Readalong with Steph: Chaos Walking #1 “The Knife of Never Letting Go”


Let’s kick this readalong off!

Revisiting a beloved series is one of those bookish delights that I often don’t have enough time for. This series has stayed with me since I first cracked the page, it is both devastating and inspiring, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as me :)

Since I’m a little late we will start now in week 2 of May with part 1 & 2 The Knife of Never Letting Go. 

Week 3: Parts 3 & 4

Week 4: Parts 5 & 6

We’ll take it as it goes–if we need more time, we can always push book 2 a week :)


Let’s start in the comments by discussing just how hard it is for you to plough through Todd’s dialect! I promise it gets way easier as the story progresses, but it’s a good place to start… literally.

5 responses to “Readalong with Steph: Chaos Walking #1 “The Knife of Never Letting Go”

  1. Hi all!

    The first time that I read Knife I think I was immediately thrown off by how Todd’s POV works, but I was very quickly sucked in. The second time I delved into the stories I felt like I was returning to a favourite vacation spot–this strange thoughtspeech is a very interesting way to tell a story, to foreshadow and to get into the minds of other characters (or not) and get to know those other characters that way.

    How do you all like Manchee? I have thoughts, but I’d like to hear yours first.

    Any predictions?

  2. ooooh! I didn’t know you were doing this, but I *just* read Knife for the first time.

    Getting through Todd’s dialect wasn’t too hard (I’m from the American South….), but it took a really, really long time to understand the world. A lot of authors focus on world-building right away, so it was a nice but disorienting change.

    No spoilers, but I think Ness does some particularly interesting things with Todd’s thoughtspeech as the book progresses and I found myself pretty quickly comfortable with it.

    I like Manchee. :) His thoughtvoice leans to the Up (disney movie) side of dog thought, but it’s still cute. The skeptical reader side of me sees him as just a plot device, but the gracious side of me remembers that literally everything in a book is a device of some sort.

  3. I didn’t find Todd’s voice hard to get into, but maybe because I’ve read stories with young backwoods boys as the protagonists, and their voices were often highly colloquial in terms of language and sentence structure, although I think Todd wins the (almost) stream-of-conscious award. Didn’t Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings do something similar with phoenetic spelling in The Yearling?

    Really enjoying this reread. I’d forgotten so much!

    • Interesting.
      When booktalking Knife I always ran into the dialect issue–I mean, many people would take a look at page one and say, “No way!”
      Hear that folks? Don’t be daunted! The story is worth it :)

      I love Manchee! Every time I reread this series I fall back in love with him <3
      One of my fav quotes: "The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say." (1)

      In my thesis I compared Manchee, an innocent natural figure, to Todd as the "boy pup" as he is constantly called–at once a human and a baby animal. This, I think, is what distinguishes Todd from the others in Prentisstown. He has that natural innocence that we find in all the natural creature's thoughtspeak, and a natural innocence we might have found in the Spackle before Prentiss came to town.

  4. I dropped the ball on this! Is it still happening? I’ll write my thoughts out anyway. :-)

    It was actually pretty easy to get into Todd’s perspective once I really sat down and read a good chunk of the book. Ness writes Todd’s thoughts with a very particular rhythm, and it definitely made me think of reading Huck Finn in that once I got into the writing, the pages just went by without me realizing it.

    I agree with what klyse3 said about Manchee being a device — I’m sure he is, but at the same time, I can’t help but love him. I’ve always loved animal sidekicks, but I’ve never read a dystopian novel with one, so I’m interested to see what Manchee’s fate will be. In other books/films, I think the animals are definitely a sign of the protagonist’s purity and innocence (as Stephie mentioned), but this, unlike Cinderella, is a coming-of-age tale. I wonder if that means something will have to happen to Manchee in order for Todd to truly “become a man”? I hope not, but the pessimist in me says not to get attached to Manchee.

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