What started out as a promising novel ended up being a tedious and poorly executed story. I really wanted to like this book, because the concept of being able to hear everyone's thoughts and they yours, is such a great premise. Also, reading a male POV is always interesting.
I really liked Patrick Ness's writing style, the word choices and composition and such, which reminded me a little of Markus Zusak's contemporary young adult books. The first few chapters were amazing, when Ness was explaining about Noise.
“Men lie, and they lie to theirselves worst of all.”
“My name is Todd Hewitt...It’s a trick Ben taught me to help settle my Noise. You close yer eyes and as clearly and calmly as you can you tell yerself who you are, cuz that’s what gets lost in all that Noise.”
“The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.”
Those are just a few of the really great lines here. Men's thoughts are chaotic, unorganized, and I could see very well how Noise affects Todd's and everybody else's lives. With all that Noise, how do you not lie to yourself?
You can see why this book was so promising in the beginning.
So here we go, Todd Hewitt is 12 years old and 12 months old, and he will be 13 in the 13th month. When a boy turns 13, he undergoes this mysterious ritual and become a man. That's how it is in Prentisstown, a town in an alien planet, where earthlings fled to escape the chaos of Earth and start anew. Also, in Prentisstown, there are no women.
Like I said, very promising.****BUT (and spoilers and profanity ahead)****
There's always a but. I didn't like the running around and getting away from the evil people chasing them bits, which comprised like two-thirds of the book. First we find out that what Todd knows is bull and he should run away now. From the very first, Todd is told that he should forget everything he knew about Prentisstown and the history behind it
, but does he do it? No. From the start, Todd knew what the boys did to become a "man" but we readers are still left in the dark. However, this doesn't seem to affect Todd in any way. He outright denies this truth, which I thought stupid. It could also be attributed to the fact that he's running for his life. But whatever, I didn't like it.
Also, from the start, Todd is given his mother's diary, which does contain the Truth but isn't given much importance throughout the story except maybe towards the ending, and I think this is where I felt disconnected from the characters
. The running away was given more importance than the diary, which potentially can reveal a lot of things, which could help them fight back the evil men of Prentisstown. I understand Todd doesn't know how to read, and his pride makes him reluctant to even try to decipher what he needs to read. But he's met this girl who can
read it, but, no. The evil men of Prentisstown are on their backs, and "there's no time to read the diary." Like bull. The withholding of the truth became aggravating, instead of heightening the suspense for me.The men of Prentisstown comprise like maybe a hundred men
, maybe half of that are 15-year old boys, and they organize this army to...what? It's still unclear to me how they could take over the entire planet when they're so few. And how the hell did they cross the wide river or swamp of whatever so quicklywhen the only bridge from Prentisstown to the other towns was burned down
Like W.T.A.F. I immediately could not believe that the rumors of a thousand-man army was approaching, because it seemed improbable. (Which later we found out as an outright lie and just a rumor to spread fear). There just was no logic behind their motives and they're just two-dimensionally evil, that I didn't care about the conflict in this book at all.
But Todd and Viola just kept on running. There wasn't even an interesting bit of Todd showing off his hunting skills and wilderness survival skills because they almost always bump into other people and villages who help them, but they eventually need to leave "ASAP" because they're being chased.
Run, run, run, that's all they did. I grew impatient with it.And what was up with the preacher Aaron
. I swear he only survived because the author wrote him that way. Like W.T.A.F. who survives a crocodile attack, huh?
He's mad, I get it, but how the hell did he keep up with Todd and Viola. And why was it so necessary for Todd to be able to kill another man? Was this supposed to accentuate that murder is evil? What was really the point of this book? That Todd stay true tom himself, stay pure, by refraining from killing another being? That's why it's titled "The Knife of Letting Go", wasn't it? Because it really kind of focused on the knife. If Todd murders someone, he falls.
But that's just it, Todd has killed someone. An innocent Spackle, a native of the planet they landed on, and Todd kills this alien because he was raised to believe that Spackle were the cause of the war, way way back. Remember when Todd was told to disregard everything he's been taught about Prentisstown? Does this not fit exactly that warning?
But Todd kills the alien anyway, for the simple motivation of...killing...and proving himself...and God, he deliberately disobeyed the advice given to him, and this scene just was senseless.
I cannot even begin to comprehend that WTAF-ness of Aaron's explanation. It was mad, but just stupid mad
, not even evil genius mad. Mayor Prentiss is stupid evil, this whole hating women because men can't their thoughts but women can read men's thoughts was stupid. Killing off the women was ludicrous, killing off the dog was enraging.
There were times when I could care about Todd, but most of the time I just wanted to slap him. And because I could not care about the story when all they did was run and hide in villages and run again, I could not care how Viola and Todd created a special bond between them. Also, I think the explanation for the whole Noise thing was disappointing.
So when they arrived in the planet, it just happened
. Men were able to read each other's thoughts, but they couldn't read women's thoughts. But women can read the men's thoughts. That seemed so illogical to me. How women able to hide their thoughts? Is it a genetic mutation thing? The Noise only affects the XY chromosome? And this is shelved as Sci-Fi? There was nothing logical in the world-building!In the end I just could not care for the story.
*2 stars* Because the writing was good, but the story was not.