Summary (from Goodreads):
Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.
This was such an amazing surprise of a great book! I knew I’d like it because there are so man good reviews for it. And I’ve owned it for a long time. It’s on my reading challenge list of the year because it kept getting pushed to the end of my TBR lists, and I’m so glad I finally read it and put it at the front of my list. The only problem now is that I want to read the rest of the series, and I won’t have time to for a while. But still, it’s so good.
The book is kind of this smorgasbord of all cool YA themes: there’s mind-reading, feminism, talking animals, a creepy mystery, lots of discovering everything you knew about the world was wrong moments, war, kidnappings, fight scenes, important books, family drama, other worldly travel, aliens, and plenty of growing up. Seriously, just when I decided something like, “Oh, this is one of those dystopias,” I’d change my mind and declare it fantasy. And then after a while, it becomes sci-fi to the extreme. And despite all these fantastical elements, it never became too unbelievable. Like all good dystopias, it seems so real; like it’s possible the world can turn out this way (though I very much hope that it never does).
The whole concept of a world where men always know what everyone else is thinking and there’s never any quiet, is so completely terrifying. I love the idea that women’s mind’s are unreadable (once we know there are women alive out there –I’m not spoiling; this happens in the beginning). I also loved the writing style. Nothing is info-dumped on the reader. The reader is actually responsible for figuring out some things for him/her self. I called the biggest mystery only because I have read a lot of other dystopias. On the other hand, there were smaller details I didn’t guess. And I loved not guessing these things.
Todd is both the typical and also not so typical main character. He’s typical in his goodness. He can’t kill people (even the bad ones who attack his family and friends and then try to kill him). He does what his family asks of him even though he has no idea what is going on for a lot of the story. He wants to help his new friend, Viola, even though he knows nothing about her.
On the other hand, Todd can be selfish. He complains a lot. He swears. He judges people before knowing them. He never thinks of his dog before he thinks of himself. He’s terrible at lying and keeping thoughts to himself, even thoughts about how his world has not been kind to women. And his dialect is annoying…I had to throw that in. There is a definite slang to the language he speaks and lots of misspellings done on purpose that I never officially got over. But, all of Todd’s flaws (except maybe his language) add to his charm for me. I liked that despite all these things, he’s probably the nicest character in the book.
Nothing is easy for Todd, ever. Between the deaths left and right, the running for his life constantly, the starving, the fighting, the bruises, the losses, and the life-altering realizations he never really has a moment of peace. And this made for some highly entertaining plot devices. This book is action-packed. It read like a mixture of a Stephen King novel, a Veronica Roth novel, and The Giver. I honestly do not know how better to describe it than by making those comparisons.
I enjoyed the book from start to finish. It’s filled with tons of action, a never boring plot, and lots of twists and turns. The characters are wonderful. The world is terrifying. There’s pieces of fantasy, dystopia, sci-fi, and even contemporary YA in it. There is some weird language stuff I was not the biggest fan of, but still I give it a 10/10.