The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, book 1)
By Patrick Ness, read by Nick Podehl
Published 2010 by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio
Todd Hewitt lives on New World, in Prentisstown with his caretakers, who took him in after his parents died. He is the last boy in town and is about to reach manhood when something completely unforeseen happens. You see, on New World, there is noise - the thoughts and feelings of every man and beast. But Todd finds a space of silence in the swamp and discovers something he's never seen in real life before - a girl. This will change his life forever.
I had heard a lot of praise for this book when it first came out and the premise of the series sounded really appealing to me, but of course I never managed to get around to it. I downloaded the audiobook not too long along but kept putting off listening to it - I felt a bit apprehensive about listening because I had heard the book was written in some kind of dialect and I wasn't sure how this would translate on audio. But another librarian I know listened to the book and had nothing but good things to say, so I decided to make it my next listen. I'm very glad I did. This was a great book to listen to. The narrator does a fantastic job of using his inflection to differentiate between a huge cast of characters, including good guys, bad guys, women, and a variety of animals. These characters are all really fascinating and the world that Ness creates is incredibly complex and interesting. I was totally pulled in from the very beginning and couldn't wait to find out what happened next. This book is full of suspense and intrigue and I can see why readers would flock to this story. I was right with Todd every step of the way, anxious to find out the secrets of New World. I loved Todd and Viola's developing relationship - I think it was executed perfectly. There is the appropriate amount of hesitation in the beginning and the slowly lessening apprehension that develops into true appreciation for each other. Amazingly, I didn't realize this book took place on another planet into maybe a third of the way through this book - I easily imagined this to be a ravaged and disturbing version of Earth. And that's something else that should be mentioned - this is a VERY disturbing book. I've noticed a couple of reviewers who consider this more appropriate for adult readers, but I think these reviewers are underestimating our teen readers. Yes, this book is full of disturbing things - torture, death, conspiracies, gore, etc. But I don't think it's ever more than a teen could handle. And ultimately, as I think I've said before, it's up to the teen to decide what s/he can or can't handle. Anyway, I really, really liked this book and can't wait to read the next one. I was incredibly upset by one particular event and I did get a bit annoyed with Aaron, but ultimately, I found this a very satisfying book to listen to.