Reviews for Knife of Never Letting Go

Booklist Reviews 2008 September #1
*Starred Review* Chased by a madman preacher and possibly the rest of his townsfolk as well, young Todd Hewitt flees his settlement on a planet where war with the natives has killed all the women and infected the men with a germ that broadcasts their thoughts aloud for all to hear. This cacophanous thought-cloud is known as Noise and is rendered with startling effectiveness on the page. The first of many secrets is revealed when Todd discovers an unsettling hole in the Noise, and quickly realizes that he lives in a much different world than the one he thought he did. Some of the central conceits of the drama can be hard to swallow, but the pure inventiveness and excitement of the telling more than make up for it. Narrated in a sort of pidgin English with crack dramatic and comic timing by Todd and featuring one of the finest talking-dog characters anywhere, this troubling, unforgettable opener to the Chaos Walking trilogy is a penetrating look at the ways in which we reveal ourselves to one another, and what it takes to be a man in a society gone horribly wrong. The cliffhanger ending is as effective as a shot to the gut. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Spring
Todd lives in a brutal all-male society where thoughts are audible. He escapes, embarking on a classic coming-of-age survival journey accompanied by his loyal dog and a mysterious girl. Todd's world is fascinating, and the psychological and sociological impact of being unable to shut out others' thoughts--or hide your own--is creatively explored. The relationships, too, have considerable emotional depth. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #6
When Todd was a baby, a group of settlers, himself and his parents among them, landed on a faraway planet and contracted a "Noise" germ that makes all thoughts (even those of animals) audible. Growing up in the regimented, brutal all-male village of Prentisstown, Todd accepts the oppressive, omnipresent Noise, the absence of women (supposedly killed by Noise), and the vilification of the indigenous "Spackle" people without question -- until he encounters a strange pocket of silence, and his adoptive parents orchestrate his escape to another settlement he never knew existed. Pursued by Prentisstown's terrifying preacher, Todd embarks on a classic coming-of-age survival journey. He is accompanied by Manchee, a loyal dog whose simple thoughts are both annoyance and comfort, and a mysterious girl who has no trouble keeping her secrets: her thoughts are inexplicably silent. It's no great leap to guess the planet's true history, and while Ness builds tension around Prentisstown's murky backstory, he withholds information for a gratuitously long time, dulling the surprises when they are finally revealed. However, Todd's world is a fascinating one, and the psychological and sociological impact of being unable to shut out others' thoughts -- or hide your own -- is creatively explored. The relationships, too, are nuanced; slow to evolve, they have considerable emotional depth by the last page. Todd's colloquial voice is by turns defensive, belligerent, innocent, and desperate; the strength of his point of view and the subtle world-building contained in it make this series opener as promising as it is provocative. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 August #2
Todd Hewitt has never known quiet. Growing up on an alien planet where thoughts are broadcast and animals speak, 12-year-old Todd is the last boy in a town of men. He quickly goes from outcast to target after finding two surprises in Prentisstown's swamp: a wrecked colony spaceship and Viola, the first girl he has ever seen. In fleeing Prentisstown, Todd and Viola discover its ugly history and terrifying plans. Uneven pacing and an unbelievable premise hobble this work, Ness's first attempt at YA fiction. Events pile up and then freeze while Todd addresses an emotional crisis. Viola's page presence is so weak as to be forgettable, though Manchee, Todd's loyal dog, will grow on readers as the narrative progresses. Ness's attempt to develop Todd's character by including colloquialisms in nearly every aspect of the narrative only succeeds in driving readers out of the tale. Attempting to address adolescent angst, information overload and war, Ness ends up delivering merely noise. (Science fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2008 November

Gr 9 Up--Todd Hewitt lives in a world in which all women are dead, and the thoughts of men and animals are constantly audible as Noise. Graphically represented by a set of scratchy fonts and sentence fragments that run into and over each other, Noise is an oppressive chaos of words, images, and sounds that makes human company exhausting and no thought truly private. The history of these peculiar circumstances unfolds over the course of the novel, but Ness's basic world-building is so immediately successful that readers, too, will be shocked when Todd and his dog, Manchee, first notice a silence in the Noise. Realizing that he must keep the silence secret from the town leaders, he runs away, and his terrified flight with an army in pursuit makes up the backbone of the plot. The emotional, physical, and intellectual drama is well crafted and relentless. Todd, who narrates in a vulnerable and stylized voice, is a sympathetic character who nevertheless makes a few wrenching mistakes. Manchee and Aaron, a zealot preacher, function both as characters and as symbols. Tension, suspense, and the regular bombardment of Noise are palpable throughout, mitigated by occasional moments of welcome humor. The cliff-hanger ending is unexpected and unsatisfying, but the book is still a pleasure for sophisticated readers comfortable with the length and the bleak, literary tone.--Megan Honig, New York Public Library

[Page 133]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2008 October
Todd Hewitt is a boy inundated with information. Since an unfortunate encounter with germ warfare killed the women in Prentisstown and left the men and other animals unable to conceal their thoughts from each other, life has been somewhat depressing. Students cannot avoid cheating on tests so they stop going to school. The townsmen think wistfully of their wives and maliciously of one another. Preacher Aaron judges with an iron fist and punishes anyone who merely thinks a naughty word. When boys become men on their thirteenth birthday, they become secretive and sad. A month from turning thirteen, Todd and his pesky dog, Manchee, find something in the swamp that triggers a cascade of tragic events, leaving Todd and Manchee to flee the only home they know with the men of Prentisstown hot on their trails. Ness's first contribution to young adult literature is mesmerizing yet ultimately disappointing. His skillfully structured narrative creates an elegant mixture of action, dialogue, and dark, dystopian pathos. The most evocative scenes involve Todd and his steadfast pooch, Manchee. The novel unfortunately uses hackneyed and irritating plot devices such as seemingly immortal villains, an über-religious villain, and repeatedly delayed revelations that in turn prolong the hero's struggle. Creepy Preacher Aaron, in particular, survives attacks by swamp animals and a dog and many bouts with a very sharp knife, all while delivering fervent prophetic statements. Steer this one to mature fans of Patrick Carman's House of Power series who want something darker and better written.-Angelica Delgado 3Q 4P J S Copyright 2008 Voya Reviews.