Tuesday, January 18, 2011
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
"The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking."
Long ago, settlers came to a new planet. They sought out safety and home. The planet was already inhabited by creatures called the Spackle. The Spackle didn't want the people there, so they fought back. They fought back with the germ. First, the germ caused the Noise. Now, every man can hear every other man's thoughts. Not only that, every man can hear every animal's thoughts. Second, the germ killed every woman. In the end, the Spackle were obliterated, but Prentisstown was the only settlement left. It is a town of 146 men and one boy. That boy is Todd Hewitt.
Todd is 30 days away from his 13th birthday, the day when he becomes a man. Until then, the other men exclude him. Todd spends most of his time with his guardians Ben and Cillian and his dog Manchee. One day, Dug and Manchee are looking for swamp apples on the outskirts of town when they come across something surprising: silence, something difficult to come by when you hear the thoughts of every man and beast.
Todd doesn't know what the silence is or what it means, but it's enough for Ben and Cillian to send him off in search of Haven, one of the settlements that no longer exists. It's enough for them to tell him that everything he knows about the history of Prentisstown is a lie. It's enough for Mayor Prentiss and his men to chase him. Imagine that, being chased by someone who can read your mind.
I'm honestly having difficulty writing this review because the book is incredibly awesome and I want to convey that to my reading public. There's exciting chase scenes, action scenes that had me actually crying out loud, and some brutally heartbreaking scenes. Manchee was my favorite, mostly because he reminds me of Dug from Up, though with less "I hid under your porch because I love you" and more poop obsession. It's a pretty realistic interpretation, as realistic as interpretations of talking dogs get anyways. I love how Todd goes from resenting him to loving him throughout the book, it warms my heart.
In the About the Author page, Patrick Ness says that The Knife of Letting Go is about learning to stay yourself when society is trying to change you. Todd is a lot of things, among them proud, angry, bad with grammar and spelling. The men from Presntisstown want him to be just like them, cold and ruthless. Settlers along the way think he's already like them just because of where he's from. From the beginning, Ben taught him to settle his noise by telling himself who he was, "I'm Todd Hewitt." Todd is fairly self assured given his young age and horrible upbringing. Despite the bleak note that the book ends on, I believe that there's still hope that Todd will prevail and I am definitely looking forward to the next books in the trilogy.
"And I think how hope may be the thing that pulls you forward, may be the thing that keeps you going, but that it's dangerous, too, that it's painful and risky, that it's making a dare to the world and when has the world ever let us win a dare?"