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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    462
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    354
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    170
  • 2 Stars
    67
  • 1 Stars
    32

Performance

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    218
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    90
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    12

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Howard
  • Cumberland, MD, United States
  • 05-24-12

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.

22 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ryan
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 06-14-12

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’”.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

17 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cristy G
  • Bluffton, SC, United States
  • 01-05-12

“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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Walk away

I have to agree with another reviewer that this book is sadistic, ugly and needs some direction. There isn't enough carrot on the stick for me to continue with this punishment of a book. The only bright side is that Nick Podehl is a great narrator and what he does with this book is a fantastic job. But that is not enough to make up for this depressing read. If you are looking for a protagonist that is quick witted, intelligent, and creative, then this book isn't for you. The main character was very moody and frustrating slow at times and lost all redeeming qualities two thirds way through the book (but that comes with a spoiler). The overall story seems to have potential but its execution just sucks. For example, it gets rather annoying to hear the author continuously repeat actions for dramatic effect. Also, If you are an animal lover this might not be a good listen. I won't spoil it, but just know you have been warned! Lastly, to top it all off, the book ends with a cliff hanger.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

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.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Obvious, boring, repetitive

Reasonable premise. Takes forever to unfold. Plot "twists" are obvious and lame. Long, repetitive action sequences are also boring and obvious.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

tough to get through

I would not have chosen this book but my daughter had to read it for school. we listened to it together. the ending was very disappoining though I know there's a sequel and that's why they probably wouldn't let it be over.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

The whining of never letting go

If you feel like listening to the inner-dialogue a 12 year old for almost 12 hours, then this is the book for you! Personally I am sending it back, I have already survived 3 teenagers with 3 more to go, so I have had heard quite enough whining. I don't know if this would really appeal to "youth readers", but I certainly think there are better choices out there for them.

I did listen to the whole book, I really wanted to give it a chance. But the main character is so incredibly dense, that is is painful, to the brain and the ear alike. I can't imagine enduring 2 more books like this. The ending was indeed the most interesting part, and for a split second I thought about continuing the series to see where it would go. But I am going to save my money and move on.

The talking dog is really the best character, even though it feels like a cheap version of a Billy-Bumbler.

I realized that I am not a big fan of Nick Podehl either, I listened to the "KingKiller Chronicles" and there is a "whining" quality to some of the characters in that series as well. So I am left to wonder if it doesn't have something to do with the narrator?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful