The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking Book 1)
Author: Patrick Ness,
Genre: Fantasy/Science-fiction/Thriller (yes, all those),
Publisher: Candlewick Press (2010),
Rating: (4 / 5).
This is one of those books when the protagonist goes through so many trials that I kept asking myself, “What, again?!” Just when things are looking up, here comes another downer. It’s certainly a roller-coaster-like ride from start to finish.
It’s an action-packed story of a young man whose world turns upside down within a single day. Easy-going farmers become threatening soldiers and his hometown turns out not to be so homey. The plot is intense.
All males in this world produce “noise,” an audible representation of their thoughts and feelings. This was described very well and even includes some hand-drawn images of what it’s like to hear everyone’s thoughts. Todd is running and hiding through a great deal of the book, and this involuntary noise is difficult to conceal or control.
The book is written in first-person, present tense from the POV of the main character, Todd, whose language is a country vernacular using phonetic spellings like “informayshun,” dialect with “cuz,” and “ain’t,” and lots of short sentences while things were happening fast. This didn’t slow my reading or comprehension down a bit, and it really added to the atmosphere of the book. See, Todd don’t read too good, and that has some important implications.
Characterizations were excellent, even of the animals (who also produce noise). Some characters change drastically based on Todd’s perceptions and his knowledge (or lack thereof) of the townsfolk, and this was handled very well. We learn slowly, as does Todd, why things happen the way they do. Chapters frequently end in cliff-hangers, and so did the book itself. However, you WILL want to get the second book as soon as you can.
Contains plenty of violence, some against children and animals; some foul language; themes of sexism, colonialism, racism, and several other isms. Not for tweens, but older YA readers and adult fans of dystopian fantasy will enjoy this.
Similar: “The Hunger Games,” “The Giver,” “The Scorpio Races,” and the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, etc.)