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The Knife of Never Letting Go: Chaos Walking, Book 1 | [Patrick Ness]

The Knife of Never Letting Go: Chaos Walking, Book 1

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (360 )
5 star
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4.3 (284 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Howard Cumberland, MD, United States 05-24-12
    Howard Cumberland, MD, United States 05-24-12 Member Since 2010

    When I like something I'll let you know. If I don't, I'll let you know that too!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Really interesting world but seriously messed up"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Cole-Johnson Dallas, TX USA 10-17-10
    C. Cole-Johnson Dallas, TX USA 10-17-10 Member Since 2008

    reads for teens

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Edge of knife story"

    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!

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CRISTY Bluffton, SC, United States 01-05-12
    CRISTY Bluffton, SC, United States 01-05-12

    Mommy of twins

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "“Without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.”"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 06-14-12
    Ryan Somerville, MA, United States 06-14-12 Member Since 2005

    Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Intense, well-voiced story, somewhat clumsy plot"

    “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’”.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce Fairview, NC, United States 04-01-12
    Bruce Fairview, NC, United States 04-01-12 Member Since 2005
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    "A harsh, ugly book, not recommended for any age"

    This is a deeply ugly, ugly book, bordering on the sadistic. Horrible characters pile on and return again and again, and the two young protagonists are repeatedly brutalized.

    Unlike, say, The Hunger Games, where the world is richly detailed, the characters nuanced (I'm talking only about the first book) and the violence driven by a compelling challenge, in this book the world is poorly imagined (it's an alien planet, but it appears to be identical to Earth, with a few Dr. Seuss creatures thrown in), the characters are dull and either noble or evil or incidental, and there's barely a plot line.

    The novel is one long chase, without clear goals, seemingly plotted by a game of 52 pickup. Characters pop up, disappear, return, disappear, on and on, without any sense of a building narrative -- indeed, without any sense at all, much of the time. A lot of it's just unbelievable nonsense. (How did this long missing person get to this geographic point? Don't ask.) The author withholds and withholds explanation so long that when it comes, it's a huge letdown. Either you've long figured it out, or it's just kinda cartoonish and uninteresting. All of the above, actually.

    This isn't just dystopia, it's a frighteningly pathetic world, where sadists are all powerful and good people largely inert, including the annoying, self-destructively indecisive narrator. Even the sad sacks of Orwell's 1984 stood a better chance. So why would anyone -- especially a young reader -- want to submit to this shallowly imagined torture?

    Oh, because there are two more books, and good guys will, in all likelihood, prevail in the end. What that means for this book is that it has no ending -- unlike, say, any Twilight installment or The Hunger Ganes or, really, any other first novel in a series. Things so badly and badly and badly and it's over. Buy the next book to continue your misery.

    No, thanks. I might look up the synopsis on Wikipedia, just to put an end to it, but I have no masochistic desire to submit to more meandering prose, random plotting, infuriating characters and ugly violence on this barely imagined alien world. I'm letting go now and forever.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Creativecolor 11-18-11 Member Since 2007
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    "Train Wreck"

    Almost from the first page, is this story all about terrible things happening. It just rolls on and on and on and on.. (well you get the idea) There was no point during this book that I thought wow this is great, or even good. All I wanted it to do was end. Then the ending came and thats when I discovered something positive. With an ending like that, I have absolutely no compulsion to get the next book and immediately deleted it from my library!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angique18 01-15-13
    Angique18 01-15-13
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    "Incredible Voice Acting"
    What did you love best about The Knife of Never Letting Go?

    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.


    What other book might you compare The Knife of Never Letting Go to and why?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Nick Podehl’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not, I did get the sequel and so far it is as good as this was.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J Livingston, TX, United States 02-06-12
    J Livingston, TX, United States 02-06-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Interesting but very turgid and repetitive."

    This book is written in 1st person stream of consciousness. The hard won achievements of the good guys always seem to be wiped out more or less effortlessly by the bad guys. It's a difficult read, because events seem to leap out at the reader with no rhyme or reason. The loose threads of the plot may get bound up or just left dangling.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tim lowell, IN, United States 01-22-12
    tim lowell, IN, United States 01-22-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Annoying Main Character"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The Main Character is beyond Annoying. Nick Podehl does a great job portraying a little brat of a child. The only problem with this, is i was annoyed so much i had to stop listening to this book. While this book well written, and had a story that keep some of my attention, the main character was a young boy that all i wanted to do was smack.


    If you’ve listened to books by Patrick Ness before, how does this one compare?

    no


    What about Nick Podehl’s performance did you like?

    Another Great performance by Nick Podehl.


    Was The Knife of Never Letting Go worth the listening time?

    Not in my mind.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jen Brisbane, Australia 08-01-11
    Jen Brisbane, Australia 08-01-11
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    "Over-rated, annoying, not worth it"

    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

    6 of 11 people found this review helpful
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