Ness, Patrick. 2008. The Knife Of Never Letting Go.
The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say. About anything.
This book perhaps has one of the best first lines I've encountered recently. Unfortunately, at least as I see it, it only went downhill from there. Okay, that was NOT at all fair. I'll try to explain.
Todd Hewitt is our narrator. He is a boy on the verge of becoming a man. Except that he's no ordinary boy. He's the last boy in his town of Prentisstown. And that means much more than even he realizes. Prentisstown is one of many towns in New World (a planet far, far away). But it's an isolated town. Though Todd is unaware of its history and legacy.
This is no ordinary human settlement. No, the men can hear each others thoughts. Read each others minds. Take a settlement of a hundred or so men (and boys) and you've got a LOT of noise to live with in your head. Noise that can drive a man to do crazy, crazy things.
There are no women in Prentisstown. In fact, Todd thinks there are NO women left period. That his mother was one of the last to die. He's been raised by two men, Ben and Cillian, and it's been a hard but good life for the most part. Though the last few months have been rough. As the last boy, he's had no friends. Once boys become men, they can't play around like they used to. Can't associate with mere boys anymore.
But with less than a month away from his birthday, Todd discovers a handful of things that will change his life forever. One, he discovers a pocket of silence. This may not seem like much. But to him it means everything. But this discovery rushes another shocking fact: Ben and Cillian have been keeping secrets from him. And they're ready to send him out into the unknown...on the run...in an attempt to save his life...and in an attempt to prevent him from becoming "a man" according to the town's tradition.
On his own...but not really....Todd soon discovers that that eery pocket of silence was a girl. A girl named Viola. A girl who is out of this world. Her family (mom, dad, her) landed or crashed there recently. Their ship was a scout ship, there's another colony ship on the way seven months behind the scouting vessel. But Viola's parents are dead. And Viola is on her own...until she's discovered by Todd and his dog, Manchee. Now these three are on the run, and it's a mighty fierce, never-ending chase.
The book is 479 pages of adrenaline-pumping chase. Anything and everything can happen along the way as these runaways run to survive and run to hope. It's a hard struggle between life and death. It's emotionally draining and it pushes and challenges them physically. There are so many near-death scenes it's not even funny...
But here's the thing...after 479 pages...all we get is a big "to be continued" in the middle of it all. No closure. No satisfaction. Just one lousy ending.
Reading is subjective. And despite the fact that this one has two stars going for it, (starred reviews in journals) I just didn't like this one much. If I'm going to like this one...it needs a redemptive ending...an ending that may or may not eventually happen in the second book. (I guess that depends upon if there is a third book.)
Series books can be frustrating. I would *probably* suggest you pick this one up right before the release of the second book so that you can save yourself the angst of an unsatisfying and unfinished read. I would imagine it would be enjoyable then.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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