Abandon all hope
ye who enter here. By here,
I mean Prentisstown.
skycornerless lent this to me, & I ended up unimpressed. I'll be brief with my blurb of it, thus. The premise is thus: dystopian farming community on another planet, medium Christian overtones. All men! All telepaths! Claimed to be part of a biological attack launched by the original humanoid inhabitants of the planet, the Noise killed all the women & made all the men constantly spewing their thoughts all over. Which is the "hook" for the book; boy's dog can talk to him! Boy is inundated by the stray notions of fellows. Boy sends his every niggling though as a broadcast! The other pithy bit of the book is the spelling-- "desperayshun" for "desperation" & lots of ain'ts & what have you-- & lots of scribbly font for the Noise. The real issue I have with the book isn't either of those things, though.
First, is the relentlessly bleak tone. I'm so over the idea that constant misery makes something deep. Oh man bad things happen to everybody, all the time! Yawn. The second is related: lots of cheap tricks, narrativly. Just when you thought X...Y! Oh..okay? Then, for no reason, Z jumps out of the bushes! Third problem hooks into both of those, too: I hate stupid protagonists. I will admit a weakness for competance porn, but I really don't like characters who are willfully ignorant. "Oh, you mean this big book of plot exposition? No, I'll just carry it around in my backpack without ever reading it. No, it is probably best if I don't look in the big book of plot exposition till the end." Note: there is an actual book, this is not a metaphor. Along with plenty of "He shows me something in his Noise, but I don't want to narrate about it here in the story. I'll wait till the end of the book." Oh & of course related to all three of these things is the fact that everything the protagonist believes is a lie, so of course there are still women alive, still aliens alive, &c. Which brings me to one of the just boring, problematic things in the book. The men, they shoot their Noise everywhere, while women, they just don't have any. They are silent! Okay, it turned out not to be as much of a disaster as I thought that would be (Creative Light! Consuming Void!) but still, it got under my skin. & again, is easy, cheap. Oh boy, gender dichotomy! Really though, the thing that most bugs me: this is a series? What. Why. The same scene is repeated again & again in this book-- the evil preacher attacks the boy, the boy doesn't kill him, the boy escapes. That happens...three? Four times? Can we maybe condense that? No, because then we wouldn't get the bleak, cheap, implausible, predictable twist at the end, would we. Really, if whatever is in the latter books was gleaned, put into here, I might be more forgiving.