Ness, P. (2008). The knife of never letting go. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press.
Todd Hewett is one month away from turning 13 which makes him a man in Prentice Town. Prentice town is loud with everyone’s thoughts flying freely through the air loud enough for anyone to listen. Because of this, there are no secrets just like there are no women. The “noise” as it is called, is a disease that was given to these settlers of the new world from the Sapcs. The noise is what is said to have killed all of the women and girls. According to Todd, it drove them crazy. Todd’s mother was no exception, she passed away shortly after he was born. Soon to follow was his father. Two good friends of the family, Ben and Killien, took Todd in as their own and raised him. After the leaders of the town catch Todd out near the swamp, they realize that he has heard silence. Ben and Killien quickly gather things they have kept hidden for Todd’s entire life including a book which was written by Todd’s mother. Inside the book Ben put a map and he and Killien gave Todd instructions to do his best to follow the map. Todd reluctantly left with his dog, a small amount of food, first aide, the book and map, and a knife. With the help of the girl, she and Todd cross a large, rope bridge across the river. Using tools that Todd has never seen before the girl burns the bridge when Todd is unable to cut through the coated cables so that the town leaders are unable to follow. Viola finally speaks and shares her name with Todd. After a very long, exhausting trip the two new friends find New Haven, however, the two of them are not in the best of conditions.
Commentary and Text Connections:
The emotional, physical, and intellectual drama is well crafted and relentless. Todd, who narrates in a vulnerable and stylized voice, is a sympathetic character who nevertheless makes a few wrenching mistakes. Manchee and Aaron, a zealot preacher, function both as characters and as symbols. The cliffhanger ending is unexpected and unsatisfying, but the book is still a pleasure for sophisticated readers comfortable with the length and the bleak, literary tone. Although this story doesn’t have the happiest of endings, the journey to finding hope and a new world is a great reading experience. Students who enjoy this fantasy novel should try reading The Hunger Games, Divergent or the Giver next.