I know I’m getting a bit (read: very) gushy about Patrick Ness and the Chaos Walking Trilogy, but I really can’t help it. It is so incredibly hard to write well about something that you love so much – all appropriate words go out the window and you’re just left with dust and a couple of moths rolling around between your eyeballs. I’ll give it a go, but I can’t promise it’ll be my best!
So, what’s going down? Well things have basically gone from bad, to worse, to bloody terrible. Three large and stubborn armies march on New Prentisstown – each hellbent on revenge, destruction and control. This is war. It’s messy and chaotic and Todd and Viola are caught right in the middle. And as if things weren’t bad enough, away from guns and explosives Todd and Viola are separated and facing extreme mental and moral battles of their own. Can they save the New World, and each other, before its too late?
Ness continues with his split narrative, but this time with the added bonus of a third mystery guest. The narrative newcomer turns out to be our spiky old friend, 1017. Initially I found this addition a little bit jarring because it’s written very differently from Todd and Viola’s chapters, but once I got used to it I thought it was an exceedingly clever and interesting choice. Witnessing events from the perspective of a Spackle character was a stroke of genius. Not only did it add a completely fresh point of view, it also allowed the reader to find out more about the Spackle and their place in the New World, which has remained mostly a mystery up until now.
I’ve said it before and I have no problems with saying it again: Ness creates some of the most incredible characters I’ve ever, ever come across. President Prentiss is a villain written with such complexity that I found myself questioning my judgement time and time again. He’s a far scarier creation than your garden variety YA bad guy. I won’t say too much about Todd and Viola, because I’m liable to spend about a million years listing the many reasons why they’re brilliant, but instead I will say that I particularly enjoyed the introduction of Bradley and Simone: two new characters from Viola’s settler ship who bought a sense of modernity to the plot. There are quite a few supporting characters in this book, but you never feel like they’re there for the sake of it – each one is distinct and they all bring richness to the pages of the story.
The writing is yet again sublime, and despite its size, Ness keeps the momentum going until the book culminates in a heart-breaking, tear-jerking, nail-biting conclusion. Many other reviewers have said that the ending of this book made them cry, and I have no problem in holding my hands up and admitting to that one too. I wanted to ugly cry like no one was watching, but I was sat in my car eating a lame excuse for a sandwich in a very busy supermarket car park (GLAM I KNOW) so I probably would have looked a bit crazy.
I’m now at the point where I want to force the Chaos Walking Trilogy upon anyone and everyone I know. It is such a joy to read a series that is bursting at the seams with so much depth, emotion, intelligence and love. It has become one of my very favourite series of books across any genre, for any age group. A glittering and moving body of work, it more than deserves a place sitting alongside His Dark Materials and Harry Potter as one of theb greatest examples of 21st Century children’s literature. If you haven’t read them: do it now.
- Author: Patrick Ness
- Release Date: July 2014
- Pages: 390
- Rating: 5/5
- In three words: A modern classic.