The Knife of Never Letting Go. This book immediately appealed to me because the title is…not quite clear, pleasantly and captivatingly so. The jacket is pretty eye catching, too–but having purchased it on a kindle, I didn’t really notice the snappy cover.
The book begins with a charming narrative from Manchee, the main character Todd’s pooch: “Need a poo, Todd! Poo, poo.” Now, hold on– before you start thinking this is another lame talking animal story, there are some facts that make it pretty cool.
Todd Hewitt lives in a world dominated by NOISE. After surviving a war with the world’s original residences, the Spackle, the humans have been infected by a germ that infected every man and beast, and killed every woman….hence the dog that can communicate through its simplistic, humorous thoughts. Every stray thought, every passing reflection is broad-cast to anyone within hearing range of your Noise. And passing through Prentisstown, Todd’s home, is murder on the mind. A thousand raging thoughts mingling and exploding within your own thoughts, reading your own like an open book, pictures both mundane and violent put into your brain, no secrets among them, except those you bury under layers of darkness. It’s madness.
As if this wasn’t enough to deal with, Todd is the last boy of the town. Meaning, when Todd turns thirteen, he’ll be considered a man. This is a source of pride to Todd, until he’s let in on the secret of how men are made in Prentisstown.
But when Todd encounters something in swamp, the first day of his new life is put into rapid motion…
Overall, this is a great story. It has themes of survival and love, dealing with hate and overcoming difficulty, and learning what it means to truly be a man.
But here’s where I throw in the negative elements. There is cursing in this tale, mostly done by the main character himself. There are several scatological terms, and many obscenities, including “D” words and “Hell” used rudely. The most glaring of these is the use of “Eff”, in place of the more horrible word.
Also, the antagonist is, (in true cliche form), a preacher who spouts his own gospel. This warped preacher teaches how to incur submission and act with violence. But this is not done in the spirit of saying that religion or love for God is evil. It shows how deluted and crazy Prentisstown really is.
However, cursing aside, this story gets 4 out of 5 stars. It’s plot is fantastically fresh and original, and despite the fact that most of the story is Todd’s flight to freedom and safety, the pace never relents or loses pace. Great story, compelling characters…..good read.