Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 359
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness is a dystopian, young adult novel published in 2008 and is the first book of the Chaos Walking Trilogy. The novel follows Todd Hewitt as he goes on the run shortly before his thirteenth birthday, the age when he will be considered a man.
Todd lives in Prentisstown, a small colony on "New World." New World is an alien planet that humans have recently populated. Only men live in Prentisstown, and they are told that all the women who used to live there were killed in a war with the native alien species, the Spackle. Each man on New World has the "Noise germ," which causes them to emit colors, images, memories, and sounds from their body involuntarily. The Prentisstown colony engaged in the war with the Spackle around the time that Todd was born, so he has never seen a woman.
One day, while walking with his dog Manchee, Todd finds a spot in the swamps that is "silent" (i.e. absent of the Noise). Previously, Todd had never experienced silence, as every part of Prentisstown is exposed to the Noise of the men. Todd runs home to tell his guardians, Ben and Cillian, who quickly push him out the door and tell him to run. Ben and Cillian have been planning Todd's escape for years but decide to send him away early when he finds the silence in the swamps.
Todd begins a journey for his life as he runs from Aaron and other men from Prentisstown who want to kill him and find the source of the silence. Todd discovers that the source of the silence is a girl, Viola, shortly after leaving town. He learns that women are immune to the Noise germ, and he takes Viola with him so they can both stay alive.
Todd and Viola have various run-ins with Aaron, Davy Printess Jr., and Mayor Printess. Mayor Printess is on a mission to overtake New World and declares himself president after the another colony surrenders without fighting him. Todd succumbs to Mayor Printess in order to save Viola at the end of the novel.