. Definitely a book that deserves more attention and fans. To those interested in buying be aware it is in first person and tends to make you think by not explaining itself all the time. Thought provocative and fun, once you pick up The Knife of Never Letting Go you wont be able to let go.
PlumPudding More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing. It challenges the YA genre, in my opinion, because of all its intense emotion and tragedy and OH this book just gave me so many feelings. It's hard to organize my thoughts after having finished it. There were some things that rubbed me the wrong way, as much as I loved and enjoyed this book. One was the voice, which I understand why it's written that way, but it's to such a great extent that it seems a bit gimmicky to me. Since they're his thoughts, and thoughts don't always mean words, why were words misspelled in his thoughts? I get the fact that he couldn't read, but it's easily understood without misspelled words in the descriptions. I'm being a bit nitpicky, sure, but it just made me cringe every time I saw the word "tho" instead of "though." And the fact that the baddies were ALWAYS there and always, ALWAYS, a step ahead just started to annoy me after a while. How many times can one man pop out at them and how many times before it becomes less shocking and more irksome? Okay, I'm done being critical because overall I loved this book. It was definitely a roller coaster of emotion. I cried and I smiled and laughed and shook my fists in frustration. Patrick Ness definitely is not afraid to censor violence and emotion but that didn't make the novel seem like one of those "violent without a clear reason as to why they're violent other than the fact that it's VIOLENCE and that's what's supposed to happen to make it seem mature, right?" Its violence was because of emotion. It seemed so gritty and real and everything was done for a reason and it all broke my heart about a thousand times. I immediately went to the library to check out the other two in the trilogy. I could not put this book down and I'm already starting into the second installment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A superb book with the best cast of characters I have ever seen. The plot is exciting and surprising and it keeps you guessing. I compare every book I have ever read against this series and Chaos Walking beats it every time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you liked the Hunger Games, Divergent, or Breathe, you will probably enjoy this book. This series follows an (almost) innocent boy who finds something he wasn't supposed to. Now he is on the run and facing danger everywhere. The story is very interesting and original. There is also great character development and you don't always know what will happen next. There are a few intentional grammatical and spelling errors in the book. Like I said, this is intentional because the main character isn't very educated. There are 2 more books in the Chaos Walking series.
misterEdSC More than 1 year ago
This book starts on its own, but if you read the short story that preceeds it, the intensity is really increased. Tha characters are very well developed and I, who hates paying for a book, just had to get the next. And the next. To me it seems that there is even room for a following series,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars. I had a hard getting started in this book or otherwise I would have given this a 5 star rating because once I got started I could not put it down. The grammar is hard to get used to and I think that is why I had problems in the beginning and once I got used to that I was hooked. I won't review the whole premise of the book as others seem to do that but survival of the main characters will keep you reading to the end of the book. The whole idea of another New World and where and why they survived are intriguing subjects to me and Patrick Ness does an excellent job pushing me forward in the book. Talking animals (yes, I know that sounds crazy) but Richard makes them such a realistic part of the story that they blend right in. I really enjoyed the cliff hangers at the end of each chapter. Great job Patrick! But really, how was a girl supposed to go to sleep after an ending like that? Huh?? Out to get Chaos Walking: Book 2 The Ask and the Answer Good quote: "I think maybe everybody falls.".....I think the asking is whether we get back up again."
laffoutgiraffe More than 1 year ago
Every summer at school we have to read a book for English and write a review and do an assignment on it. Most of the time we don't have a choice of what book we have to read. But this summer we had a list to chose from, and on the list was Patrick Ness's The Knife of Never Letting Go. I chose to read this book without any knowledge of what it was about, or where it took place. But after reading it, i was so happy with myself for choosing an amazing book! Mr.Ness's style of writting is a breath of fresh air, with his true to life spelling of words. If anybody asked me for a recomondation for a book, i would plainly tell them that this book is the #1 book they should read. It teaches important leasons, shares emotions, and touches your emotions like you never thought would be possible. In simpler words, i love this book.
smashleyy More than 1 year ago
I read this book because I found a review that said it was "what the hunger games could have been". While I wholeheartedly disagree, I found the plot and characters to be thoughtfully developed with a new spin on a genre that has recently been muddled with subpar trilogies. With that said I am excited to see where book two takes me!
Carrigan More than 1 year ago
Very unique storyline.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
On a far-flung world newly settled by humanity, twelve-year-old Todd Hewitt of Prentisstown is a boy on the brink of becoming a man.

