Thursday, October 28, 2010
The Knife of Never Letting Go
The Knife of Never Letting Go
Walker Books, 2009
THE FIRST THING you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say. About anything.
"Need a poo, Todd."
"Shut up, Manchee."
"Poo. Poo, Todd."
"I said shut it."
From the first lines of this novel (by the way, they’re very funny), we learn about the main feature of Prentisstown, the town where the protagonist of the book Todd Hewitt lives: everyone can read the thoughts of another. These thoughts are transmitted in the form of noise, incessant stream that does not stop ever, even during sleep. If someone can read someone’s minds, it does not mean that a lie disappeared from the world: Noise is called a noise that something important might be hidden behind other thoughts, make unimportant louder. So there are secrets.
Wandering through the swamp in search of berries, Todd with his dog Manchee suddenly stumble upon the silence. It simply can not be silent in Prentisstown, noise goes from all, even the insects. The silence soon turns out terrified girl, who not only doesn’t speak, but does not make Noise. Foster parents of Todd, Ben and Cillian, find out about the silence and immediately collect rucksack for Todd, give the map and send him out of town. Todd has to get to the next settlement: it turns out Prentisstown is not the only town on New World. Todd takes Manchee, the girl, too (she would have been killed by the local priest), and three of them flee to the nearest town. Behind them is a pursuit: boy Todd, who will become a man in a month, on the day of the 13th anniversary, is wanted by the mayor of Prentisstown.
«The Knife of Never Letting Go» is obviously a page-turner, with each chapter it ends so suddenly, on the most interesting place so that one must possess great strength of will to refuse to turn the page to the next chapter. There is almost no description in Ness’ book, but a lot of action. The whole book is one long chase, action-non-stop. Does this mean that the novel is brainless quest, hit-and-run? No way! Ness worked much with the language of the novel. Due to the fact that Todd can not read the words so knows language only by ear (and indeed on New World written language has been simplified, and forgotten for many), and Todd is a single narrator, the book is written in English of XIX century and English simplified, street, without a word from the depths of the dictionary.
«And are they gonna a-welcome us?»
«People are scared of what they don’t know, Todd pup,» she says, standing. «Once they know ye, the problem goes away.»
The book is all rhythmic, fast-paced; sentences often are like a machine-gun fire.
This novel is both Utopia and young adult novel at once. New World here is a kind of a planet where people came from Old World, hoping to build Garden of Eden and start all over again. But as always, some people are worse than others, and dream of paradise is crumbling. Throughout the book the author will still throw and throw new secrets, new mysteries, and clues of previous confusion of this world.
Theme of growing up in the novel is connected directly to the question: what makes a child an adult? Murder, on which everything and everyone pushes Todd? Not without reason the knife, mentioned in the book's title, plays a key role in the adventures of Todd and the choices of the future.
Patrick Ness, have written a book for children (as it presented by the publishers), actually wrote the book for all children and adults, too. This book is inventive to the last detail, affecting tears and breaking through sweat, funny, but about serious matters. And there's Story. If you think just tell the story is nothing, you're wrong.
Such a book should be picked up immediately in two copies: one on the shelf of a child, the other for himself. And it is only the first volume of the trilogy.