Want personalized picks that fit your family?
Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.
The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, Book 1)
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a fantasy book, but it does feature some gruesome violence -- horrible injuries are described graphically, and there is a shocking level of brutality, especially of men toward boys, women, and animals. One climactic fight involves the breaking of bones, snapping of gristle, crushing of eyeballs, and lots of blood. Not for the faint-hearted or sensitive.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Todd has grown up in a village of men, believing that everyone else in the world, including all the women, was wiped out in a biological war with the original alien inhabitants of this planet. The world is filled with Noise, as the thoughts of all, human and animal, are constantly broadcast to all. Now, about to reach the age of manhood at 13, he discovers that nearly everything he has been told about his world is a lie. Forced to flee with his talking dog and a girl who has crash landed nearby, he is pursued by an army bent on conquest, and an insane preacher bent on murder.
Is it any good?
Don't even think of reading this book if you don't like being left at a cliffhanger -- the one here is a doozy.
In the course of this lengthy, complex, suspenseful, and emotional novel, the first in a proposed series called Chaos Walking, the author raises many issues for discussion, among them gender roles and relations, the place of killing in our society, religion, utopianism, what growing up really means, and (in an allegorical way) the cost of our information-saturated culture. He also includes possibly the best talking-dog character in all of literature, a dog who talks just exactly the way you'd imagine a dog would, to endearing and devastating effect.
Up until the cliffhanger, the suspense has ratcheted up and up, as has the graphic violence -- if they make a movie version of this, it will surely earn an R rating. Though too violent for younger readers, for mature teens this is a first-rate, thought-provoking, fast-moving thriller.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence here. Does the fantasy setting make it easier to handle?
This is a pretty dark description of a future world. Can you think of other books or movies in which the future is depicted? What is appealing about these stories? Why are these depictions often so disturbing?
For kids who love fantasy books
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.