On Todd’s planet, there is Noise, and nothing but Noise. Infected by the Noise germ since birth, he and all the other males around him are subjected to the unending bedlam of each other’s thoughts. The same virus that caused this mental chaos proved fatal to women, leaving Todd without a mother in a violent village of men, some teetering on the brink of insanity due to the constant Noise. As Todd nears his thirteenth birthday and the secret ceremony that will usher him into their mysterious adult world, he comes across a pocket of blessed silence in the swamps near his home. Astonished, he tries to uncover the meaning of this unnatural quiet. But as Todd delves deeper into the silence, he realizes that its presence heralds a terrible danger to himself and everyone he holds dear. So he embarks on an arduous quest to find the source of the silence, constantly hounded by enemies that can hear his every thought, only to discover that everything he knows about his own origin is a lie. Armed with only a knife and aided by loyal Manchee, the sweetest, stupidest dog known to man (“The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything.”), Todd finally becomes a man when he faces down both an army and his single greatest fear. Though this intense and monstrously entertaining novel is just shy of 500 pages, it flies by at rocket speed. With an excellent sense of pacing and action, author Patrick Ness uses short, cliff-hanging chapters to slowly reveal the ugly truth that forms the basis of Todd’s world. Exquisite world building and well-rendered characterizations round out this stellar sci-fi offering. My only gripe? The abrupt ending, which left Todd in peril and several plot questions still unanswered. Luckily, this is only the first book in a trilogy, but oh, what sweet agony waiting for the next one! Though Knife is available now, you might want to wait until you have Book 2 in hand before starting down the path with Todd and sweetly muddled Manchee.