June 2013 Book of the Month Review

I’ve been pretty critical in the last two books of the month, so this month I decided to pick a book about which I can only gush. I give you THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO by Patrick Ness.

Author website: http://www.patrickness.com/

 

Official book blurb:

Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown.

But Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in a constant, overwhelming, never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets.

Or are there?

Just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd unexpectedly stumbles upon a spot of complete silence.

Which is impossible.

Prentisstown has been lying to him.

And now he’s going to have to run…

This book blurs the lines between sci-fi and paranormal, so I guess I’m cheating a bit… but I had to share this book with you, BTC. All I can say is thank goodness the whole trilogy was already published when I picked it up, and thank goodness I was home with the flu, because it consumed me completely. Todd lives in a settlement on the New World, and his town consists of only a few men and zero females. They were all killed in the war with the Spackle, the indigenous people on the planet, when they released a Noise germ that allows everyone to hear every single thought of everything that breathes.

Yes, everything. Every single thought and image in every man’s head is Noise enough, but every animal’s thoughts are audible. Sheep, for example, think, “Sheep. Sheep. Sheep!” a lot. And Todd’s dog Manchee… well, he is the best character in the novel.

I am a grammar nerd. I have the grammar sickness to such an extent I have been known to mark up my husband’s grocery lists. Todd is barely educated and cannot read; all books were burned long ago. So the author writes his first-person narrative in creative grammar and phonetic spelling. It bugged the hell out of me for the first chapter or so. Then I was so sucked in, I didn’t care anymore.

This book had a moment—I won’t spoil it for you—that made me sob. Not tear up, not cry a little in a quiet way, but SOB. Friends, I don’t cry easily.

I will admit one of the most prominent villains was somewhat over the top. But he’s explained well enough that I can rationalize the lengths to which he went. Another villain is delicious because you are never quite sure what to think of him. That’s my favorite kind of character.

Another con is that the inciting incident feels a bit forced. But I was willing to forgive because I was hooked and wanted to see what happened next.

This book, and in fact the entire series, is rich, deep, dark, and oh so haunting. Ness addresses the quandaries of colonization, group mentality, war, racism, and loyalty. The ethics are difficult, especially as the series continues. His characters can be unlikeable sometimes, but they are REAL and flawed and rounded and life-sized. Sometimes bordering on sentimentality, the book almost makes you hold your breath until the end. It was packed with action from the first moment until the last, and you’d better have the next book handy because it ends with a cliffhanger that made a lot of readers extremely angry. Ness took me in and didn’t let me go.

This review was written by Jessie Peacock – Visit her author page on Facebook. 

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