Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness

Synopsis: 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 a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is. 

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Adventure, Dystopia

Published: May 5th, 2008

Length: 512 pages

My Rating: 3/5

This book came across my radar while I was watching some trailers for upcoming movies. Whenever I see a trailer that says “Based on the Best-Selling novel” I have to check out the book. Normally if the trailer looks even half-way decent, the book is sure to be a worthwhile read. I’m also a fan of reading the book and then watching the movie adaptation just to see how they’ve interpreted (or in some cases destroyed) certain parts of the book. It’s also fun to see how different the chosen actors are from how I had pictured the characters in my head.

*****Minor Spoilers in the Trailer******

Chaos Walking Trailer #1 -Youtube

The book itself is…interesting to say the least. It takes the first few chapters to acclimate to the way the story itself is written. The book is a first-person narrative in the perspective of the main character, almost-thirteen-year-old Todd Hewitt. Every man has been infected with a germ called Noise, causing thoughts to stream out of their head for everyone to hear, and you can really feel that ‘noise’ while reading the book. Todd is fairly uneducated, and this is reflected in how the author Patrick Ness spells a lot of words. Populayshun, affecshuns, twixt, ain’t, yer; words are simplified and spelled phonetically as I would imagine Todd might have spelled them. If grammar and proper spelling are important for you to thoroughly enjoy a story, this might be enough to put you off this book. 

Plot-wise, the action was consistent enough to keep my attention. There was enough mystery going into the book to hook my curiosity, and the author was great about revealing things little by little, so I had a hard time putting the book down. However, the further I got into the book, the more it began to feel like one of those stress dreams where you’re constantly running from something but no matter what you do, it’s always just right behind you so you can never stop. Sometimes, I just want a little break to catch my breath. 

Why I only gave this book 3/5 stars:

*******************Spoilers ahead************************

In some ways, this book felt very much like a video game. The bad guys pop up every so often, inciting a mini boss battle, and then they slink off to try again later. At a certain point, it becomes hard for me to believe that the Big Bad can still be alive to have one more fight at the end. I understand it’s science fiction, but clearly this bad guy did not have access to the healthcare necessary to keep him alive for this long, let alone in fighting shape. I was also not impressed with the shocking twist at the end. I just felt that the twist was forced, and not very believable. I will admit that since it’s only the first book in the series, it makes sense for the end to be a cliffhanger, I’m just not impressed with how the cliffhanger was set up.

Those are my legitimate concerns, I also have two smaller peeves about the book, which I will admit are petty and likely haven’t bothered other people the way they bothered me. The first is that by the end of the book, the metaphors get pretty heavy handed. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy when there is deeper meaning to what I read! I just get a little annoyed when I’m spoon-fed this ‘deeper meaning’ over and over, I prefer when it just sinks in naturally as the story grows. My second petty complaint is that Manchee, Todd’s dog and adorable companion, who more than pulls his weight the entire book, is mercilessly slaughtered. I mean, I get that characters die in the story, but why is it always the dog? His sacrifice feels so unnecessary after all that the main characters have survived up until that point. Or maybe I’m just too sensitive to dog deaths.

***********Spoilers finished*******************************

I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the book at all. I thought the premise was very interesting, the characters were complex and the plot was decent. But, based on my other concerns and my overall feeling after finishing the book, I don’t think I will be reading the other books in the series.

Leave a Reply