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

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

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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763652166
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 10/18/2010
Series: Chaos Walking Series , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 112,952
Lexile: 860L (what's this?)
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About 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.

I was born on an army base called Fort Belvoir, near Alexandria, Virginia. But I only stayed there for the first four months of my life and have never even been back to the East Coast of America. Since then, I’ve lived in Hawaii, Washington, California, and England.

I’ve only ever really wanted to be a writer. I studied English Literature at the University of Southern California, and when I graduated, I got a job as a corporate writer at a cable company in Los Angeles, writing manuals and speeches and once even an advertisement for the Gilroy, California, Garlic Festival. I got my first story published in Genre magazine in 1997 and was working on my first novel when I moved to London in 1999. I’ve lived here ever since. I taught Creative Writing at Oxford University for three years, usually to students older than I was. I write for one of the U.K. national papers, and I’ve also been writer in residence for Booktrust. Anything and everything to do with writing, that’s how I want to make my life.

I made up stories all the time when I was young, though I was usually too embarrassed to show them to anybody. That’s okay if you do that; when you’re ready, you’re ready. The important thing is to keep writing.

For young adults, I’ve written A Monster Calls, More Than This, and the Chaos Walking trilogy: The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and The Answer, and Monsters of Men. I’ve also written two books for adults, a novel called The Crash of Hennington and a short story collection called Topics About Which I Know Nothing, a title that seemed funny at the time but less so 10,000 mentions later.

Here’s a helpful hint if you want to be a writer: When I’m working on a first draft, all I write is 1,000 words a day, which isn’t that much (I started out with 300, then moved up to 500, now I can do 1,000 easy). And if I write my 1,000 words, I’m done for the day, even if it only took an hour (it usually takes more, of course, but not always). Novels are anywhere from 60,000 words on up, so it’s possible that just sixty days later you might have a whole first draft. The Knife of Never Letting Go is 112,900 words and took about seven months to get a good first draft. Lots of rewrites followed. That’s the fun part, where the book really starts to come together just exactly how you see it, the part where you feel like a real writer.

Three Things You Might Not Know About Me:

1. I have a tattoo of a rhinoceros.

2. I’ve run three marathons.

3. Under no circumstances will I eat onions.

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.

