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

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  104,346 Ratings  ·  11,634 Reviews
A dystopian thriller follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard — and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret.

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
Hardcover, 479 pages
Published September 9th 2008 by Candlewick (first published May 5th 2008)
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Dani Winchester I wasn't bothered at all. The misspellings aren't terribly invasive and I hardly notice them as the narrative plows on. The vernacular is very fitting…moreI wasn't bothered at all. The misspellings aren't terribly invasive and I hardly notice them as the narrative plows on. The vernacular is very fitting both for characterization and style; it makes sense that Todd, an illiterate farm boy, uses phonetics in his speech and storytelling--this is what the words sound/look like in his Noise, so why wouldn't they look the same to the reader as he's narrating? I also find it to be somewhat endearing because it adds authenticity to his voice, making him feel like an actual person rather than a character on a page. We're seeing everything through Todd; he is our lens and this is merely his translation of the world.(less)
The Polka Dot Oh my goodness thank you! He is so brilliantly written, and you don't even see him in first person for the majority of this book. He is a villain, a…moreOh my goodness thank you! He is so brilliantly written, and you don't even see him in first person for the majority of this book. He is a villain, a father, a conqueror, a crazy ass control freak mind raping man. In the next 2 though, jeez, you don't hate him nearly as much as you know you should. His son though.... :((less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Emily May
“Knowledge is dangerous and men lie and the world changes, whether I want it to or not.”

Every once in a while I find myself back on the Goodreads page of a book I read and adored a few years ago. I see the cover and remember first holding it in my hands and not knowing I was in for a magical experience. My eyes scan the description and I get goosebumps as I'm taken back into the story, feeling echoes of the emotions I felt once again. Then I glance down... and see my "review".

That's when I sta
Jan 13, 2014 karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: why-yes-i-ya
i have 2,410 friends on

199 of them have this book on their shelves.
of that number, only 28 have read it.

to the other 171 of you, i say - "WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???" and you can see i am serious about this, because i have done math in order to convince you.**

and i know, i know. there are a lot of books in the world, most of us are mortal, who has the time, etc. i myself had all three of the books in this trilogy just smooshed in the middle of piles of other books at my place, thi
The Holy Terror
Things that didn't bother me:

The grammar and misspellings - normally this would bother me, but I quickly got used to it, so I don't fault him there.

The swearing - you will notice from my status updates that I don't mind a well-placed curse.

The violence - I play violent video games, watch violent movies, and I don't mind violence in books when it makes sense.

The cliffhanger - maybe if I didn't have a copy of the second book on hold at the library I would be upset, but cliffhangers don't normally
Rachel Hartman
Boy oh boy. I can't remember the last time I felt so simultaneously positive and negative about a book. Hence the three stars, averaging everything out.

(Just realized that I reviewed this at my blog but not here. Here's the cut-n-paste)

This review will, by necessity, have lots of spoilers, because the things I liked (and disliked) are very specific. Insofar as I can give you something spoiler-free, here goes: I love the concept; the world is unique and well-realized; the relationship between the
Whitney Atkinson
Apr 24, 2015 Whitney Atkinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Forever crying because "Todd?"
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘ (of badger and SNAKE)

Some books make you confused. Conflicted. Did you really like them? Can you recommend them? Would you read them again?

And you sigh, sigh, sigh.

The Knife of Never Letting Go is not this kind of book. Hey, I'm not afraid to say that it was insta-love for me.

Does it make me a NA heroine? You tell me : I read 3 or 4 pages and I was like, "Oh. My. I'm gonna love this book!"

Yep. But perhaps you want to know why? How could I move from "pretty rational reader" (I think. I hope. Oh, shut up) to "bad
Jan 12, 2014 Priscilla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!

Okay, here's some first impressions:
1) Awesome.
2) Great.
3) EFFING awesome.
4) Manchee!!
5) Seriously?!
6) Non-stop, action, adventure, twists, unexpected relationships, character development unlike any other, heartache, anticipation, lovely, sweet, horror, anger, unique writing style, original and fresh.
7) Seriously chaos walking.

Watch out for a video review tomorrow :)
Megs ♥
Dec 26, 2013 Megs ♥ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Megs ♥ by: karen

In this absorbing world Patrick Ness created, only men exist. All of the men can hear each other's thoughts, and these thoughts are called noise. When you turn 14 you become a man, and the anticipation for this is astounding.

