The Knife of Never Letting Go
Title: The Knife of Never Letting Go: Chaos Walking Series Book 1
Author: Patrick Ness
Number of Pages: 496 (paperback)
Advertised Age Level: grade 9 and up
Age and Grade of Main Character(s): 13+
Language: rare profanity, limited use of the “f” word
Drug/Alcohol Use: none
Violence: extreme violence, fighting, characters are wounded and/or killed
Social Issues: dystopian world, death of a parent, misogyny, dictatorship, genocide, colonialism, terrorism, torture
Suggested Movie Grade: PG-13
Premise: Todd lives on New World, in the town known as Prentisstown. There are no women where he lives. They all died when the native population on New World – the Spackle – released the Noise Germ during the Spackle War. The Noise germ killed all of the women and infected all men with the ability to hear each other’s every thought – their Noise. Todd was born into this world and knows nothing different. So when he discovers a place of true silence, he’s not sure what to think. Once he learns that this silence comes from a truly alien creature – a girl – all of the truths that Todd has always believed begin to unravel. He becomes hunted, and he and the girl – Viola – must run for their very lives for reasons that Todd doesn’t begin to understand.
Over the course of the Chaos Walking trilogy, Todd and Viola find themselves confronting adults with seemingly unlimited depths of true evil, trying to broker peace with the Spackle, who have suffered atrocities at the hands of the human invaders of their world, and all of this while trying to keep each other safe.
Potential Points of Concern:
This review applies to all three of the Chaos Walking books: The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men. The series provides a very dark depiction of colonialism, including genocide and misogyny.
Todd and Viola encounter adults who engage in genocide, the imprisonment, torture and murder of women, terrorism, and mass murder. Both Todd and Viola are beaten and tortured and very nearly killed. Viola is shot.
Todd kills a Spackle out of fear. Viola kills an evil man who has been trying to kill both Todd and Viola.
Todd’s pet is murdered.
Todd and Viola both engage in and witness the horrors of war and battle. Many key characters die or are severely injured.
The Spackle are used as slave labor and treated as animals. A group of over 1,000 unarmed Spackle are massacred.
Todd is subject to brainwashing and suffers Stockholm syndrome.
Age Appropriateness: 13 +