The Knife Of Never Letting Go

Ness, P. (2008). The knife of never letting go. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press

Patrick Ness begins this three-book series with the story of Todd.  Todd lives in Prentisstown, a place inhabited completely by men. Prentisstown has infected all men with a germ called Noise, which allows every thought to be heard... even an animal's thoughts (Todd can hear what his dog, Manchee thinks).  Todd ventures away from home from time and time, and on one outing, he notices that there is mental silence.  When he tells his dads about this (he has two), they advise him to go away before anyone finds out that he has experienced not hearing anyone's thoughts and to avoid an imminent war.  On his way to safety, Todd finds a girl named Viola.  He's taken aback by her because he's never seen a girl before, nor does he understand why he can't hear her thoughts the way he does everyone else's in Prentisstown. Viola is the lone survivor of a wrecked space ship. Todd also learns that the germ that causes Noise also killed off all the woman in his world.  As Todd and Viola make for safety, a man named Aaron follows them, and the only way to lose him is to sacrifice Manchee, Todd's dog. They reach their destination, only to find out that their battle for survival has just begun.

This book was incredibly interesting to me. I don't read much science fiction, but I truly enjoyed analyzing the character dynamic.  What fascinated me the most was how Ness explored the idea of a world without women. At first, I associated this social structure to the Spartan way of life, where men took boys under their wing in a type of tutelage; however, this wasn't the case.  Everything functions as a regular society, making me wonder how the author views the idea of gender roles when he uses a thirteen-year-old boy and girl on a quest for safety. This is an excellent read for not only an English class, but also a government class.

Ness also has a series of short stories that accompanies these three novels. The short stories are meant to be read between each novel.

Requirement: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
All book cover images found on