Todd Hewitt is about to become a man. He was told that there are no woman, because they were all killed off. One day, when he's out with his dog, Manchee, he finds a spot where there is no noise. Surely, he thinks, this is impossible. Soon he is confused further, when his pa
Cross-posted at Outlaw Reviews and at Shelf Inflicted

Young Todd Hewitt is on the verge of manhood and living in Prentisstown, a world without women and where the thoughts of men and “creachers” can be heard. Todd’s dad died of illness and his ma was the “last of the women”, according to Ben, one of two men who are raising him. Todd likes to go to the swamp to collect apples, because it is the only place where he can get a break from men’s “Noise” – their secrets, their thoughts, their memories.
Feb 14, 2011 Joyzi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ifs yer a grammar nazi don hother *kidding*
Recommended to Joyzi by: The Hype
Complete, Edited and without effing Spoilers!

Caution: This book is not for sensitive and fainthearted readers. The book contains murder, misogyny, gore, violence against children, children doing brutal things and foul language. Seriously IMO this fits more to adult readers, it was just so sick and disturbing that a part of me believed that this probably should not be in the YA category (or maybe that’s just me). 16 years old and plus will do (I copy the same censorship of Elfen Lied and Higurash
Jan 24, 2016 Samantha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-my-shelf
Edit: I originally rated this book 2.5 stars, but on further consideration, it is more of a 1.5-2 star book for me.

The writing and themes explored in this book are excellent. The writing style is unique and part of the world building in a lot of ways. I found the actual plot, particularly the "twists", as well as the characters, especially the villains, to be lacking. A predictable plot and villains who are evil for the sake of being evil can really kill a story for me and that's what happened h
Hard to know how to rate this book. It is amazing and powerful, but so sad it made me angry and made me not want to recommend it to anyone. If you're up for a punch in the stomach. . . here's your book.
Kristin (KC)

(A Poo-Todd Audio Reread)

*4 Stars*

This book was a pleasant surprise, and not at all because I thought its storyline wouldn't work, but I was skeptical as to whether it would work for me.

Told through the candid and youthful perspective of a twelve year old boy on the cusp of manhood, The Knife of Never Letting Go presents an incredibly unique plot that's both simple in its storytelling and layered in its depth.

Todd is the youngest boy in a society consisting solely of men, and this is his norma
Edit: 03/12/15 - added an essay I wrote for university to my review.

The essay:
“Too much informayshun becomes just Noise." - Dialects and Slang on New World

If you were to ask a group of people what kind of superpower they would like to have, there would definitely be at least one person who would like to be able to hear everybody's thoughts. This person should read “The Knife of Never Letting Go” (2008) by American-born British author Patrick Ness and possibly reconsider this answer. Set on New W
Shannon (leaninglights)
I have no idea why I waited so long to pick up this book. I freaking LOVED it. I 100% recommend the audiobook (which is currently on sale on Audible), because it was fantastic. I will listen to all of them on audio. It also lets you read the story without getting as caught up on the spelling of words. But that ending!!! Continuing with book 2 tonight because it can't wait!!
A lot of more recent books from the Young Adult/Dystopian genre seemingly tend to imitate the sweeping successes trilogies like The Hunger Games or Divergent were, featuring a likeable heroine, usually an attractive male protagonist, certain dystopian elements, some villains and an exciting plot. Don't be mistaken, a lot of those aspects you will discover in Patrick Ness' trilogy as well, but that's by far not everything this book has to present to its readers. Let me attempt to convince you of ...more
Julie Kagawa
Dec 26, 2013 Julie Kagawa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book. Not only is the concept unique, but the story itself is written so differently that I could not put it down. The author uses first person to tell the story of young Todd, capturing the diction and language of a adolecent, somewhat redneck boy perfectly with statements like: "The plans are still being planned, the preparayshuns prepared, it will be a party, I guess, tho I'm starting to get some strange pictures about it, all dark and too bright at the same time, but ...more
Jul 30, 2013 Amanda rated it it was amazing
In a world where we're bombarded with technology, our senses are often overwhelmed by the amount of noise and it's becoming increasingly difficult to find true quiet anymore (especially since most of us just plug into our computer or iPod as soon as it is quiet). A constant stream of sound and images feed us information, prod us toward rampant consumerism, and entertain us. I've become increasingly aware that many of my students seem uncomfortable with simple quiet--always wanting some sort of ...more
Sep 30, 2015 Denisse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: YA lovers
Recommended to Denisse by: Internet, I guess (?
4.5 Written in a very interesting and different way, it might be difficult to get used to it. But once you do, The knife of never letting go is an extraordinary story about innocence, maturity, loyalty, despair and sacrifice. With memorable characters and adventurous pace, Ness brings a lot of emotion and secrets to a world that hears everyone’s thoughts. It has the classical first-book-in-series issues for its big introduction, but it was an interesting one, with a main idea that goes deeper th ...more
Mar 24, 2016 Warda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect! Just perfect! Complete work of art. Everyone should read it and bless their sights with its glorious pages. I have nothing else to say.

Initial Final Page Thoughts.

