Previously: The Knife of Never Letting Go
Good golly Miss Molly, I’m not sure where to start with this one. The first book blew me out of the water. The second one made me wonder what in the heck more can happen to these poor people (ie. Todd and Viola). The third is surely gonna make my head explode.
It was good. Really, really, excellently good.
Ness writes with an honesty few others do. He’s created a world and instead of getting all scifi-crazy-name on it he’s gone the exact opposite route. Settlers left their world and set out to start a life on a new one, appropriately named New World. He’s taken a town, named after the Mayor, Prentisstown, and when the mayor takes over Haven (a supposed haven from the likes of the Mayor ironically enough) he renames it New Prentisstown. I respect this like nothing else. I mean, it is so exactly what people would do isn’t it (yes, yes it is). The lack of originality humans show when naming their new homes is almost mind boggling in its…lack of originality…Anyhow, big thumbs up for this Mr. Ness. Obviously the first book in the series covered our introduction to this, but I don’t think it struck me until the second book how integral I found this to be to my buy in of the story.
If you thought the first book was gritty, and violent, well, never you worry, this one is more of all of that. The story is told from both Viola’s and Todd’s perspectives. I was a bit hesitant at first, but man I ended up really liking that. Viola is a force of nature. She is fierce in a way few female characters are (even my beloved Katniss, Katsa, and Alanna). She’s got no special talents, no extraordinary strengths. Just shear bloody determination. And it is something special to behold.
Text is used again to indicate the noise virus, but less so than in the first book. It was also used to indicate explosions with giant BOOMs and the like. I thought that really worked well. It was pared down, still effective, maybe even more so now that we understand the noise and the toll it takes on men.
I also liked how the theme of responsibility runs through the story. This is not a story of destiny (although it wouldn’t take much to convince me that there is some destiny at work for Todd) it is solidly a story of decisions. We are what we choose, our decisions define us. They make us who we are. And yet, if we fall we can pick ourselves back up. Let me tell you, I can’t hardly wait to see what the choices are in book three.
I love the confusion in this book. I love the title and how it fits into the story. I love that Mayor Prentiss, over-the-top evil mastermind that he is can so clearly manipulate everyone and that includes the reader. I even fell a little in love with Davy, he who shot Viola in book one. And the Spackle. Oh dear the Spackle. You are in for a ride with them.
If you haven’t read the first book you should. This series is my number one pick for teen boys – it is the first thing I check to see if it is on the shelf and available. It usually isn’t.