I had never heard of this book before, but it’s apparently four years old. I can’t remember how I came across it. It sounded intriguing, but was billed as Young Adult Fiction and was the first in a series, so (like I have before) I thought I’d give it a read to see if it was suitable for my 12 year old daughter.
Todd is twelve years and thirteen months old and lives in Pretisstown with his stupid but loyal dog Manchee and Ben & Cillian, the two men that have raised him. Prentisstown is populated entirely by men. Todd has never seen a woman or a girl apart from in the images in the Noise of the older men around him.
The Noise is everywhere, it is made of what people are thinking and feeling, and is a constant stream. Todd can recognise people approaching, simply by their Noise. Even Manchee and other animals have their own Noise, although Manchee (just being a stupid dog) is kind of limited to things like “Poo, Todd!” and sheep don’t seem to think much more than “Sheep”.
One day, Todd makes a discovery that puts the lives of him and his loved ones at risk, and means that he has to leave Prentisstown immediately. But how do you make your escape when everyone can hear your very existence?
The story took a while for me to fall into the rhythm of. Manchee’s very basic language and Todd’s inclination to mis-spell certain words (and there didn’t really seem to be a pttern to which ones!) jarred somewhat BUT, right from the beginning, there was something thoroughly compelling about the story. Something that just wanted me to find all the answers to my questions!
What happened to all the women? What happens when Todd is 14? Why do they have 14 months in their years? Why does there seem to be no technology at all, and yet there are hints at it? Where IS Prentisstown?
Luckily, all these questions ARE answered within the book, but the story progresses so far and is so action-packed that there are a whole load of new questions that I have now ready for the next book!
However, I am still undecided whether to let The Girl read it, as it was rather intense and dark in places and there was one scene that took me by surprise and made me actually cry! There’s quite a bit of violence and I think it could be just a little too scary for her just now. Maybe in another year I’ll suggest she reads it – she’ll probably have turned into an emo or some other rubbish by then.
I really, really enjoyed it, and even though I finished it more than 2 weeks ago, I still keep thinking about it which is a really good sign!