Todd Hewitt lives in a community peopled only by men, and has one month left until he too becomes one. All the men are afflicted with something called “the Noise”, meaning they can hear each other’s thoughts, all the time, all over town. There were women in the community once, but they didn’t survive the infection that brought the noise. Todd’s mother was one of the last women to die, while Todd was still a baby.
While Todd and his dog, Manchee, are out walking in the area around Prentisstown one day, he comes across a place with no noise whatsoever. This is very unusual, and when he returns home to the two men who raised him, they are worried enough by his discovery that they bundle him up and tell him to leave. There are other men in town who suspect they know what Todd has discovered, and want to stop him at any cost.
Todd is confused and upset, not to mention surprised his foster fathers have been able to keep secrets from him at all, what with all the Noise all the time. He’s given a backpack of supplies, a journal with a map in the front and a knife to defend himself with and sent on his way with Manchee as his only company. He has to go through the swamp surrounding the town and leave the only home he’s ever known. As Todd runs for his life, through the swamp, chased by hostile townsmen, many of whom he grew up with, he discovers the source of the mysterious silent space. As he gets further away from Prentisstown, he also discovers that there is a lot more to the world than he ever suspected, and many of the truths he has grown up believing, may in fact be nothing but clever lies.
I just want to warn readers that this is a really grim read. Full review here.