A well-crafted young adult fiction novel, that firmly creates a whole new world for its readers. Literally – the setting is New World, a planet ostensibly inhabited by humans who left Earth for a simpler, more wholesome lifestyle. But upon arriving the settlers realized that the atmosphere of their new home had some interesting side effects – the thoughts of men became audible to everyone. What a predicament – how to keep secrets in a world like this.
But what happened to the women? Well Todd Hewitt, our main character, has been told that they all died out. He sees echoes of them in the ‘Noise’ (the sound of all those thought co-mingling) of the fellow men in Prentisstown, but has never seen one.
One day, within counting of the moment that he must undergo a ritual to “become a man”, Todd hears a silence in the swamp. And his world unravels. It’s a girl.
Todd is forced to flee Prentisstown with many questions left unanswered, and with little idea of what exists outside the isolated village he had been taught to think of as the whole world. But how do you escape when your very thoughts serve to betray you?
He must travel with this unknown creature, and in doing so not only does he come to understand the world he lives in, but also his own true nature is revealed. The last boy in Prentisstown has a special significance.
Patrick Ness has done what few can do well – he has created a whole new world that is both intriguing and detailed. He leaves plenty to be revealed in subsequent novels that will take us back to Todd’s story. No doubt I will catch up with these soon. A hearty thanks to the student who recommended this.