Note: There are no spoilers in this review.
I made it through maybe two chapters of this dystopic YA novel, scoffing and contemptuous of all the hysteria in the blogosphere over this book, before I too became maniacally obsessed. It is really, really good!
Todd Hewitt is a young teen who lives in Prentisstown on New World, a planet originally colonized to make “a new way of life, one clean and simple and honest and good, one different from Old World in all respects…” In particular, the colonists came to establish a Church, one that would leave behind corruption in favor of purity and brotherhood.
Prentisstown is unique in that there are only men there (all the women were purportedly killed during the war against the resident aliens called Spackles), and secondly, the men can read each other’s minds. This latter phenomenon, said to be a product of bioterrorism from the Spackles, is called “The Noise” and even creatures communicate their thoughts. The Noise never stops, and many of the men go crazy.
While there’s no hiding from each other because of The Noise, Todd points out:
“…the thing to remember, the thing that’s most important of all that I might say in this here telling of things is that Noise ain’t truth, Noise is what men want to be true, and there’s a difference twixt those two things so big that it could ruddy well kill you if you don’t watch out.”
Sadly, Todd doesn’t take his own advice. And one day, only one month before his achieving “manhood” (according to some secret ritual of Prentisstown of which he is not yet aware), everything changes. For he discovers a place where there is no noise; there is only Quiet. And from then on, his life is in danger.
Evaluation: This book, Volume 1 of The Chaos Walking Trilogy, is as good as everyone claims it to be. I could come up with a quibble or two, but (a) it would involve spoilers and (b) they really don’t matter. It’s a terrific read – don’t miss this one! Oh, and while you’re reading, order the second volume in this trilogy, The Ask and The Answer, because I guarantee you will want it!
Published by Candlewick Press, 2008