Not too long ago I saw someone recommend The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. Knowing nothing about it, I picked it up... and I'm so so glad I did.
Todd Hewitt lives in a world where all the women are dead, animals talk, and men hear each other's thoughts. In a month he will be 13 and make the transition from boy to man... the last to come of age in the entire settlement of Prentisstown. But when he and his dog find a silent gap in the constant Noise of the world, he is suddenly in danger. He must run for his life, trying to keep ahead of the men who are hunting him and who can hear his every thought.
This book did so many things right. From the beginning the Noise—the constant barrage of thoughts from animals and people alike—is totally believable. It's fascinating too, and it really pulled me in. As a Big Idea, it works! And not only that, but the world that has developed because of the Noise works too.
The moral dilemmas are completely gripping. The book doesn't flinch away from questions about morality and the ability to take a person's life, or about what makes a creature a “person” or what separates a boy from a man. Todd faces some very heavy moral issues over the course of the book, and I felt like I was right there in his shoes in every case.
The plot moves quickly and kept me flipping pages. I don't think I put it down for a second all throughout the second half. Ness leaves a few mysteries until the very end of the book, and by the time I got the answers I was half wild with needing to know the truth.
The characters work well and interact beautifully. I adored Manchee, the dog, and he now has a place of honor at the top of my “favorite fictional animals” list. I can't really say more about the characters without giving too much away, but... they were great.
And Todd's voice is just so real and comfortable. I truly enjoyed spending time listening to him.
Overall: definitely one of my favorite books from the past few months, and probably one of my favorites this year as well. I hope I can get my hands on the next book in the series soon!