Published by Walker Books in 2008
Challenges - 100+ books
The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say. About anything.
'Need a poo, Todd.'
'Shut up, Manchee.'
Is it possible to love and hate a book at the same time. Well, it has to be, because this is how this book made me feel. I loved majority of it, yet there were parts that frustrated me and parts that I absolutely hated because of the effect they had on me.
The main character in this book is Todd, a young boy about to reach his thirteenth birthday. He lives in what can only be described as a dystopian style town. He lives in a town called Prentisstown, where there are no women left. In the town, everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts all the time. There is no chance of any privacy as everyone knows what your secrets are.
During a walk with his dog to collect apples, he stumbles across a spot of complete silence. An area where he can hear absolutely nothing. This shouldn't be and Todd becomes confused. Has his hometown lied to him. Todd's discovery leads him into danger and now he must run for his life.
This book is written in present tense, so you get a sense of urgency right from page one. I found this difficult to read for the first few pages, then after a while I forgot all about it and lost myself in the story. The way Todd talks can be quite difficult to follow, as he has suffered from a lack of a formal education. I struggle to read prose when the words are mispelt and have an urge to get my red marking pen out for corrections.
At the beginning of this post I told you I loved and hated it. I will start with the part I hated because I still get angry about it. There is a part in the book, that I wasn't expecting and I found it really upsetting. I am not going to tell you what it is, because that would spoil it for you and you may not be affected by it as I was. For me, there were real tears, to the point I had to put the book down and go and do something else. Then when I picked it up again, I was drawn back to the part that upset me, just to convince me that it did actually happen. I have even moaned in a previous post, that I wish someone had warned me. I still can't see why it had to happen and I am sure there were other ways the story could be written.
The part I found frustrating was the pace of the book. From the beginning, the book is intense and in parts I felt quite breathless by how fast everything was happening. It is the type of story where the characters are constantly in trouble and never get a chance to recover from the previous incident before something else lands on them. If I had been one of the characters, I would definitely have laid down and given up.
Ok, that is the horrible part and the frustrating part out of the way. Now for the good bits.
I loved the characters in the book. Manchee, the talking dog was my absolute favourite and I know anyone who has read the book will be looking at my childish humour with disdain. I found Manchee to be really entertaining, to the point I was actually quoting Manchee's words when my own dog needed the toilet.
The twists and turns in the plot of this story were mind blowing. There are so many unseen parts to the plot that crop up. The world Todd lives in constantly changes as you read the book. Everything you believe about Todd and his world in the beginning will lie in shattered pieces by the end and you will be looking at a whole new world.
This book has a lot of violence in it and I did flinch quite a bit, but the violence just made the story more real. Personally, I don't cope well when violent situations are described so vividly. There is a degree of feminism within the story and from what I have heard about Book Two this is taken a lot further.
On the whole, I think I loved it and would recommend to anyone who enjoyed The Hunger Games, only this one is lot more violent and will leave you with a mind full of questions.
I am definitely going to read the follow up The Ask and The Answer because I have to know what happens next. I can't possibly carry on with out knowing. At least with the second book I will be prepared for the violence.