"The Knife of Never Letting Go" by Patrick Ness is the first book in the "Chaos Walking" trilogy.
In Prentisstown woman are absence, claimed to have perished by the same virus that caused all of the men, and even animals, to hear each others thoughts and even see memories. The constant noise of this ability is enough to drive anyone mad. Prentisstown is not set on earth but rather on another planet, a planet with two moons. The settlers of Prentisstown were the first pioneers in search of a new world to escape the suffocating, fouled earth, and the evils of man. There was a alien race inhabiting this new planet which the settlers termed the 'spackle', and our young narrator has been told that the spackle did not intend to share their planet with the human race, so in a effort to terminate them they released the virus that caused the death of all female humans, created this odd ability in the men and animals, and started the war between the two races that claimed so many lives.
Todd Hewitt is our narrator and is on the verge of his thirteenth birthday, the birthday that will mark his adulthood and make him a man. He is the last boy in Prentisstown, having been the last baby born before all of the female residents experienced a premature death. His only friend being his dog, Manchee. Because of being able to hear thoughts Todd is able to communicate with Manchee using this process. Todd is told that his mother passed due to the spackle virus, and his father died while fighting in the war. Todd is raised by his parents two friends, Ben and Cillian who raised him like a son.
So close to Todd's birthday, Ben and Cillian make the difficult decision to send Todd away. He is in danger although they cannot tell him why. In a town where everyone can hear your thoughts he would be in worse danger by knowing more then that. Todd and Manchee are pursued by the town when trying to make their escape, and Todd finds that trying to hide from his pursuers is nearly impossible when they can hear his every thought. His noise continues to give him away, although their noise also gives them away.
Todd comes to realize that something horrible has taken place in Prentisstown, and somehow he is involved whether he wants to be or not.
What really happened to the women in Prentisstown? What lays on the other side of the swamp? Why is he being pursued?
I had a difficult time with this book when I first started to read it. Due to its unorthodox use of grammer and various fonts and forms evident in speech I had to adjust for the first few chapters before I was able to fully immerse myself in the book. The use of the English language was poorly portrayed in this book, with intentional misspelling errors. At first I felt as if this dumbed down the book, but I soon felt otherwise as I saw what Patrick Ness intended when going forward with this procedure. Todd is illiterate, and as he is our narrator in the book we see things through his eyes. Patrick Ness is a very talented writer, and some flowery pose comes through in this book but he also manages to pull off a masterpiece using a very casual form of language.
I loved this book. I wasn't expecting to love it, much less enjoy it as much as I did. Such a beautiful, beautiful book. Trilling, exciting, heart wrenching, shocking, and just overall excelling in excellence.