Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: Walker Books
Summary: 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?
I had heard a lot of good things about this book so I started reading it and for the first fifty pages I wanted to track down every person who had ever said a good thing about this book and kill them, but I soldiered on, finished and now I will defend this book for the rest of my life. In a word: Incredible.
The book is told from the point of view of Todd, an almost completely illiterate 12 (13 and 1 month) year old boy and so the style of writing, spelling and grammar reflect that. I know from some of the reviews I have read since finishing that a lot of people hated or gave up on this book as a result of that and, at the time, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it past the first hundred pages. I did find the first fifty extremely difficult because not much happens so the spelling and the grammar is very noticeable and jarring but when the story really starts (literally like page 51) and the spelling and the grammar ceases to be of much concern.
The pacing of this book is superb. There is a never a dull moment, never an awkward or painful lull. Even when you think the book is reaching a plot milestone where a lull is about to occur, it never does. It is constantly in motion and yet none of it feels rushed. It is just fantastic. Brilliantly paced.
The characters too are outstanding. Todd and Viola, the main characters are so well written. They both deal with trauma and they both come from very different worlds, so they are very different from each other but they come to rely on and to relate to each other. Their relationship is fantastic, one that starts out as convenience and then develops into this tentative friendship. I can’t wait to see how it develops in the rest of the books.
The secondary characters of Hildy, Tam, Ben, Cillian even Wilf too are great. They are complete individuals. No one character feels like a copy of another. Very unique, very well written. The villains too are remarkable. Aaron is without a doubt one of the scariest son of a bitches in Young Adult fiction. Ness did a fantastic job on him.
The plot of this book was great too. I’m usually not a big fan of ‘journey’ books but Ness wrote it really well and and really converted me to it. This book was really just great and I would recommend it to everyone!
Spoilers: One warning though: There is a lot of death in this book and one death haunts me more than others. Manchee. I was not okay. Please be advised: the dog dies. Prepare yourself for the most emotionally traumatising animal death since Hedwig. You have been warned.