Science Fiction

The Chaos Walking Series

Author: Patrick Ness

Published By: Candlewick Press

Reviewed by Justine Manzano


            Iím always open to reading list suggestions, but I never seem to exhaust the list Iíve got, so Iím drowning in books ďto be readĒ.  When my friend, Stephen - fellow lover of The Hunger Games - recommended a new book to me, I added it to the end of my list.  A year later, I still hadnít gotten to it and Stephen pushed it again, so I jumped it forward.  That book was Patrick Nessí The Knife of Never Letting Go.

            The Knife of Never Letting Go is Book 1 of the Chaos Walking Series. T he book follows Todd Hewitt, the last boy in a town of men.  Growing up in Prentisstown, a settlement on an alien planet, Todd has never seen a woman in his life.  The history of Prentisstown states that all of the women died out when the settlers encountered the Noise germ - which killed all of the women and left the men with the ability to hear each otherís thoughts as though they were spoken.  A month away from becoming a man, Todd realizes that the residents of the town are keeping something from him in their Noise - something dangerous enough that his adoptive parents, Ben and Cillian, set him on the run from the town with nothing more than a knife, some food, his dog, Manchee, and his motherís journal.  As the men of Prentisstown attack Ben and Cillian in an effort to gain access to Todd, Todd runs furiously, right into a creepy source of silence - a vacuum within the Noise Todd hears from everyone and everything he has ever known.  Even the animals have Noise, and Manchee and Todd communicate through it.

This silence is strange and scares him.  At first he believes it is one of the Spackle, the alien race that the humans wiped out upon their arrival to the planet. He quickly discovers it is something much more impossible - a human girl named Viola.  A common enemy sets Todd and Viola off on the run together, in an adventure where everything is about survival, and everything Todd believed about this planet and Prentisstown is about to be turned completely upside down.

            The Knife of Never Letting Go is brilliantly drawn.  Patrick Ness never gets bogged down in writing rules, never hesitates to take a risk and effortlessly adopts the voice of Todd, a young, ignorant farm boy, with the completeness of Mark Twainís Huckleberry Finn.  None of the characters in this story are perfect, most are barely good, but they are all real, and Todd and Viola still manage to shine through as a beacon of light on this seemingly godforsaken planet despite nearly unbeatable odds.  An insightful conversation about feminism, misogyny, violence, love, the nature of war, and the idea of finding who you really are despite who you were raised to be, it looks like Ness has never found a topic he will shy away from and itís a blessing to this tale.

If you choose to follow Todd into the other two books in this series, The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men (and after the ending of book 1, I dare you not to), you will find yourself ending up in a place you never thought youíd be, crying over characters you swore you hated and wanting to shake people you believed you loved or at least, understood.

As someone who is not prone to getting all teary eyed over just anything, this book is a brilliantly written emotional roller coaster that pulls you in and wonít let you go - I read these books in weeks and they stuck with me long after I was done.

Pro tip!  If you read these books, make sure to pick up the corresponding short stories (each of my digital copies had a short story tacked to the end).  Trust me, they change everything.



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