The last time I read a book that made me cry, well, I never said I wanted to read a book that would make me cry, did I, what I said was I wanted to read a book about a place where everyone can hear what other people think and so you never have time alone, everyone knows everything about you, and you can hear what animals think (and what dogs have to say isn’t very interesting, they want to poo and eat all the time).
I guess in some ways, what I wanted was what I got, cuz The Knife of Never Letting Go is about a place called Prentisstown where there aren’t any women, the whole populashun is made up of men, and they can all hear each other’s thoughts in a loud jangly Noise that crawls across the book’s pages in funny fonts that I’d try to show you if I knew how. There are only 147 people in Prentisstown and they’re all waiting for some reason for young Todd Hewitt, the last of the kids, to become a man.
Cuz there’s a secret hiding, even in the Noise of the town, that Todd knows is dangerous cuz one day Ben and Cillian, the only family he knows, tell him to get out of Prentisstown and Todd’s shocked, he hadn’t even known there was anywhere else but Prentisstown in the world, and so off he goes with his dog Manchee (‘Poo, Todd. Poo. Poo’).
But being able to hear other people’s thoughts is just a type of power, and we all know that where there’s power there’s someone who wants all of it, so before long the people of Prentisstown are searching for him, searching through all of a world we find out is just a new version of the one we know, and there’s preshus few places to hide when people know what your thoughts sounds like, have heard them every day of your life since you were born.
I love this book. I love the way the writer uses the Noise to show the best and worst parts of everybody, from the keening love of a child whose Noise just says daddy daddy daddy to the clamour of the Noise of hundreds of men drowning in sorrow and regret and confushun and remorse, and best of all I love the heartbreaking and thoughtless loyalty of Manchee and I love the way secrets become so powerfully difficult in Noise and yet The Knife of Never Letting Go is about hope, it’s about how tho’ we as individuals and as humanity have made mistakes how it’s worth every terrible fight to fix them.
And then there’s the cliffhanger, which is something else.