The Knife of Never Letting Go

Chaos Walking, Book 1
Narrated by: Nick Podehl
Series: Chaos Walking, Book 1
Length: 11 hrs and 54 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1,566 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Now a major motion picture, the first novel in the riveting Chaos Walking trilogy by two-time Carnegie Medalist Patrick Ness.

“Narrated with crack dramatic and comic timing.... The cliffhanger ending is as effective as a shot to the gut.” --Booklist (starred review)

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him - something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

©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

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

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.

26 people found this 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!

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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’”.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

“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.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Knife of Having No Effin' Chill

Imagine a train. Imagine you board the train and it leaves the station and you travel through a nice field. Imagine just a few miles into your journey the train suddenly produces rocket boosters and the next thing you know you're halfway around the world. That's what reading this book feels like. If you love a good YA dystopia, make sure to give this one a read.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    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 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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Masterpiece!

What did you love best about The Knife of Never Letting Go?

The story and characters.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Knife of Never Letting Go?

So many moments.When Todd killed one of the SpackleThe ending when Todd found Haven empty and what happened to the noise?

What does Nick Podehl bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Amazing performance.He nailed it. Todd and mimicking all the other characters, he brought this book to life. Excellent voice and accents, I wish all Audible performances were this good

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The noise will consume you!

2 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Nope.

Conceptually interesting, but terrible in practice. I kept listening, thinking it might redeem itself... no such luck. Maybe just not for grown-ups?

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Horrible

Poorly written, dark, and cruel. If you have any feelings for animals, don't listen to this book

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

7 people found this helpful