I’m not sure what I want to say about this book. Right after I finished it (in practically one sitting), I was like, “That was pretty darn good,” but now I’m more like, “Eh, that was all right, I guess.” I think it’s telling that I have the book right next to me while I’m writing this because I am not entirely sure I could tell you what happened in the book without looking some of it up.
But! What happens is that we’re on another planet, sometime in the future, and we’re following along with the last boy in Prentisstown, Todd Hewitt. He’s the last boy because a Noise germ wiped out the female population of the planet a while back and also made it possible for all of the men to hear each other’s thoughts, all the time, no filters, no way to stop yourself from giving up your thoughts to everyone else.
Todd is just a month away from his 13th birthday, when he will finally become a man like everyone else in Prentisstown, when he stumbles across a patch of quiet out in the swamp. A patch of quiet that moves, even. By the time he gets home, the whole town knows what he’s found, and his adoptive parents are shooing him out the door with a rucksack, map, and instructions to go back to the swamp and run.
I liked how Ness worked the idea of information overload into his story… until he made it incredibly explicit. And I was really intrigued by the backstory to Prentisstown, especially after I found out there were other towns on the planet and that Todd clearly didn’t know anything about the reality of Prentisstown, but the reveals came way too late in the story, especially the one from Todd himself which should have made, I think, at least one of his actions a lot different. And the whole last fight/battle/argument/something scene between Todd and the church leader made approximately zero sense to me, probably mostly because just reading the descriptions of the fighting was taking up all of my attention. Finally, I was so close to loving the ending, which was so close to being ambiguous and enticing me to read the sequel, but then someone showed up and ruined it all for me.
So I guess, in the end, I only just liked this book. It was certainly entertaining, and it had a good premise to it, but I was just not a fan of Ness’s execution of said premise. As with The Hunger Games, I think I’m going to wait for a few more reviews of the sequel before I decide if it’s worth my time.
Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.