For the last five weeks, I have been immersed into Patrick Ness’ creation that is New World and the Chaos Walking trilogy. I first stumbled across this story when I saw that it was due to come out as a film at the beginning of next year and that the film was actually based of off the book series by Patrick Ness. I read up on the books to get a better understanding of the basic plot and I knew straight away that this was a story I needed to read.
Dystopian and futuristic novels are one of my favourite genres to read, and I hadn’t read anything of the kind since I read The Hunger Games trilogy back in 2011/2012.
As soon as I found the trilogy on Amazon I bought it right away and luckily it arrived the next day, thanks to Amazon Prime, if I had to wait longer than a day I would have gone out and bought it because I was just so desperate to jump straight into this story.
The first book in the trilogy is called The Knife of Never Letting Go and it is told from the perspective of the story’s protagonist, Todd Hewitt. Todd Hewitt lives in Prentisstown, which isn’t like other towns as everyone can hear the thoughts and secrets of any living being at all hours of the day, this is known as Noise.
Todd is just one month away from his birthday that will see him become a man but one day he unexpectedly comes across a spot of complete silence in the Noise, and the discovery of this silence leaves Todd in a position were he must run if he is to survive.
What I loved about this first book is how easy it was to get into the story, at the time I read this book I was completing my final exams so I had to be strict with how much I read at a time because I easily could have sat and read it within a day! My imagination was captivated right from the first page, and what I found interesting was that you were able to depict a lot about the character of Todd just by the way the author, Patrick Ness, written his narrative.
In the book, Todd is only 12 years old, approaching his 13th birthday, and the way his account has been written, helps to shows his age and adds to his character. For example, Ness uses ‘yer’ instead of ‘your’ and the use of other slang such as ‘ain’t’. Ness also spelt words as you would say them, as if almost phonetically, such as ‘stayshun’ and ‘populayshun’. I did find this hard to get used to at first, but I soon adapted to it and in later books it made it so much easier when you were swapping between different perspectives.
Do not let it fool you that these books are labelled as young adult because these books have their fair share of violence, and at times, quite graphic violence that sometimes makes you forget that the story is following the events of a 12 year old boy.
The Knife of Letting Go is such a wonderful book at setting the foundations of what is to come in the next two books, the introductions to the stories key characters is quite one dimensional, however it still easy, as a reader, to invest in the characters as in the second and third books there is plenty of character exploration and development. What I did like is that as this book is to become a movie, the casting of the characters is known so I liked that I was able to picture that actor as the character or see if my vision of the character was similar to the casting.
I loved that Todd had a furry companion throughout the book, his dog, Manchee, added such a child-like quality and energy into the book and he added light to a story that seemingly has a darker plot; and I loved how much of a key character he played and it was refreshing to have that element of ‘mans best friend’, even if there were a few tears (quite a lot of tears) at the end.
Todd grew up in Prentisstown believing that all women had died from the infection that allowed all men and living creatures to hear each other’s Noise, but when Todd encounters a girl, Viola Eade, as he is fleeing Prentisstown, she becomes an integral part to his survival and she joins him in fleeing the town.
The army, lead by Mayor Prentiss, the story’s antagonist, are in pursuit of Todd and Viola, and the hunt for two of them creates so much suspense and thrill within the story that you can’t help but continue to read. In my opinion, this book, or in fact this series, if the definition of a page-turner!
The first book in this trilogy is only the tip of the iceberg and really does create a great set of foundations for the story to evolve on. The second book is called The Ask and the Answer and after fleeing the army, Todd and Viola are faced with Mayor Prentiss, their worst enemy. They are separated and imprisoned immediately and must now learn to live under the rule of the Mayor and his new order, until the day the bombs begin to explode.
This book is told from the perspectives of both Todd and Viola, and going back to the point I made early regarding the language and the way Todd’s narrative is written, the clear differences between the language and grammar used for the two narratives of Todd and Viola make it extremely easy to swap between them and I found the voice in my head reading the different narratives would sound slightly different and made it seem so effortless and this technique used by Ness just adds so much depth to the story and the characters.
The third and final book of the trilogy is called Monsters of Men and the story continues with the war that was evolving in the second book. I don’t wait to give too much of the plot away for the final one as I would end up giving away too many spoilers, especially with the addition of a third and unexpected perspective!
So the biggest theme in these books is war and power, and on a much larger scale, these two things usually go hand in hand in society today. There are a lot of reoccurring motifs that centre around the idea of war and power such as armies and weapons and these both play and important part in this story.
What I like is how this story combines the ‘traditional’ way of war such as on horseback and on foot with classic weapons whilst also having a large science fiction twist, giving off a futuristic vibe but still keeping it realistic and as authentic as it can be; there was not one time where I thought the story was reaching a point where it seemed to become obscure or unrealistic but instead felt extremely real.
I also loved the depth and development of the characters in the second and third books and I found myself getting so attached to the characters, even the ones you love to hate. I especially got attached to Todd and Viola and the relationship that developed between the pair, it felt so very genuine and they came across so effortlessly yet unique as well, nothing ever felt forced. In my opinion, Todd and Viola are the new Katniss and Peeta, they’ve definitely got a run for their money! It pains me to say this as well, but I think the Chaos Walking trilogy has won me over from The Hunger Games and I would definitely, 100% recommend the Chaos Walking trilogy to anyone who loves The Hunger Games, or anyone at all for that matter.
I am so unbelievably excited to see what the movie adaption is going to be like for The Knife of Letting Go, because the books have a special place in my heart now and it definitely deserves so much more recognition and I hope the film does just that.
Let me know if you have read these books and what your thoughts are on them.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars!
[Many thanks to my beautiful dogs Bailey and Daisy, even though it was a bit of a shambles and the books ended up covered in slobber trying to get these photographs]