The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1)

 
4.7
 
4.7 (2)
1599 0
The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1)
Author(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
July 14, 2009
ISBN
0763645761
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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.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Gritty & Compelling
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
What I Loved:

Told in the distinct semi-educated vernacular of the hero Todd, THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO is at once gritty, heartbreaking, compelling, and thought-provoking. At its core, the story is a coming of age tale with some elements of the Chosen One motif. It's also a look at colonization, racism, and what happens when men deviate from a society's accepted moral code and create their own. Readers will find a gold mine of thematic depths to parse, but will be so carried away by the unrelenting conflict and suspense that it may surprise them to find they've also been deeply challenged and unsettled once they turn the last page.

The character of Todd is one of the most unique voices I've come across in YA literature. Semi-educated, loyal, and afraid of the things he discovers about himself and his world, Todd's journey to manhood and the definitions he accepts and rejects about what manhood means, is fascinating and disturbing all at once. It may take readers a few chapters to settle into Todd's voice and into the rules of his world, but once he hooks a reader, he never lets go. Secondary characters are also interesting and add dimension (especially the character of Viola) but only in the sense that they add to Todd's journey of discovery. This is Todd's story--his birth from innocent boy to terrified fugitive to a young man who has gained an understanding of good and evil (his own and others) the hard way.

The world is also fascinating--an colonized planet full of familiar creatures and unfamiliar ones as well. The premise is well executed for the most part, and the pacing is relentless. Readers may need to set the story aside a few times just to take a break from the intensity, but no reader will be able to complain of boredom in a story that turns on its axis within two chapters and refuses to stop throwing curve balls from that point on.

What Left Me Wanting More:

The Chosen One motif, while secondary to the coming of age structure in this story, doesn't quite hold up to logic. While most of the story is rooted firmly in authentic character motivation, the explanation for why Todd alone attracts so much violent focus from the villains in the story strains credulity a bit. I found this didn't take away from the suspense, and there are over-arching motivations that make the plot work, so I suspect for many readers the hyper focus on Todd may not become an issue.

The ending is a tremendous cliffhanger, unusual for book one in a trilogy. Fortunately for readers who hate cliffhangers, books two and three are already available.

Final Verdict:

A unique voice, a brilliantly compelling narrative, and a gritty, nonstop adventure make THE KNIFE OF LETTING GO a must read for those who enjoy fantasy, sci fi, and coming of age adventures.
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User reviews

2 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.5  (2)
Characters 
 
5.0  (2)
Writing Style 
 
4.5  (2)
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Wow!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
This book was so unusual and satisfying in so many ways. Then there was the one bit - if you've read it you'll know which bit I mean - that just knocked me for six and had me in floods of tears. I haven't cried like that over a book for ages. The whole concept of audible thoughts sounds like a nightmare to write, and to read, but it worked very well.

I bought the rest of the trilogy straight after reading this, but this one was by far the best of the three in my opinion.
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Hooked me from the first sentence...
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Pace? Fast, but solid. The characters are in a hurry, but nothing seems rushed. Pretty much perfect.

Believable Characters? Yes. I mean, there’s some obvious weird stuff, but you’re reading a sci-fi book set on an alien planet. So you have to just accept some stuff is going to be different.

Insta-love or other annoying tropes? Nope. Thank goodness! There’s some pretty quick attraction, but insta-attraction is fine. Insta-love is NOT.

Info-dumps? Not really. You’re given information that you need, but not more than you want.

Does the author treat the reader as if they are intelligent? Definitely. This is definitely a book that caters to the older end of “young adult”.

Trigger Warnings? Not towards humans.

Is this part of a series? Yes. The Chaos Walking series.

Would I read more from this author? Definitely. Though I’m a bit afraid to read the second book in this series, because a sophmore slump would make me cry.
Good Points
Well, the thing that intrigued me about the book was actually the blurb on the back, from Frank Cottrell Boyce. He said it was “One of the best first sentences I’ve ever read and a book that lives up to it!” Well, after reading that, obviously I just HAD to turn to the first page, and read the first sentence. Then the second, the third, the first page. Then, only when I had finished the first page, did I look back up at the librarian who had offered up the book as one of her personal favorites, and whisper “I’ll take it!”

I wandered over, nose thoroughly stuck into book, and edged my way into a library chair (luckily it was empty). I sat without looking up, and continued to read quickly, and giggle. Soon the giggles, though, changed to a frown as I realized how really twisted of a situation the main character was in.

This is one of those books where if you can’t turn off your inner Grammar and Spelling Nazi…you aren’t going to be able to read it. Its written the way its written for a reason, but the horrible misspellings, the paragraph long run on sentences… It takes you a while to adjust and learn to accept them as part of the story.

Wow, this is one of those books that you can’t stop reading. I’d put it aside for a few minutes to get something done, and find myself drawn back into it. I’d say “I’m done reading for the night” and put it aside, only to pick it up again just minutes later.

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