It’s hard to know where to start with my reaction to The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I had read review after review praising this first book in the Chaos Walking series, but none of them prepared me for the experience of reading it myself. At first I had a hard time getting into it, more to do with me than the book. This is not a book that can be picked up and read lightly. It demands time and attention. Once I could give it my time and attention, the story sucked me in with the power of the best of books. Words and images from it are still bouncing around in my head days later.
Imagine a world where your thoughts–all of them–are broadcast to the world. Everyone can hear the NOISE. You also can hear the thoughts and images constantly streaming from every other man and boy around you. There is no way to shut it out or off. All the women and girls in your village have died from the same disease that causes the NOISE. Oh yes, you can also hear the thoughts of all the animals, even if their thoughts don’t say much.
This is the world in which Tod is counting down the days until his 13th birthday, the day he becomes a man. But before his birthday arrives, discovers a silence in the marsh. Behind the silence is a girl–the first he’s ever seen. Because he discovers Viola, Tod is thrust out of the village and on a journey that will change his life if it doesn’t destroy him first. He flees with Viola (whose silence is deafening), and they discover that each secret hides yet another that is ever more terrifying. Their journey continues with twists and turns that I never saw coming. Along the way, Tod and Viola learn to trust each other, and their growing relationship remains central.
The only thing I didn’t like was the ending. Just when I thought Tod and Viola would make it to safety, Ness pulls the rug out from under them, setting up the second book in the trilogy. I will have to add it to my ever growing stack of books to read.