The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking Book 1)
To write a book review with more than what the back cover's summary provides would be to rob you of some truly shocking surprises. Suffice it to say that Todd, the story's protagonist, finds the facts of the world around him slowly unraveling, as new truths weave their way into his understanding. In a world where everyone's thoughts are laid bare for all to hear (and see), there are no secrets. It's with this basic certainty that the discovery of a patch of silence is the catalyst that propels Todd and his faithful dog Manchee into this new world where the rules don't necessarily apply anymore.
"Todd and his faithful dog Manchee" is a phrase that might have turned me away from a book in years prior, but that's not the case here. In fact, every single character is so well-developed that even this relationship is grounded, and Manchee is just as crucial to the story as any of his human counterparts. I often find that characters develop too quickly or not at all, and Todd is definitely an exception to this. His development is believable. When your world gets turned around, there is no sudden epiphany that makes everything better. No. You struggle with it. You fight against it. When you accept it, it's only a tacit acceptance that you might eventually struggle against again. This is the case with Todd, and every other character.
Be warned: the language could be an issue. Ness writes Todd's dialogue to mirror how he sounds. And Todd is illiterate, so you can only imagine; but please allow yourself to get past this. Even this decision plays into the larger themes of the novel and, eventually, the trilogy. There's also a few violent scenes that might be too much for some readers. Barring this, I highly recommend The Knife of Never Letting Go.
NOTE: Recommended for mature readers only.