Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness
The Knife of Never Letting Go
The Ask and The Answer
Monsters of Men
This science fiction young adult trilogy has a dash of dystopian and romance. I was lucky enough to score the first book on Amazon for 99 cents, and oh. my. gosh. In Todd's world, you can hear men's noise. Their thoughts, their dreams, their hopes. Instead of neat phrases like some mind reading stories go, Noise is a mass of pictures and feelings and words, and you can't escape it. Todd lives in Prentisstown and there are no more women. The virus killed them all. But suddenly when he sees some kind of silence near the swamp and tells his family about it, his life is turned upside down. When he meets Viola, the only girl he's ever met, he can't hear her Noise. They're forced to run from the Mayor of Prentisstown and a priest who claims Viola is some kind of sacrifice. Having never been out of Prentisstown, Todd has no idea where he's going, so they have to rely on one another as they flee to Haven.
At first, it took me a little while to get used to Todd's voice. It's first person and almost stream-of-consciousness. Very similar to the Noise, actually. He's been raised in a farming village so he sounds a bit like a hick and he can't read very much, either. But after a bit, I eased right into it. Ness is great with voice and his writing is fast-paced. At high tension moments, you honestly can't read the words quickly enough. And there are a lot of those. This has so much adventure and action and high stakes.
At first, you're not really sure why the Mayor and the other men of Prentisstown are following Todd and Viola, why they're so set on getting Todd and making him a man. But as Todd and Viola meet more people on their world, Todd (and the reader) realizes that Prentisstown has a lot of secrets in their dark past, and Todd has been kept in the dark about a lot of things. It was almost frustrating because it takes forever to get any answers in the first book -- everyone seems intent on lying to, or at least keeping the truth from, Todd. But things come together in the end and in the second and third book.
This series deals with a lot of things. There are themes of colonialism and conquering indigenous people, anarchy and terrorism and political control, and a lot more. But even though these are prevalent themes, I never felt like Ness was preaching at me or something. I was wrapped up in the story, in the characters and their struggles. I ended up loving Todd and Viola so much. This world was so amazing and different, especially with the Noise and the Spackle and. . .just wow! This series needs more attention, in my opinion. It's a great scifi/dystopian young adult series with a lot of adventure and a lot of heart.