The thing about talking dogs, Todd tell us, is that they really don’t have much to say.
Todd lives on New World. When the settlers arrived on the planet, it was supposed to be a new Eden. Instead, they arrived to hardship and sickness and aliens no one counted on. Then, in the midst of a war, came the Noise. All the women died. All of the men became infected with Noise: their every thought is projected out into the world, heard by all. But this is not the sort of telepathy you read about in books. This is real thought, the messy jumble of thinking several things at once, some of them contradictory. It’s overwhelming, nonsensical. Noise.
Todd is almost thirteen (or fourteen if he’d lived on Old World) and thus about to become a man. He’s the last boy in the village, the last child to be born before the sickness that killed the women and destroyed the men with Noise. But before his birthday arrives, he finds a well of silence in the swamp. A place where there is no Noise. What is causing it? And why does his entire town suddenly want to kill him just for discovering it? Forced to run, Todd must determine for himself what it means to be a man.
This was a hard-hitting, page-turning tour de force. The characters were superbly drawn and believable (with the possible exception of Aaron, but even Todd had a hard time believing in him). The author takes the idea of not being able to escape from constant bombardment of information and runs with it. I liked that all of the settlements reacted to the Noise differently, just as they would have in real life.
I loved the scene were Todd, having found someone with no Noise, makes the stunning realization that even though he can’t hear the actual thoughts, he can still know what that person is thinking simply because he knows that person. This is a perfect coming of age story, exploring what it means to be an adult, what it means to be a man, and the difficulties in ever knowing another person completely, whether you are privy to their thoughts or not. I can’t wait to read the next in the series, due to be published the first week of September.