The Knife of Never Letting Go

The Knife of Never Letting Go

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first instalment of the hugely successful Chaos Walking Trilogy. First published in 2008, it was Patrick Ness’s first novel for young adults and won the Booktrust Teenage Prize, the Guardian Award and the James Triptree, Jr. Award in the same year. It has since been followed by two sequels:  The Ask and the Answer (2009) and Monsters of Men (2010).

The story is set on a planet known as New World which was settled by religious pilgrims around twenty years prior to the novel. Todd Hewitt is twelve years old and is only one month away from becoming a man. He lives in the isolated community of Prentisstown – a place where all the women have been killed by a deadly plague. As a side effect of this disease, all animals have also been granted the ability to talk (though most do not have much to say) and the men have been made unable to hide their thoughts from each other. The sound of their inner-most thoughts, called the Noise, is heard endlessly throughout the town and so there are no secrets between them.

One day, while exploring the swamps around his home, Todd comes across something impossible – a patch of silence within the Noise. Fleeing home in a panic, Todd’s Noise inadvertently reveals what he has discovered to the rest of the town. This is a problem. The Mayor and Aaron, the town’s preacher, have always sworn that there is no silence anywhere. Now Todd has uncovered their lie.

When he reaches home, Todd discovers that his guardians have been preparing for him to escape the town for a long time. The sudden danger that has befallen him serves to speed their hand. As the Mayor’s men ransack his home, Todd is forced to escape into the wilderness with only his dog, Manchee, for company. Although he does not understand what is going on, he is given a map to the next town and a simple instruction: You must warn them.

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