Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in a constant, overwhelming, never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets.
Then, just one month away from the birthday that will make Todd Hewitt a man, he unexpectedly stumbles on a spot of complete silence. Which is impossible.
Breathtakingly exciting and emotionally charged, The Knife of Never Letting Go is a compelling original story of fear, flight and the terrifying path of self-discovery.
Holy moly. I’m going to keep this review short so that I can jump straight into Book 2: The Ask and the Answer, because this book ends on the most unbearable cliffhanger. The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy and I need to preface this review by saying that if you plan on reading The Knife of Never Letting Go, you should have the other two books on hand! Warning: I just finished reading this novel so this review probably won’t make too much sense.
The Knife of Never Letting Go is a sci-fi, dystopian novel, set in New World, where everybody can hear everybody else’s thoughts, or their Noise. In this world, animals and living things also have Noise. 12 year old Todd Hewitt lives in Prentisstown with his two guardians and his dog, Manchee. There are no women in Prentisstown and Todd is the only boy left in his small town. One day, Todd stumbles finds a spot of complete silence and discovers that things in Prentisstown, and on New World, aren’t as he’s been told. His new discovery leads him to have to pack up his belongings and run away from Prentisstown.
It’s probably best to go into the book not knowing anything because it’s a thrilling and suspenseful story about survival and self-discovery. We follow Todd as he escapes from Prentisstown and makes his way around the New World. Along the way, he is hunted by an army from Prentisstown and a crazy preacher who seems to be out to get him. I enjoyed the suspense in this novel quite a bit. We were left in the dark from the very beginning and things are only revealed to us as they are revealed to Todd. I didn’t find myself speculating very much, simply because everything was complex and unpredictable and I was happy to just go along for the ride. There were some scenes that were quite violent and gruesome, and the suspenseful tone of the book made these even more bloodcurdling and horrific. This plot was definitely a rollercoaster ride for me. It gave me multiple heart attacks and ripped my heart out. There were lots of feels and a bit of crying.
The uniqueness of the writing style hits you straight away. The book is written in first person narration, in an almost stream of consciousness manner. It’s something that might take a while to get used to but the style of it definitely enhanced the story for me. I felt completely immersed in the world and Todd’s story, and the writing flowed beautifully because of its stream of consciousness nature. I found myself just flying through the book because of how well the writing flowed and how everything had its place. I thoroughly enjoyed Todd’s voice and thought it suited his character very well. There are intentional grammatical and spelling issues to showcase Todd’s background and his lack of education that might irk some readers but I didn’t have any issues with it, even though I’m a big grammar Nazi.
I really liked the characters in this book a lot. Todd was a protagonist that I didn’t always love, but his actions and his thoughts were realistic, and it was easy for me to forgive his bad decisions and shortcomings. He’s definitely an isolated boy who wants to belong but doesn’t conform to society’s expectations. I was amazed by the strength in his character. It’s hard to remember that he’s just a child because he’s doing all these incredible things to survive. I appreciated that we got to witness his inner turmoil and his efforts to maintain his innocence when the rest of the world is trying so hard to break him. I loved the development and growth in his character and thought it was the most noteworthy aspect of the book. His mental strength and willpower amazed me. However, my favourite aspect of this book was the beautiful relationship between Todd and his talking dog, Manchee. Manchee was by far my favourite character and I had a lot of Manchee feels. Cue tears.
I thought the villains in this book were also exceptional. They were so evil and terrifying that I was actually scared by how insane and crazy they were. It was also incredibly horrifying how persistent these villains were in their pursuit. One guy literally has half his face bitten off (there’s a hole in his cheek and he’s missing a nose) and he’s still alive and chasing after Todd. It was scary and horrific, but also perfectly executed and I need to start The Ask and the Answer now.