The Knife of Never Letting Go: Chaos Walking: Book One

The Knife of Never Letting Go  - Patrick Ness A few things to preface in this review before I share my thoughts. One - I rarely rate any book a full five stars, but Patrick Ness's "The Knife of Letting Go" had me up many a late night reading past my normal sleeping hours, and the tension kept rolling within every chapter of Todd Hewitt's journey from Prentisstown into the larger New World. Two - I understand fully that there may be people who may not like this book for a multitude of reasons (flawed hero, strong dialect, unrelentingly tragic scenes and just being utterly depressing in points, cliffhanger ending, etc.), but I loved every moment of it.Todd Hewitt is a 13-year-old boy who can't wait to become a man in the small settlement of Prentisstown. He's the only one in his town that has yet to become a man by the town standards, and he's counting down the days when he'll be finally able to make something of himself. He also has to contend with being able to read the thoughts of each of the people in town at a constant streaming level (what Todd calls "Noise"). It's only when Todd's out with his dog Manchee one day that he notices something strange - an area of quiet that is distinct from all the usual noise that Todd hears in Prentisstown. When he returns home to his family, that's when the rug gets pulled from under him. Not only is Todd sent away abruptly, he's running for his life from people he thought he knew, and learning things about the larger world around him that he never thought possible (and/or were otherwise lies told to him). "Knife of Never Letting Go" is as much a sci-fi/dystopic novel as it is action, adventure, journey, thriller, and survival story all rolled into one. Todd himself is a hero with a multitude of flaws - he can't read, he's impulsive, and he sometimes makes (utterly!) insufferable decisions when you'd think he'd know better, but so much happens to this kid that I can't help but feel sorry for him. And the action in this book doesn't pull punches (dog-lovers, you will likely cry reading this novel, but I won't say anything because I don't want to spoil the experience).The language didn't bother me at all; I know there were some who probably mentioned this was a major turn off - not for me. I'm fine with the interplay of vulgar language with alternatives (some of it was for humor purposes, others the harsher language was used for emotional emphasis), and I'm also fine with the dialect, because its an intentional inclusion pertinent to the character voice.Only two things about this novel somewhat bothered me in the reading of it - the true reveal/climax of the novel is a bit into the book, so you're not really sure what's going on until it pretty much hits you on the back of the head, and while it makes sense, there are some unanswered questions that make it less than complete. And well, the cliffhanger bugged me slightly, but it was a minor quibble in the mix of things. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I would give it a high recommendation, because I think it shows quite a bit of dimension and well-roundedness about the things we think we know, but utterly do not until we step forward into the world around us. Now where this might take Todd from here on out, I can't say yet, but I'm willing to find out.Oh, and the audiobook version probably gave this book the extra edge for me. Wonderful performance by Nick Podehl.Overall score: 4.5/5