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?
©2008 Patrick Ness (P)2010 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Furiously paced, terrifying, exhilarating, and heartbreaking, The Knife of Never Letting Go is a book that haunts your imagination." (Sunday Telegraph, UK)
"A penetrating look at...what it takes to be a man in a society gone horribly wrong." (Booklist)
"A series opener as promising as it is provocative." (The Horn Book)
reads for teens
I had already read this book and loved it. I was looking forward to the audio version but was afraid it could not recreate the "noise" as written in the novel. Nick Podehl exceeded all expectations. He particularly nailed the voice of Todd's dog, Manchee, giving me moments of both wild laughter and heartbreaking tears. Bravo!
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
“Intense” is a good word for this young adult novel. The setting is some time in the far future, on a colony planet peopled by religious settlers looking to distance themselves from the problems of the old world, including most technology. Except that much has gone wrong since the first landing. There was a war with the planet’s alien inhabitants, who released a “noise germ” that makes everyone able to hear everyone else’s thoughts, including animals. And this germ also killed off women and girls, leaving behind only men and boys. At least, this is the grim reality as understood by the story's protagonist, Todd Hewitt, who is the last boy in the troubled village of Prentisstown. However, as we soon learn, Todd doesn't really know a whole lot.
The setting and Todd’s voice, which are both well-realized, are immediate hooks into the story. Todd, with his often-ignorant view of the world but firm set of adolescent convictions, is a convincing teenager, and it’s hard not to like his dog Manchee, whose canine utterances (via the “noise”) are the comic relief of the book. Todd’s a sort of dystopian, telepathic Huck Finn. And once the story gets going, it keeps going, sending Todd fleeing from some frightening enemies, while not entirely letting the reader in on what the big picture is.
I liked a lot of things about the book. The character voices are well-done, conveying some different attitudes and perspectives. The author also does some interesting things with the “noise” idea, exploring what a world in which some people broadcast their every thought (while others don’t) would be like. I don’t get the impression that Ness was trying to comment directly on things like social networking, but it’s easy to find connections. As the interactions between Todd and another character make clear, a world of constant sharing through some ethereal medium might feel overwhelming and oppressive to some, but its absence strange and unnerving to others. Gender issues, deception, and religious ideas about man's fall from innocence are other themes that are touched on. And scenes with animals are cleverly done.
The audiobook production, by the way, is excellent. The reader’s accents really bring out the characters’ personalities (including Manchee), and the representations of noise are well done, too, with a little bit of sonic distortion as a cue.
I did, however, have a few issues with story logic. For one, the plot over-relies on the old stringing-along device of withholding information from the reader (and Todd), then interrupting any scene where important revelations seem imminent (e.g. "the man who wanted Colonel Mustard dead is... oops, I'd better take this phone call."). That works once or twice, then grows annoying. Also, the bad guys, while thoroughly bad and endowed with a Terminator-like ability to keep reappearing, are so thinly fleshed out as characters that I found their motives unclear. The last sequence with Aaron the crazy preacher, while making a certain thematic sense, didn't feel as convincing as it seemed meant to.
Still, the “noise” idea and character voices are so well-realized and there are enough affecting scenes that I’ll give the Knife of Never Letting Go an overall thumbs-up, despite the clumsier aspects of the plotting. It's a grim novel, however, and I definitely wouldn't recommend it for very young readers -- the violence and suggested violence, while not glorified, gets intense in spots. There’s also a fair bit of profanity, though it’s mostly disguised with “effin’”.
When I like something I'll let you know. If I don't, I'll let you know that too!
The first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy (I suggest you listen to the bonus prequel before you start this book.) It's all about power - obtaining, keeping and demonstrating power, that is until anti-power shows up and challenges the status quo. The anti-power in the form of two 13-year old adolescents who battle for their freedom, their lives, an oppressed race and an interesting connected planet. One word of warning: The first and third books are wonderful. Unfortunately, there is a second book that is rather tedious. I almost didn't get the third book because of how much I struggled with the second. I am greatful I convinced myself to try the final book. It was indeed the best of the series. Many lovable and memorable characters that are brought to life by Mr. Ness.
The narrator(s) are pitch perfect for their roles in the performance. I recommend the Chaos Walking Triology with the understanding the second book is a struggle to finish.
