Cover of The Knife of Never Letting Go, with two figures running with a dog under a red sky with two moons

About the Book

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1)
Published: 2008
Series: Chaos Walking
Swoonworthy Scale: 2

BFF Charm: Yay
Talky Talk: Aw Shucks!
Bonus Factors: Loyal Pet, Dystopia
Relationship Status: Going Steady

Based on the very high recommendation of Jill, one of our lovely commenters (heeeeey girl!), I decided to give this book a shot, and WOW. I feel like that kid seeing a lobster for the first time cos WHOAH! WOW! WHOAH! I didn’t know anything about this novel except that it was dystopian, and my ignorance made the story that much more exciting. Since I want y’all to have the same nail-biting experience, I will strictly abide by our minimal spoiler policy, which means this report will be sparser than usual. Just don’t let my lack of detail dissuade you from picking up this literary piece of crazytown, cos it is totes B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

The Deal:

Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown. All of the other males have reached the age at which manhood is bestowed, and all of the women died when Todd was a baby. And as if that wasn’t cray cray enough, everyone’s thoughts are now… audible. Um hello NIGHTMARE MUCH? Not only does it suck to have everyone hear your secrets, it’s also a total mind f*ck because the sounds never stop. There is no such thing as silence, because even when people are asleep, their dreams are broadcast at full volume. I’m assuming the women died from MORTIFICATION?!! To escape this horrible cacophony known as The Noise, Todd spends much of his time in the nearby forest swampland, formerly the home of the Spackle, an alien race rendered extinct by territory wars with the humans. Even without other guys around, the Noise persists, because GUESS WHAT. You can hear animals too! What WHAT!!!!! I know Todd would disagree, but i think that is TOTALLY AWESOME, esp. if you’ve seen Up. SQUIRREL!

As the story begins, Todd is cursing his adolescence and killing time with his dog, Manchee, who will not shut up about having to poop (LUV U MANCHEE). Little does Todd know that things are about to get completely and utterly UNSANE!!!!!!

BFF Charm: Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

It took me a while to warm up to Todd, until I remembered that he’s a twelve-year-old boy. Then I was like, “Ooooh! Now your immaturity and extremely impulsive behavior makes sense! Dang, I bet you kinda smell weird, too.” But, like any good hero, Todd’s character improves tremendously as he faces a series of totally terrifying challenges that made me alternate between pumping my fist and closing the book so I could remind myself that my own life was not, in fact, at risk. Because lord have MERCY Patrick Ness is cruel. We’re talking Suzanne-Collins-level, i.e. HARDCORE BRUTAL to his characters, and also to readers who tend to have problems separating reality from YA fiction. Ahem. By the end, not only did I want to give Todd a bff charm, I wanted to be, like, blood brothers with him (ok, not literally… well, you’ll see) cos he yearns to do what’s right, and it’s that motivation that makes him brave, which, in my opinion, is the best kind of courage.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

Y’all, this is a straight up adventure book. And that’s all I can say at this time. (I’m starting to feel like an FBI agent or something. It’s kinda awesome, esp. cos I LOVE KEEPING SECRETS. SHHHH!!!)

Talky Talk: Aw Shucks!

I’ll admit, the narration in this book takes a little getting used to. Todd’s dialect is pretty hick-ish, since he grew up on a farm, and most of the book learnin’ stopped after all of the women folk died. Fortunately, the story grabbed me so quickly that I couldn’t really focus on anything else besides OMG WHAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. Patrick Ness really keeps the action coming, in that “Oh you think things are bad now? Well… WHAT ABOUT THIS?!” kinda way. In other words, he gets all up in your grill. Fortunately, the speed of the plot doesn’t sacrifice the authenticity of Todd’s inner struggles, and his voice rings clear and true, no matter how fast you turn the pages. (And I turned ’em pretty fast, y’all. We’re talking, animated flip book style).

Bonus Factor: Loyal Pet

Golden retriever looking at camera while being hugged by a man

Honestly, I can’t believe this factor hasn’t come up before, esp. considering how many dystopia YA novels are coming out. Then again, it’s not like the tributes would want to bring their favorite little puppy into the Hunger Games arena. Anyhoo, Todd’s dog Manchee is MY FAVORITE THING IN THIS ENTIRE BOOK. He follows in the grand tradition of Loyal Pets (see: Boomer in Independence Day and Oy in The Dark Tower series) who stand by their owners no matter what because THEY LOVE THEM OMG!!!! Manchee has the added bonus of actually being able to talk, which is nice cos Lassie was great and all, but seriously, who can understand all of that frenzied barking?

Bonus Factor: Dystopia

Scene from Bladerunner with a flying car in a city looking at a giant electronic billboard of a geisha

The environment in this book is definitely dystopian, but it’s also completely different than what you would expect. Ness has created a world that, for me, is a refreshing change from your typical the-government-is-evil, big brother blah blah blah. Basically, this book is a whole new ball game, and I’m totally buying one of those big foam hands cos I am officially a superfan.

Relationship Status: Going Steady

This book and I are not just messing around–we are FOR SERIOUS. In fact, things are pretty intense between us, and I think I’m ready to take our relationship to the Next Level. I’m talking, of course, about reading the sequel, The Ask and the Answer, which is WAITING FOR ME AT THE LIBRARY RIGHT NOW. GAH!!! I cannot stop thinking about it, to the point where I think I’m gonna cut class (gasp!) just so we can hang out immediately. Everyone knows I’m a total goody goody, but when it comes to this book, RULES BE DAMNED. Plus, if a teacher tries to catch me in the halls, I’ll just employ one of the numerous escape strategies I learned from my awesomely renegade boyfriend.

FTC Full Disclosure: I got this book from the library. I received neither cocktails nor compensation in exchange for this review.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.