Book review: The Knife of Never Letting Go

Another from my Mount TBR challenge! I got The Knife of Never Letting Go in the Kindle sale last Christmas. It’s the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. Synopsis:

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

I really cannot recommend this book highly enough. I’m almost reluctant to write this review as I don’t want to give too much of the plot away: it’s so carefully constructed, with so many shocking moments that you really need to experience as Todd does to feel the full force of it.

Todd is a fantastic character. I really didn’t like him at the start of the book, he comes across as angry and aggressive, but through the course of the book he really develops as a character. It’s one of those wonderful character arcs that feels so natural you don’t really notice it happening – only by stopping and comparing the Todd at the end fo the book with the Todd at the start did it really hit me what a different character he’d become.

I also absolutely loved Todd’s dog, Manchee, despite starting the book rolling my eyes at the thought of a talking dog as one of the main characters! Manchee won me over pretty quickly though, partly because his dialogue is so, well, dog-like. His Noise does sound exactly the way you’d imagine a dog would sound if you could hear their thoughts. His personality was wonderfully apt too: a bit dim, cheerful, easily distracted but loyal and tenacious when needed – that should all sound fairly familiar to any dog owners!

Writing about the talking dog like that might make this sound like a bit of a silly read. It isn’t. It’s dark, and scary in the way that the best YA books can be, and frequently, shockingly violent. It also ends on a proper cliffhanger – I’m determined to complete my Mount TBR challenge before the end of the year, so I can’t read the next two yet, but I certainly will do as soon as my self-imposed book-buying ban is over!

Without saying too much more about the plot, all I can say is: read this. Read it if you want a tightly-plotted, fast-paced thriller (I read it in a day because I couldn’t put it down!) that also has intelligent things to say about conformity and masculinity, loyalty and betrayal.

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  1. The Knife of Never Letting Go | Off The Wall

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