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

by Patrick Ness

Published by U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2008
479 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3931-0

Age 12 and older

Twelve-year-old Todd is the last boy left in Prentisstown. Germ warfare between the settlers who founded Todd's community and the native inhabitants of the planet led to the death of all women and girls when Todd was still a baby. The men who survived were left with Noise--the audible thoughts of every nearby living being, both human and animal. Noise can't be shut out, and the chaos can be overwhelming. But in the woods one day, Todd senses a blank space, an absence of Noise. Todd's two guardians have an unexpected response: They produce a backpack full of supplies and tell Todd he must run away: His life is in danger if he does not flee. On the run, Todd meets Preacher, the Prentisstown minister, and discovers the source of the mysterious "silence"--an orphaned girl about his age whose thoughts he cannot hear, and whom Preacher seems intent on harming. Todd's fate and the fate of the girl are soon inextricably linked--at first by circumstance and soon by choice--in Patrick Ness's taut and harrowing survival story. Ness explores the worst and best of human nature, from the corruption of power and religious fanaticism to compassion, understanding, tolerance, and friendship. At the story's core is a fierce and tender boy trying to make sense of the present and past in a world where nothing he once thought true can be trusted, and the spirited girl and devoted dog who journey with him into the unknown. Readers will be stunned by the many twists, turns, and revelations Ness offers, one of which comes on the final page in this first volume of the "Chaos Walking" trilogy.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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