Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go [indie bound] [amazon]
Author: Patrick Ness [website] [twitter] [facebook]
Genre: Dystopian
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Series: Chaos Walking
Format: Print
Source: Purchased Book
Reviewer: Laura
Parental Advisory: Death, Violence
Teachable Moments: Coming of age, right and wrong, hope, friendship, loyalty

“How do you think you could have possibly come this far if you didn’t have hope?”

Summary (from the publisher):
Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.

But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?

I jumped into The Knife of Never Letting Go knowing very little about the series. All I knew for sure was that Patrick Ness wrote it and that was all I needed!

What I found was a new world with a western-sci-fi vibe, a language and tone all its own, new friends, and big, big lessons all wrapped up in love, suspense, and power. OH, did I say suspense? I meant SUSPENSE! Grit your teeth, white knuckle, I-can’t-turn-the-page-fast-enough suspense! All of it—the faith, hope, loyalty, friendship, main characters I was so proud of, communication, trust, right and wrong, coming of age, and so, so much more—just fit right in with what makes my heart tick!

But there will be time for gushing later. For now…

Let me introduce you to Prentisstown. A town settled by space colonists trying to find a new world to call their own, but what they found instead was a land inhabited by aliens and noise! Every one, even the animals, can hear each other’s thoughts (yes, every thought). They call it Noise.

“Men’s minds are messy places and Noise is like the active, breathing face of that mess. It’s what’s true and what’s believed and what’s imagined and what’s fantasized and it says one thing and a completely opposite thing at the same time and even tho the truth is definitely in there, how can you tell what’s true and what’s not when yer getting everything?”

This is a town with ugly Noise, where boys become men at the age of thirteen and where there are no women left. A dying town with dark, dark secrets. Todd Hewitt will learn these secrets on his thirteenth birthday just one month away. But all that and everything else changes when he meets Viola and her silence.

Silence and a girl! Well, let’s just say the evil powers that be in Prentisstown feel a bit threatened, so Todd, Viola, and Manchee—Todd’s loyal dog and best friend–set off on a journey to keep each other safe and to warn others of danger. Through a landscape filled with valleys, rivers, woods, dust, and swamps chock full of dangers and bad guys, the trio find themselves in a race for the truth and a fight to survive. Readers and Todd are in the dark for much of the book. The questions pile up along with the action, but the search for the truth and answers to: why there are no women in Prentisstown, why men can’t hear women’s Noise, why the bad guys want Todd so badly and what the hell is going on will drive you nuts until the end!

This book possesses a language and style of communicating to readers all its own. Todd’s dialect and vocabulary is filled with “ain’t”s and “effing”s, which all add to creating such a familiar and almost friendly tone to such a complex and layered story. Just listen to the words. Mr. Ness describes the flow and noise of everyone so well, especially the animals. Everyone has such a distinct tone and feel to their character. Listen to the noise, but also listen to what is underneath the noise. There is SO much going on under the words and all that “noise”.

OH, the big bad guys in this book are the best kind. The big, bad religious kind on a mission who keep on coming no matter what because they are meant to–it is their destiny! I love it! Aaron, Mr. Prentiss, Jr. and Mayor Prentiss all wear, own, and strut their bad guy roles with style, flair, creepiness, and ignorance. Pure scary, fun! But let’s get back to the man of the hour and my gushing…

Patrick Ness. I warned you there would be more gushing! :) He crafted a tale packed with such intensity and action that I found myself gripping the book so tightly that my fingernails left claw marks! A tale where strangers forge such a strong bond and friendship that I could feel it in my own heart. I thought my heart was going to burst at one point when Todd…well I can’t go there! …. Let’s just say, Ness made me long and miss characters that were barely in the action. But one of my favorite Ness skills is how he includes the reader in the story. I felt as if I was part of the action. He literally pulls the readers in (shut up)—he does! These characters and Mr. Ness spoke right to my heart and soul. Okay, okay-I will reel in the fangirl love and gushing.

This book has become one of my favorites that I plan to return to again and again. This story made me proud, cry, smile, laugh, and even crush a bit. Todd, Viola, Manchee, Ben, Cillian, and the whole cast of characters made me examine how well I really know the people around me, made me see how a right decision can be so wrong at the same time, and pushed me to look at my decisions in life. If Patrick Ness taught me anything—it is that every decision can take and cost us so much—so much of ourselves. I like to think I still have my battered and broken (but still here) soul and that I’ll continue to get back up, due–in a large part–to reading and books like this one!

“I think maybe everybody falls, I say. I think maybe we all do. And I don’t think that’s the asking.

I think the asking is whether we get back up again.”

I loved this “effing” book! Just in case I didn’t make that clear! :)