Part one of Ness’s “Chaos Walking” trilogy, “The Knife of Never Letting Go” is gripping literally from the first line. It might go up there as one of my all time favourite first lines along with “The Crow Road” (google it, it’s brilliant.) It only gets better from there, with the pace consistently exciting and Todd’s colloquial, almost stream-of-consciousness narrative giving a natural and very readable tone to the story. It’s not too grown up to realistically portray a teenage boy’s thoughts but it’s also not too immature that it’s beyond obnoxious; there’s just the right amount of slang (to show evidence of Todd’s literacy troubles, which are handled well.) I particularly loved how Todd saw everyone else’s Noise – the different font changes to match each person, the change in font size to show distance and the sheer genius that was the Noise of Todd’s dog Manchee, they all worked fantastically to show the constant chaos of being able to hear everyone’s thought at once. It’s a very effective technique. I thoroughly enjoyed Todd’s character. I understood his frustrations and I wanted him to succeed.Violence pretty much goes hand in hand with dystopia and this book is no exception. Ness is particularly unflinching in his portrayal of violence. Like the rest of the novel, it’s an extremely unsentimental affair. The New World that Todd is a part of is full of complex ideas but not so much that a younger reader won’t understand them. While I was a little worried about how this society viewed women, it worked well within the context of the story and presented an interesting contrast between Todd, automatically considered more worthy than a woman in this society, and Viola, the more worldly and educated of the two. It also presents an interesting and subtle debate on science versus religion. Although the religious element is also what stops me from giving the book 5 stars. The main villain of the piece, the wild minded possibly psychopathic preacher Aaron, is far too one dimensional for this story. He was suitably scary, don’t get me wrong, but it felt like taking the easy way out. The ending, a massive cliff hanger, sort of makes up for him but it still disappointed me enough to stop this getting the full 5 stars.But believe me, I whole heartedly recommend this book. I am dying to get my hands on the other two books and I hope you all go out and do the same. “The Knife of Never Letting Go” is why I read YA. It’s bold, unflinching, gripping, tense, original, intriguing and a whole other bunch of buzz words that don’t do it justice. I read this book in two sittings and still begged for more.