The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking, Book 1)

Todd lives on New World, a relatively recently colonized planet which his family chose over the chaos of the old planet...not that he knows much about his family, since his parents died shortly after he was born. Prentisstown is far from peaceful, since the whole town was infected by the Noise germ...which makes it so your thoughts can be heard by everyone around, even those thoughts you don't want anyone else to know. Another fun development is that animals can talk and hear Noise too, which isn't quite as great as you might think.

Prentisstown is the last civilization left on New World, and it's slowly dying because all the women were wiped out by the Spackle in the war. Their Noise germ killed all the women, and Todd is the youngest boy left. In less than a month, he will turn 13, and become a man...the last man. He was raised by Ben and Cillian, and was taught how to farm. The Mayor abolished books, and school, and most kinds of education because he decided it led to impure thoughts...mostly influenced by Aaron, the holy man of the town (who is pretty crazy, if you ask Todd).

One day, Todd is out in the swamp trying to get a little peace, away from all the Noise. He and his dog Manchee run into Aaron, never a pleasant encounter, but they also encounter something new - silence. A being without Noise...could it be the Spackle, back to attack again? But's a girl! Todd has never seen a female before, only pictures of them in other men's Noise, but he is sure that is what she must be.

Returning to the village, he tells Ben, who reacts by telling him he has to get out of town NOW. His bag has already been packed, and a map drawn...he is to head for the nearest settlement, but there isn't another settlement, is there? Not to mention that Todd can't really read, so a map isn't going to do much good. But Ben gives it to him with a notebook of his mother's, and so he takes it, flabbergasted, and goes. He is beginning to doubt things he always believed in. On his way, he encounters the girl and tries to talk to her with no success. Out of nowhere, Aaron shows up again, trying to harm the girl. Armed with Ben's knife, Todd lashes out, ready to kill him, ready to save her and himself, and escape the horror of Prentisstown...but he can't do it.

The two escape, and make their way to the next settlement, which does exist...and which is full of women AND men! More and more of his understanding of life is being tested, as it turns out the Spackle did not kill the women with their germ. So what happened to the Prentisstown women?

Todd and the girl (Viola) are still being pursued, and must follow the path to Haven in an attempt to find refuge and someone who can protect them. The men of Prentisstown are not who they have seemed all this time, and Todd can't really believe what he is being told. Their journey is full of hard choices, hard life lessons, learning to trust, and doing what is right in the face of what may be the smarter choice. Full of action, loyalty, and overcoming unbelieveable odds, along with a really cool concept: what would someone else hear in your Noise?
"There are a hundred Aarons at a hundred different places, all standing round me. There are Violas, too, frightened and looking to me for help, and Spackles with my knife sticking outta their chests and they're all talking at once, all talking to me in a roar of voices. 'Coward,' they're saying. All of 'em. 'Coward' over and over again. cowardcowardcowardcowardcowardcowardcoward
But I wouldn't be a Prentisstown boy if I couldn't ignore Noise. cowardcowardcowardcowardcowardcoward," (Ness pg. 326, 2008).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (Chaos Walking, Book 2)
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Ness, Patrick. (2008). The Knife of Never Letting Go. Sommerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

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