Saturday, 31 January 2009

Patrick Ness - The Knife of Never Letting Go

This book has won a recent teenage prize - it's an exploration of how society may develop as man sets off to colonise new worlds, how they live with what they find there, and how they cope with the mistakes.

That makes it seem rather prosaic - it certainly isn't. It is written from the viewpoint of Todd, a boy on the threshold of manhood, who works on the farm of his carers, and has a talking dog - Manchee. The colony they are part of is all male, a sickness has wiped out all the females, and given the men an ability (or curse) in that they can hear each others thoughts all the time. There has been a war on the Spackle who were thought to be the cause of the sickness and who are all thought to be dead as the story starts.

Once you have read the first page you are dragged into this terrifying vision of the future and have to unravel the truth, little by little, as Todd does as he tries to flee the despotic, cruel Mayor and the rest of Prentisstown. Manchee is a wonderful character, with all the characteristics of a truly faithful dog, but he can talk!

I can understand why this won - it's a roller coater ride with fear at every turn.

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