Oct 24, 2010


I thought it was really, really good.

review taken from Some Novel Ideas

The Knife of Never Letting Go is narrated by Todd Hewitt, a boy living in a town of men and Noise. A war with the planet natives left all of the women dead and spread a germ through the male population that makes every thought audible (the Noise). The town, Prentisstown, named by Mayor Prentiss after himself, is populated by mostly miserable men, with a few sadists thrown in, and the Noise makes for a chaotic overload of information that no one can escape. Todd is fairly miserable, too, since he hasn't reached manhood yet, he is ignored by most of the men, and there's no escaping the Noise, no matter where he goes.  That is until Todd and his dog, Manchee, find a hole in the Noise.  This discovery opens a Pandora's Box of secrets about Todd's world, secrets the men of Prentisstown have worked for years to lock up. With a target on his back and his every thought available to others through his Noise, Todd runs from Prentisstown with Manchee, only to be pursued by a relentless army across the landscape of his planet.
    The characters Ness creates in The Knife of Never Letting Go are vivid, sharp, terrifying, and terrified.  Todd is a frightened boy whose poignancy is as palpable as his Noise is audible, and Ness manages to make Manchee into the most truthful dog-character I've ever encountered.  The preacher/madman Aaron who hunts them is monstrous and wretched.  And Ness somehow manages to make the Noise into a sort of character itself, one which reveals and betrays without sentimentality.

    Todd's flight is also his journey into manhood, and Ness makes that odyssey at once tense and humorous, epic and human.  Through Todd, Ness poses some thoughtful questions about manhood: When does a boy become a man?  Are there rites of passage through which a boy must go in order to be considered a man?  And what are the characteristics of a man?  In addition to the questions about manhood, Ness addresses the idea of privacy and individuality.  How can one realize his individuality without the privilege of privacy? What does it mean to be an individual?  Can a person really have an individual identity in our world when we have lost so much of what was private to us?

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