Synopsis from Goodreads:
Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.
But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?
My Kyrosmagica review:
First comment, this is a hell of a tale. Now I can see why this is such a popular series. Right from the start I could hardly put this book down. A great YA combination of a dystopian, and a coming of age story. The main character Todd, is a twelve-year-old boy on the verge of adulthood, an “almost man.” Patrick Ness uses informal language to suggest Todd’s way of talking, using words such as ‘conversayshun’, effing, ain’t, ya, yer, etc. Todd’s voice shines throughout the story and we develop a very rounded picture of his character, and the other characters in the novel too.
In Prentisstown, you become a man at thirteen, leaving your boyhood well and truly behind. Prentisstown is a weird town, there are no women, and everyone can hear everyone’s noise, and their intrusive thoughts, due to the release of the noise germ. There is no escaping the constant clamour of noise. Ness visually creates this uproar on the printed page with black, bold, writing, thoughts spilling out onto the page. This is particularly effective, when he intersperses the word “COWARD,” throughout a passage of the story.
It is a town of lies. Who are the Spackle? Are they behind the noise germ? Why are all the women dead?
What happens when you become a man?
The Knife of Never Letting Go is a shining light of a tale! The narrative begins by introducing us to Todd, who is walking with his dog Manchee, towards the swamp. Manchee is a cute a mutt as you could ever imagine! Initially Todd doesn’t seem to think so, but this soon changes, and Todd can’t help himself from loving man’s best friend, his best friend Manchee. Manchee talks, and so do the other animals, but no one manages to be as engaging as Manchee. Certainly the sheep seem quite boring in comparison! Manchee’s short abbreviated doggy words such as: get , get Todd, poo Todd, are full of laughs, and pathos, pulling us in, making us warm to this brave dog. At the beginning of the book, Manchee is Todd’s only companion, Todd has no friends. Prentisstown is not a place for friends, especially when you are on the verge of becoming a man.
To begin with Todd is taken in by the lies that are at the heart of this strange community. His mother and father are dead, and he is looked after by Ben and Cillian, who both love him dearly but have different ways of expressing this love. Todd is shocked to find an area that the noise can’t touch, “The rip in the noise, as big and horrible as life itself.” He stumbles upon Viola. At first he fears she is a Spackle, but she is no Spackle, she is a girl. A girl is a strange phenomenon to Todd. There are no girls or women in Prentisstown. But moreover this girl has no noise. She is silent. The rip in the noise represents a tear in the system. Todd, the last of the young men on the verge of manhood will be the one to question the initiation ceremony that is at the heart of Prentissetown. Todd has to leave Prentissetown, leaving behind Ben and Cillian, and everything he has ever known. Both Todd and Viola are now alone in the world, and as they continue on their adventures to find Haven, a town that represents Hope, the two of them grow closer. To begin with she is silent, and Todd finds it difficult to connect with her, as he can’t hear her noise. But as she learns to trust him, telling him snippets of information, first her name, then details of her parents, Todd begins to understand her, and eventually he is able to sense what she is thinking. The two of them bond and join in an alliance to try to escape the bad guys. There are a host of bad guys in this novel, as you will discover. Todd struggles with his sense of moral right and wrong. The Knife symbolises this temptation, teasing him to become a man, to strike back and defend those he loves and cares for. Ness’s most disturbing antagonist in the novel is without doubt the crazy preacher man, Aaron.
Magic! I would say that Ness’s strengths lie in his ability to create wonderfully absorbing characters that carry you along on an adventure. It is almost as if you are there with Todd and Viola, suffering all that they are suffering. Ness has a wonderful ability with dialogue, with the use of short punchy sentences and hyphens to create a sense of escalating tension.
One of the characters, kept on surviving through circumstances that would have killed most mere mortals, but I think he had to be there at the end, he was central to the ending of the story, and if anyone is going to keep on and on, it had to be him. Hush. No spoilers!
Would I want to read more in this wonderful series? The answer has to be 100% yes. In light of that I am going to award this novel the highest score I have given a YA. Here goes.
Highly recommended for fans of YA, and dystopian.
Author Bio on Goodreads:
Patrick Ness, an award-winning novelist, has written for England’s Radio 4 and Sunday Telegraph and is a literary critic for The Guardian. He has written many books, including the Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Crash of Hennington, Topics About Which I Know Nothing, and A Monster Calls.
He has won numerous awards, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and the Costa Children’s Book Award. Born in Virginia, he currently lives in London.
Patrick Ness is at the YALC Literary convention 12th July. I’m going! Oh and I’ve just noticed he is also at the Edinburgh Festival on 16th August! Yippee, I may be up at that time too! More details about these events are on his website: http://www.patrickness.com/
Have you read The Knife of Never Letting Go? Do leave a comment I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
I tried this book once and didn’t make it past the first chapter. Everyone loves it so much, though. I need to try it again I think.
Sometimes, it works for you sometimes it doesn’t. You could give it another go, but don’t force yourself to read something that everyone else enjoys if you don’t. We all have the right to our own opinion. 🙂
great thoro review with style
Hi Bonnie, Thanks for your comment. Very kind. 🙂