Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go

Originally published on February 9, 2012.

The Chaos Walking trilogy was strongly recommended to me by my friend Katie. She reads WAY more than I do, almost exclusively young adult lit, and she is also an English-teacher-turned-school-librarian. She has an awesome blog called YA Book Love where you can find reviews for tons of fantastic books--it's one of my go-to sources when selecting a new read. So when she said that I HAD to read these books, I rushed right out to my local library and got the first one.

I initially had a bit of a hard time getting into The Knife of Never Letting Go, largely due to the writing style, which is pretty much stream of consciousness. But that same writing style, once I got used to it, allowed the last 200 pages (of 479) to just FLY, as I carried the book around the house with me, using every free second to read.

The story centers around Todd, a 12-year-old boy on New World (which would make him 14 on our Old World, as the months run differently on New World). He introduces us to his world, which the original settlers envisioned as an "Eden," but turned out to be rather more sinister. According to the history that Todd has been taught all his life, the planet's original settlers got into a war with the Spackle (the natives of the planet) shortly after settling. The Spackle released germ warfare, which killed all the women and many of the men. So now Todd's settlement, Prentisstown, is the only one left on the planet, and it is inhabited by about 50 men and Todd, the last boy (boys become men at 13). Without any women, clearly they are a dying race.

Another germ released by the Spackle created the Noise. With the Noise, no one can ever be silent. Every man can hear every thought of every other man. They can even hear the thoughts of animals. It's all chaos and clamor, all the time. For Todd, this is the only way of life he has ever known--men's thoughts laid bare, unable to hide. But for the adult settlers who remember the Old World, it's enough to make anyone crazy.

And then, while gathering apples in the swamp outside the village, Todd discovers a mysterious patch of silence. And from there, everything that he ever thought he knew begins to unravel.

Todd and his loyal dog Manchee (who is everything that a dog and sidekick should be) set off in a harrowing race across New World, running from certain destruction, and toward a tenuous hope.

The end of the book is a gigantic cliffhanger, clearly designed to send the reader running back to the library to pick up the second book, The Ask and the Answer... which I will be doing today. Looking forward to the rest of the trilogy, especially since Katie says the third book is the best!

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