Mommy of twins
After seeing the mixed reviews for THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO, having very high marks for the unique elements, with great action bits, disturbing and gripping originality of story I was decided; I had to check out this series. Then taking into consideration some of the hits the book seem to take from reviewers, mostly negative pull in regards to the dialect spoken in difficult rough and broken “backwoods” accents… I went audio. What better way to weed through the overflow of “noise” and enjoy the local culture, then to do it through the expertise of the ever so talented performance of narrator Nick Podehl. This was definitely the way to go.
Set in a post apocalyptic time where people have settled on “New World”; a planet where animals talk and the thoughts of man are not his own but a buzz of noise shared by all in range to hear it, weather you want to or not. Imagine no such thing as private; every thought, feeling, fantasy, emotion and memory, be it mundane or that of a deep personal nature, that dares to cross you mind is broadcast to those around you and their all to you. And there is nothing you can do about it, it just is. Then as if that’s not disturbing enough, the “Noise Germ” only affects men.
I was thoroughly entertained by the action packed, intense and emotional read of THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO (Chaos Walking, Book 1). The story is one of a kind, chock full of hidden twist and shocking discoveries. Main focus characters are Todd and Viola (meet Viola in the prequel, THE NEW WORLD, a short well worth it read that is available for free in audio/e-format); young teens from two very different worlds bonding as they quite literally run for their lives. And it all leads up to a surprisingly abrupt end, so plan a head and invest in the second installment to avoid being left hanging.
So, will I continue on with the series?.. definitely yes. Is this a read I’d recommend to others?.. yes and no. Although the series has been sorted out under YA, I wouldn’t recommend it to readers under the age of 17 maybe 16, due to some strong language and a heavy hand in violence. Characters do die (violently) and curse words like GD and F’n are used quite a bit throughout the story. Also, again I did not “read” the hard copy, but did enjoy the Mp3 audio version.
Unfortunately I saw a lot of good press about this series and bought the first two books in the recent Audible specials. For anyone who has ready the positive reviews I wish to provide a warning:
This book is not a good listen or read, for anyone. The main character goes through enormous trials and hardships without learning a single thing to the point where you start rooting for the stereotypically evil bad guys. The 'plot' revolves around withholding key information which when revealed is 1) not worth finding out 2) withheld so many times in so many nonsensical ways that it is beyond annoying. The setting is uninteresting despite an interesting premise and the fleet of trucks driving through the plot holes and inconsistencies in the use of the main device is very distracting even for someone good at suspending disbelief.
I finished it to give it a fair hearing but i doubt i will ever bother listening to the second volume.
For a great series in a similar category read the excellent Hunger Games
Not having read the print version couldn't really say. Though I did enjoy the narrator and think I personally would've been confused reading everyones thoughts instead of hearing them through the narrator.
Made me buy the second book immediately, even though I wasn't necessarily spell bound throughout the book, the cliff hanger killed me.
Had a variety of voices, and didn't try to force a performance.
Almost made me cry near the end when well don't want to say any spoilers...
I listened to the free preview, and decided to purchase the first book. I honestly wish I hadn't listened to the preview the books are not similar imo. Though to be fair the preview is only what half hour, fourty five minutes long or something like that. I did somewhat enjoy the book and will listen to the series to see what happens.
Firstly that it's so unique. The author has a great imagination and told the story well. It wasn't bare-bones dry, but it wasn't dripping in excess adjectives and exposition either. Manchee was a favorite also.
This is the first time I've heard this narrator, and I just loved him. In fact, I listened to a sample on a whim, not knowing anything about the book and decided within 60 seconds to buy it because I was so engaged by Nick Podehl! He's got a lot of personality and sounded enthused about this story. And the way he voiced the animals, that was a big selling point to me. If I had read the book description first, I may never have listened to the sample.
The voice acting is incredible, this was one of my first audio books and Nick Podehl did an excellent job with each of the characters, They were all distinct and believable.
This was a young adult book, it had many twists and turns. It was not like other sci-fi books I had read, it dealt less with technology and more with an incredible story.
I have not, I did get the sequel and so far it is as good as this was.
I laughed at parts. For the most part, I felt like I was on the edge of my seat, anxious to keep the story going and find out what was about to happen.
I love Nick Podehl's narration in The Kingkiller series, and this book proves it is no fluke. His energy, emotion, distinctive voices, and even more distinctive accents really make this more of a Performance than just a narration.
The book itself is entertaining and well-written, both thought-provoking and heart-tugging enough at times to generate enough interest for me to continue the series. And if there was ever any doubt, the narration performance clinches it.
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