Customer Reviews

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The Knife of Never Letting Go 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 359 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!
Pavani_Mathur 10 months ago
I’ve never read a book like this one before – a different way of speaking, different people, different places, a different world. It’s difficult to review this book without spoiling it, but let me try. Todd, the protagonist, is surrounded by Noise, which means that everyone can hear everything else thoughts. Literal constant mind-reading. It’s a tough place to survive in, isn’t it? No privacy, no secrets…such a world is unimaginable. Viola is a spot of Silence in the Noise. Beauty among the ugly terrors of Prentisstown. She’s like a breath of fresh air amidst smoke. Her presence is what helps them all stay alive. And Manchee, the dog. The most wonderful character in the book (*sniffles*). This was the character I was most emotionally attached to. Dogs are the most friendly, loyal, lovable beings on the planet (*furiously wipes tears away*). Fleeing a place is easy in most books, but not this one. How do you run away when a hundred people can hear your thoughts and know exactly where you’re going? How can you hope to stay alive when your enemies already know your next move?
JimRGill2012 11 months ago
While this first novel in Ness’ Chaos Walking trilogy is a solid example of the genre, after reading the plethora of other titles that have redefined post-apocalyptic YA fiction in the past 20 years or so, it’s tough to get excited about this one. It’s set on another planet (New World), narrated by a goofy, likeable boy (Todd) on the brink of manhood (which he never lets the reader forget). He is forced to flee the home he shares with his two adoptive fathers (Ben and Cillian—possibly gay) in Prentisstown, a settlement ruled by a mysteriously scary mayor. There are no women in Prentisstown (since they were all killed off—allegedly—by a native virus that caused men to contract the Noise, a condition that permits them all to hear each other’s thoughts). There’s a lunatic preacher (Aaron) chasing Todd, presumably with the intent to kill him. As Todd flees, he encounters Viola, a strange woman with unknown origins. And his talking dog Manchee accompanies him on the journey. Todd’s quest can be easily mapped to the archetypal hero of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth—as can most heroes in contemporary science fiction (whether YA or not). But there’s little here that’s original or particularly intriguing, especially the primary extended metaphor of Todd’s impending loss of innocence, which Ness handles rather clumsily in an effort to give it thematic heft. I am, however, interested enough to read the next book in the trilogy, after which I hope I have not reached the point of genre exhaustion so that I might be able to read the third and final volume.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the concept. That's why I bought this book. Effing sad. (Only I didn't say effing)
AshRyan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting young adult sci-fi/fantasy about what it would be like to live on a world where everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts. It would be noisy. And pretty horrible.The teenage protagonist, Todd, is the youngest person in his town...because all the women died shortly after his birth, supposedly from the same disease that made all the men's private inner lives blaringly public. But there is a dark secret surrounding these events. How is it possible for anything to be secret when he knows what everyone else is thinking all the time? Because "men lie...and they lie to theirselves most of all." This psychological insight, which the author explores in some depth, is one of the most interesting aspects of the story, which follows Todd's uncovering of this secret---culminating in a confrontation in a church behind a waterfall (which reminded me of the ice cathedral on the glacier in Ibsen's Brand).There are some good characters here, though too many of them meet violent ends. The book is pretty brutal in general, even over the top, and the sadistic psychotic preacher just won't die!! Still, the story held my attention enough that I'm excited to read the sequel. Three and a half stars.
ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked The Knife of Never Letting Go, but I also had some major reservations about the setup and some actions and events along the way.This book was extremely graphically violent in a few spots. This wasn't gratuitous, but was deeply embedded in both the plot of the book and the point I saw the book as trying to make-- questions of what does it mean to be a man.I would have been a little less bothered by this in print than audio.Overall, I felt the audio was very well done. I had only one issue with it, but I think it affected my enjoyment. It's odd, because this normally doesn't bother me.I had a lot of difficulty keeping a 12 year old (or 14 year old, if you adjust to our years) boy in my mind. The narrator brought to mind someone older, probably 16-18 years old. I think the story is different when enacted by an older teen.Overall, this is a very powerful book, with an interesting story and raising questions I'll be thinking about long after finishing the book.
BellaFoxx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the settlement of Prentisstown the men¿s and animals thoughts are broadcast, there are no women and Todd Hewitt is the only boy. He has been told that the original inhabitants released a virus during the war that killed the women and broadcast men¿s thoughts. When he runs into a pocket of `quiet¿, which leads him to a girl, his world tips, then turns completely upside down. It soon becomes apparent that almost everything he has been told is a lie.Forced to flee for his life with the girl(Viola), and his dog (Manchee, a gift from his `parents¿, that he did not want), Todd starts to learn the truth.This is very dark story. Which means I hated it, but I also loved it, part of me wants a happy ending, part of me wants to see characters overcome conflict. Most of the characters are well drawn, there are some caricatures, but even these are not buffoonish and have personality. There is not a happy ending, it has a cliffhanger ending that will I hope lead perfectly into the next book.
AyannaRo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿The knife of never letting go¿ was one of the most amazing books I¿ve ever read. I really thought I wouldn¿t like it and when I got it I was even more disappointed about its size! I decided to open up to a new genre and I¿m so happy I did. This book was so powerful and breathtakingly exciting. I found myself going through a stream of emotions one minute I¿m happy then the next I¿m confused or angry, sad, joyful, hopeful or despaired with every page, all 479 of them. I mean just when Todd and Viola see hope at the end of the road, their hope is stomped on by a president who won¿t rest until he gets his way. I need to read the next book to find out if viola is alright because through their journey of coming to the rescue when the other needs them the most, arguing and walking, I can really see that they are in love. Viola and Todd changed each others lives and did everything they could to keep the other alive in the different obstacle they faced. I also think that they learned a lot about one another and the world they live in. I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys adventurous and dangerous books. I can¿t wait to read the next book!
rivkat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This dystopian sf YA has gotten attention for its inventive setup¿a planet where all human men and all animals can hear each other¿s thoughts (can¿t stop hearing them, actually), known as Noise, and all the women died, both, our protagonist tells us, as the result of alien bioweapons in a war the aliens lost, or anyway lost worse than the humans did. Todd is a boy, the last boy in Prentisstown, and one day he goes into the swamp and finds something incredible: a girl. The long words are deliberately misspelled as part of Todd¿s first person POV, something I didn¿t cotton to, and the book is pretty unrelentingly grim. It is a great premise, and I can see why people would like it, but when it ended on a huge cliffhanger I couldn¿t make myself want to read further.
Honeyhair on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story line was enough to get me hooked, but I found myself constantly annoyed with the stupidity of the main character. I did finish it, and would love to read the rest of the series if not for my disbelief that he (the main character) will have any personal growth.
Annesanse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I actually really enjoyed this book. I went ahead and got the rest of the series in eBook format. I'm looking forward to getting some more answers.
littleton_pace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book! It was recommended to me and I wasn't sure I'd like it at first, but it quickly grew on me. The action really is non-stop, our hero Todd doesn't stop moving from page one onwards. The story is extremely unique and clever, the characters are believable and strong in the face of adversity. It's a really enrapturing read, I was desperate to know the answers to many questions I had.It's the first book in a trilogy, but it doesn't fall into the trap I have found with some first-in-series-books where its all setup and no action. While this does perfectly set up how the story will unfold, this book is a stand-alone exciting, fulfilling read. Can't wait to see the next two books under my Christmas tree :)
tw0h3dz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ness logically extends current trends of fundamentalist religious thought, anti-intellectualism, and the deluge of noise that comes with our information age. His result is a believably backward, tiny, and oppressive society. Todd Hewitt's narration of his journey out of ignorance is realistically voiced in a soulful but simple-minded dialect, complete with misspellings and morphed grammatical rules. The second half of this first installment in a series both drags and flies -- events happen quickly but the inclusion of Todd's repetitive thoughts gum up the works. Seems inspired by Pullman's "Golden Compass" series to me, right down to the cliffhanger ending.