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Ever wish you could hear what other people are thinking? In Patrick Ness'' curiously titled, award-winning novel, The Knife of Never Letting Go , your wish is granted--but be careful what you wish for. Protagonist Todd Hewitt can hear the thoughts of every living creature around him, and all he wishes is that it would stop. He is the last remaining child in Prentisstown, a small town formed by colonists from Earth, sent to populate an alien planet. Life hasn''t been easy for the colonists: cut off from all communication with Earth, they were forced to fend for themselves as the native Spackles unleashed germ warfare upon them. First, the Noise germ made everyone''s thoughts audible to everyone else--then, it killed all the women. A bloody war resulted and in its wake, all that remains is a rag-tag band of men, including a violently zealous priest, a power-crazed mayor, and little more than one hundred other citizens who find the Noise and isolation slowly pushing them into despair and insanity.
Only months away from his 13th birthday and his initiation into manhood, Todd is wandering around the swamp, the only place he can find relief from the unrelenting and often terrifying Noise of the townspeople. Content to listen to the brainless Noise of the swamp wildlife and his faithful but dim-witted dog Manchee, Todd suddenly finds something he''s never encountered before: silence. Deep in the swamp, he''s found a pocket of no Noise. Todd rushes back to the farm where his adoptive parents, Ben and Cillian, live. Todd''s Noise reveals his discovery not only to Ben and Cillian, but to the entire town, with consequences he couldn''t have imagined. Ben and Cillian become frantic, forcing nonsensical instructions and a rucksack of supplies and his mother''s diary into his hands, as they insist he leave town immediately. Bewildered, but ultimately convinced by the armed mob that forms outside his house in search of him, Todd runs back to the swamp. There, he finds the cause of the silence: a girl .
Todd was only an infant when the Noise germ devastated the colonists and made him an orphan. He has never seen a girl in his life, and is now more confused than ever. But since the townspeople seem more willing to shoot him than answer his questions, he takes the girl and heads for the river. The journey that Todd, Manchee, and the girl embark upon piles on more and more questions, as evidence mounts that everything Todd has been told is a lie. What exactly has been hiding in the dark, maniacal Noise from Prentisstown? Is Todd doomed to lead destruction everywhere he goes, or is there somewhere safe for his makeshift family of vagabonds?
The first in the Chaos Walking series, The Knife of Never Letting Go is a riveting, coming-of-age tale of a young man forced to flee everything he has ever known, for reasons no one can explain, and defend himself and an enigmatic stranger against a town that has inexplicably turned against them. Readers will sympathize with Todd''s frustration at being forced into unlikely and unwanted heroics, his search for the truth, and his growing bonds with Manchee and the girl. But don''t be distracted by the relatable Todd, the lovable Manchee, or the compelling mystery girl. The plot twists, the suspense, and the answers that make you ask ten more questions are what will keep you up late at night, reading under your covers with a flashlight.