When settlers came to this world, they found it already inhabited by aliens known as the Spackle, and a war was waged against them to colonize the planet. Now, almost twenty years after the first settlers landed, the world is low-tech but free of the "spacks." However, they left behind them the "Noise germ," a chemical contaminant that causes all the men who come in contact with it to broadcast their thoughts for everyone's hearing--and kills all the infected women.

On the eve of his thirteenth birthday, Todd has never seen a woman. He was the last child born in the settlement before his mother succumbed to the Noise germ and died, and now he's the only boy left in the village of Prentisstown, all the others having turned thirteen and been proclaimed men. Now, with Todd's birthday approaching, the entire town is anxious, and Todd can hear it.

The men of the town are keeping something from him; although they can hear each other think, it's possible to learn techniques that allow one to control the information that others can hear. Ben and Cillian, his adoptive guardians and old friends of his parents, are both worried for him, though Todd doesn't know why.

And then, with less than a month to go until Todd's thirteenth birthday, he stumbles across a secret that no boy is meant to know and all men have been forced to forget, a secret about the history of his world and the lies he's been told. Todd has no choice but to escape from the town he's called his home and the people who have been his parents, on the run from something more terrible than the alien Spackle, and more familiar.

The sheer intensity of the story Ness tells kept me reading straight through this book, despite its length and occasionally hefty prose. Todd's first-person, present-tense narration has an inexorable pull that places the reader within the context of the story and keeps you turning the pages. The plot is full of twists and turns, the world is immaculately and innovatively crafted, and the characters' pain and longing seeps from the pages.

My largest complaint with this book was the way in which it ended, without resolving some major issues that had been significant throughout the story. It is the first book in a series, so this sense of incompleteness may be slightly forgiven, but I felt like I'd spent the entire book hurtling forward into empty space only to be slammed at the last minute against a brick wall.

That said, I'd recommend THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO to anyone who enjoys dystopia or slightly darker fiction, and I know I can't wait to see what happens next!
blamethebooks 7 months ago
I have heard fantastic things about this book and about Patrick Ness in general, and I was not disappointed. I really loved The Knife of Never Letting Go. First of all, the writing was beautiful. The world that Patrick Ness created was really interesting, and I felt like I could imagine the entire planet perfectly as I was fleeing Prentisstown with Todd. The characters felt so real and I found myself growing incredibly attached to them. I have to admit, I was a little bit confused at the very start of this book, but once the plot developed a little and I got to know a bit more about the characters and the world, everything fell into place and I was hooked. I would love to be able to tell you more about the character development and the world building, but saying anything more would put me at risk of spoiling you, and I really think it is best to go into this book without knowing too much about the plot. One thing that surprised me about The Knife of Never Letting Go is how dark it was. Our main character, Todd, is only supposed to be twelve or thirteen during this book (there is some debate among the characters as to the progression of time on their planet). This is a little bit younger than a typical Young Adult character, and this book is marketed as YA. Despite Todd’s age, I found this book to be darker than most YA books I have read. The villains in this world are some of the creepiest, slimiest characters I have ever read. I have heard Mayor Prentiss named as people’s favorite villain multiple times, and, I will admit, he is a really creepy bad guy and I am a little afraid to see what he does in the rest of this series. But the character that really got to me in The Knife of Never Letting Go was Aaron. Aaron was freaking CRAZY. He completely creeped me out and I will never forget his scenes in this book. Ugh, that guy gives me chills….
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good, fast read and unique story line. After the first 40 pages I couldn't put it down. I do recommend it. Kind of has a southern-drawl tone to it even though it's set in the future. "Yer a good kid..." things like that. It didn't distract or dissuade me from the book though. Enjoyed it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The funny thing is, i was todds exact age in earth years when i read this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The best books on the face of the earth!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's should be known throughout the world. It's action packed with a great plot and the text simulates with the character really well and the plot twist is so great you'll just have to pick up the next book. I'm fan girly this book like some people with One Direction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hellocooly More than 1 year ago
This is one young adult novel that as an adult I enjoyed. The plot was interesting and it was not stupid and meaningless like other teen novels that are out there. It actually is a unique, smart book written by a terrific author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much. The characters seemed almost real. I cannot explain in words how much I loved this book and this trilogy. I reread this book 2 weeks after reading it for the first time and I loved it just as much as i loved it the first time. This book may not be for everyone but I think people should give it a chance because it is an amazing book.
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