OMFG. Proceeded by a scramble to buy the next book. I think this book had a more intense cliff hanger than The Italian Job.

High Point.

This could also be a low point… but I’m going to class it as a high point, for I have found a series that grabbed me as much (maybe more… WOAH) as The Hunger Games. And yes, I may become a hermit and forget to eat while I read these books, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Manchee! I LOVE the writing style, it was annoying at firs
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Book, how could you do this to me?

Bleakness. A terrible cliffhanger. Inhumanity and loss and disappointment. Oh, yes, and first person present tense narration, by a 13 year old undereducated boy.

Lots of reasons for this book to irk me. And yet.

There's loyalty and love and hope, even in the midst of darkness. There's being a man by being true to your convictions, even if it's not what everyone around you is telling you defines manhood. There's stumbling and disappointing yourself and those around
Aug 14, 2015 Rollie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dystopian Novels Fanatics
Recommended to Rollie by: Isamlq
What if you’re in another world; another planet? What if you haven’t seen a woman before? What if you hear people’s thought; what if animals’ too? What if you’re living with aliens? What if…what if… your dog talks?

Harry James Potter the boy who lived.

Katniss Everdeen the girl on fire.

And finally: Todd Hewitt the boy who can’t kill?

Well, I was hesitant to buy this book actually, for despite of the reason why I really wanted to read this book because of its 5-star ratings received from most of my
You know when you hear so many good things about a book and then you finally get around to reading it, and you think hmm I'm not sure I'll like this as much as everyone says. And then it's actually SO MUCH BETTER than you thought it would be.

This was that book for me. It wasn't really what I was expecting at all. And I LOVED IT!!

Starting The Ask and The Answer right now.
May 05, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Jo
Shelves: favorites
“How do you think you could have possibly come this far if you didn’t have hope?”

I jumped into The Knife of Never Letting Go knowing just two things—Jo recommended it and Patrick Ness wrote it. That was all I needed!

What I found was a new world with a western-sci-fi vibe, a language and tone all its own, new friends, and big, big lessons all wrapped up in love, suspense, and power. OH, did I say suspense? I meant SUSPENSE! Grit your teeth, white knuckle, I-can’t-turn-the-page-fast-enough suspen
Dannii Elle
So for the entire month of February I have been Patrick Ness crazy! Like, CRAZY!! I had never read any Ness before so I thought I'd pick up one or two of his books as I had heard only good things about his writing. This led to me buying almost everything he has ever written and reading them all back to back, without even pausing to write a review in-between. So, let me begin this review by apologizing to my GR friends for the onslaught of Ness-related reviews coming your way today! Sorry (not ...more
Jason Koivu
Jul 31, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't what I expected and that's a-okay fine, because The Knife of Never Letting Go is a razor-sharp story! (sorry, that was terrible)

I guess I was thinking this would be more cerebral, but it turned out to be a fast-paced, action-filled read that reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games in that it follows a kid in survival mode in a dystopian world.

Here's the story in a nutshell: A boy on the verge of becoming a man via his village's secretive initiation rites, flees the isolated community w
Mar 22, 2010 Tatiana rated it liked it
Recommended to Tatiana by: YA book club pick
Shelves: 2009, ya, ala-ya-2009
I've never heard of Patrick Ness or "Chaos Walking" trilogy before. Luckily for me, "The Knife of Letting Go" was a November pick of one of my YA book groups.

"The Knife of Never Letting Go" is one of those "boy" books - there is a lot of action, there is a chase, a lot of mystery and very little sappy romance. The dystopian/sci-fi setting is exciting - an alien planet where people can hear each others thoughts. The protagonist - Todd - is a 12-year old boy on the brink of manhood in a town wher
Karly *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*

N, is for P. Ness *snort-chuckle*... I mean: Patrick Ness. (Sorry, I could not resist!!)

ALL.THE.STARS. (5 Stars)

I have such a hard time when it comes to reviewing my five star reads. On the one hand there are a million thoughts and feelings vying for time in my review space, and on the other hand – for me – the five stars themselves speak volumes. However, I must try to impress upon my fellow readers my love of this book.

In the small settlement of Prentisstown Todd is the last boy. In a town
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
Okay, this was the kind of book that was so good it was, like, EVIL. The story totally sucks you in; it seemed weird to me at first, but once I got used to it, I couldn't put it down. It was written in a very interesting way – very simplistic, but the author says a lot in a few words, leaving lots of haunting images in the reader's mind. Todd is a great narrator and a lovable character. All the characters are pretty awesome, actually … I got so attached to them. >< Ahhhh just such an ...more
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Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.

He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Co
More about Patrick Ness...

Other Books in the Series

Chaos Walking (3 books)
  • The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking, #2)
  • Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking, #3)

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“We are the choices we make.” 1606 likes
“Without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.” 917 likes
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