The Knife of Never Letting Go

PJV Quickie: The first book in the Chaos Walking series was a little hard to get into, especially in Audiobook format, but once it took hold, this book didn’t let me go.

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: Patrick Ness
Series: Chaos Walking Book 1
Narrated: Nick Podehl
ISBN: 1406310255

Published May 5th 2008 by Walker
Purchased audio book from
Author Web >> Author Twitter >> Purchase Book >> Goodreads
4.5 out of 5


Patrick Ness came up with one of the most original science fiction young adult books that I’ve read in a long time. His ideas are bold and fresh and they leap off the page in very compelling and often times heart-wrenching detail. The basis of the book centers around Todd, a boy from a small town called Prentisstown. Located on a settler planet, Prentisstown has been impacted with a disease that allows everyone’s thoughts to be heard out loud. They call it Noise and even the animals give off Noise. Thoughts, the good, the bad and the dreadful are available for Todd to “hear”. But, upon stumbling upon blessed silence, Todd discovers that in a town where everyone’s thoughts are blasted about — there are still a lot of secrets. Secrets that he now has to run from or risk his life. Both compelling and enchanting, the world Ness created was laid out in vivid detail and I definitely want more. Ness carefully crafted his plot and it is evident in every scene and the structure of the story. The whole story played out much like a movie would all leading to a breathless climax, without doing a nasty “series” cliffhanger. It was well done and I can see why it has won so man literary awards.

Yet, as I read, I was faced with one question that kept on arising. The novel is narrated from Todd’s point-of-view, who is practically illiterate. He has a very hard time trying to read the easiest of words. I thought that a narrator with that level of education as a backing would have have had a simpler vocabulary and way of saying things. Ness did work in some slang and the audiobook was done in a twangy accent — but the vocabulary of the narration was pretty educated. That was my only drawback…the big words always stopped me, because frankly, I know literate people that have no clue about half the SAT words I use.

Other than that, a gem and a must read. It has been classified as dystopian in some lists, but while it does have dystopian elements, I always consider “other planet” pieces science fiction. This isn’t a space opera or anything like that, so you don’t have to be a scifi lover to appreciate this book.

The prequel to ‘The Knife of Never Letting Go‘ was a killer and an instant suck into the world, it is called ‘The New World‘ and while not required reading before you partake of The Chaos Walking Books, I would recommend it, it’s also free on


Recommended for fans of dystopian or science fiction. If you enjoyed reads like ‘Blood Red Road’ by Moira Young with that more advanced narration and plot formation, you’ll enjoy this one. The book is from the POV of a younger male character and his immaturity might be a turn off from those that are used to the female driven, mature young adult books. I do recommend trying this one out though. Parents have nothing to fear, there is a bit of violence, but nothing over-the-top. Because of more mature political and social issues I would recommend a 13+ readership.

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Young Adult Novelaudio bookscience fictiondystopian