Study Guide

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) Introduction

By Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) Introduction

Confession time: We have all sorts of thoughts that we keep to ourselves. Like, sometimes when we're writing about Shakespeare, our minds wander to donuts. And sometimes when we're working on proofs, we catch ourselves daydreaming about Justin Timberlake

Good thing no one can hear our thoughts then, right? You've probably had a few yourself that you're glad stay under lock and key inside your own head.

But in the first book of his Chaos Walking series, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness creates the exact opposite scenario:  

A world in which everyone can hear your thoughts all the time

Well, if you're a guy anyway. We don't want to spoil anything for you here (we happily do so later in this learning guide, however), but suffice it to say that this makes life pretty freaking interesting for Todd, the thirteen-year-old protagonist of this tale. Good luck sneaking out of the house in this world, that's for sure.

Speaking of good luck, Ness basically nailed it with this book, which he published in 2008 and was his first for young adult readers. The Knife of Never Letting Go won multiple awards, including the Booktrust Teenage Prize, Guardian Award, and James Tiptree, Jr. Award. And in case that wasn't enough, the novel also made the elite list of "books getting the movie treatment," with a film adaptation slated to his the big screen in 2019.

In Ness's case, then, sharing some of his thoughts with the world seems to have paid off big time. Which is good, because this is only the first book in the Chaos Walking series. There's a lot more chaos to be had after this one. 

So now, without further ado, let's check out the inner-workings of Todd's brain.

What is The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) About and Why Should I Care?

Have you ever realized that something you believe is just completely wrong? Maybe your mom told you the ice cream truck only plays music when it's sold out, or maybe your brother convinced you that spending five minutes each day in a head lock is good for blood flow to your brain. No matter what it is, we're willing to bet there's something you thought was true that's turned out not to be.

Otherworldly scenarios aside, this sort of upending of belief is at the heart of Todd's journey in The Knife of Never Letting Go. Raised in Prentisstown, he's grown up believing all sorts of things to be true—but once he's forced to flee, he realizes that a whole lot of what he's been told is completely false. It's a doozy, to say the least, and as he struggles to sort through what is truth and what is lies, Todd finds himself feeling pretty lost and uncertain about himself and the world around him. And the thing is, this is something we all go through to some extent as we grow up and come into our own.

So whether you've got it all figured out now, or you're just starting the process of questioning, pay attention to Todd as he makes his way in this book. If he can sort through the pack of lies he's been told, then you can do the same—and you might even pick up some tips for doing so as you read.

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) Resources


Meet Patrick Ness
Here's a link to our author's website, where you can check out his other works (and get revved up for the sequels to The Knife of Never Letting Go).

Chaos Walking Short Stories
Ness did fans of the Chaos Walking trilogy a solid and wrote a short story to accompany each installment… and then he released them for free. So click on through to download them.

The Wiki Treatment
Get ready to get your Noise nerd on at this fan-generated site of all things Chaos Walking related.

Movie or TV Productions

Of Course There's a Movie
When you have a compelling coming-of-age tale and a wildly popular trilogy, you know Hollywood just can't resist.

Meet the Director
Here's an article from The Guardian that introduces us to Charlie Kaufman, the guy directing the series of movies.

Articles and Interviews

Rave Reviews from The Guardian
The Guardian gives a review of The Knife of Never Letting Go that sings its praises and makes you want to read it (if you haven't already).

The Cuddlebuggery reviews The Knife of Never Letting Go
Here's another review from a book blogger who gives a really insightful critique of the book.

Check out this interview with Ness in which he talks writing, reading, plays, and more.


Book Trailer
For a fan-made trailer, this one's pretty well done. Nice camera skills, and even a sampling of Noise.


Cover Art…
Here's one cover treatment for The Knife of Never Letting Go.

More Cover Art…
Here's another cover treatment for the book.

One More
Last one, we promise. Which of the three is your favorite?