The Knife of Never Letting Go...
...contains probably the most fabulous first line of a book I've ever read. "The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say."
Todd is a boy in a town of only men, mere weeks away from his thirteenth birthday - the day he becomes a man, according to the tradition of Prentisstown. We find him exploring a remote part of the land in order to get away from the Noise of the town - the population are on a different planet, and when they arrived, the men caught the Noise 'germ', the consequence of which is that their thoughts are as clearly audible as the words they speak.
Out in the wilderness, though, Todd discovers something strange. A hole in the noise.
When he returns home to his guardians, Ben and Cillian, they give each other one of those looks, and send Todd on his way, instructing him to run as fast and as quickly as possible. They don't tell him why, and they don't tell him why they can't tell him (this all becomes clear later).
On the other side of the swamp, Todd meets someone who he thought didn't exist any more - a girl. It's a while before we find out her name (Viola) or why she's there, but when we do the journey becomes more necessary.
Their destination is Haven, but the distance is not their only obstacle. Hot on their heels is the mayor and the men of Prentisstown, but Todd and Viola are helped by many along the way.
It's a brilliant, explosive (sometimes quite literally) start to the series, and probably my favourite of the three. Of all the characters we meet in this book, Wilf is probably my favourite, so open and guileless and deep. It's a fast-paced read but doesn't sacrifice character or world building (helped a lot by the page count). We slowly find out answers to some of the many questions posed - what happened to the women, the noise, the indigenous species (the Spackle)... but it also opens up a lot more.
A really good read for fans of dystopian fiction and good worldbuilding.