"A knife ain't just a thing, is it? It's a choice, it's something you do." (Chapter 8)
"Too much informayshun can drive a man mad. Too much informayshun just becomes Noise." (Chapter 36)
Wow! What a book. Read at a gallop.
Prentisstown is a settlement in a New World, a world in which all men can hear each other's thoughts and all women can hear the thoughts of every man (but female thoughts are hidden). A world where all these thoughts have turned into a never-ending Noise. A world in which animals can talk (though the stupider ones have most limited vocabularies; the sheep just say 'Sheep').
Todd Hewitt, the last boy in Prentisstown is told to run from the town a month before he becomes a man. He runs with the first girl he has ever met, because all the females in Prentisstown are dead, killed by a germ from the Spackles. They flee mad preacher Aaron, Mayor Prentiss and his army and his sadistic son Davy.
This 'children's' book is all about loss. Todd has already lost mother and father, Ben and Cillian who bring him up soon disappear, and it seems that everyone Todd meets will die. He loses his innocence too.
It moves at an incredible pace (as Todd and Viola run towards the town of New Haven, where there is Hope). You can never relax because if you do you will be caught by Aaron, or Davy, or the army of Mayor Prentiss. Everyone is suspect and your Noise always give you away. The prose is sparse, and tight, and key words are repeated with surprise, and Todd is a brilliant hero because he is a boy who feels things but has certain handicaps (he can't read so the map he has is almost useless; although Viola can read he is ashamed to let her and by the time he does she hasn't the time to read much so all the dreadful, secrets of the New World are let out little by little).
A wonderful book which ends on a complete cliff hanger so I just have to read the next one NOW...
December 2010; 479 pages
Thee trilogy continues with:
There is now a feature film based on the trilogy called Chaos Walking