BOOK REVIEW: Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness

★★★★★ 5/5

Obsessed with sci-fi, dystopian fiction, inhabiting new planets, aliens, the Wild West, and reading the minds of every living creature? Yes? Good. Don't go anywhere because Chaos Walking is the trilogy for you.

Chaos Walking is something else. Let me start by saying, I was going to talk about each book individually, but this story just doesn't work that way. There are three books, but only the last book, Monsters of Men, has a proper ending. The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer have TERRIBLE cliffhangers. I thank the friggin universe that I didn't find out about this series until recently simply because waiting for the next to be written and published would have literally killed me. You think I'm being dramatic, but just you wait until you get to the end of The Knife of Never Letting Go. You'll see what I mean. So have The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men on hand and ready to go.

I'm surprised to this day how long I had gone without ever hearing about Patrick Ness. It wasn't until I saw the trailer for the movie adaptation of A Monster Calls (check out my review for that lovely book right here) that I got introduced to this brilliant author, and he is brilliant. Heart is the most important thing in a story, and this man has it in spades. Patrick Ness writes different genres, but all of his works seem to share this unified heart--at least from what I've read. My point, no matter the genre, I have not been disappointed. I love this about Ness.

Chaos Walking is many things, as I kind of listed at the beginning, but at its core, it's a study on what it means to be human. The characters are real and complex. The main character, Todd, the first narrator of Chaos Walking, is a boy we get to know very well. The moral conflicts he has to struggle through are real and gritty. He is imperfect, he falls, but at his core, he is so good and so kind, and he fights to get back up over and over again. Viola is the second character we get to know intimately, and she is a strong-willed girl, more analytical than Todd and less feeling in some ways, but she's also a fighter with good intentions finding her way in this world. They face this harsh planet together and what a journey it is. You will fall in love with these two.

There are so many more characters I could mention, but the cast is so wide and colorful, you'll enjoy it more if you just dive into The Knife of Never Letting Go instead of getting character profiles from me. Promise. Before I leave characters, one more thing about Todd... I appreciate so so so so SO much that Patrick Ness gave us a boy with a big heart, who shows his big heart. Too often boys are taught not to be feeling, but we all have feelings, and there's nothing wrong with not being able to kill. Yes. Todd can't kill. Because killing is awful and too often glorified.

Violence is not glory. Violence is not impressive. It's messy, it's brutal, it's painful, or at least it should be if we can still feel.

Humans left Earth since the place was messy, crowded, broken. Chaos Walking takes place on a planet a bunch of people scoped out from back on Earth. It was inhabitable and they didn't find any signs of other intelligent life. However, intelligent life does, in fact, exist there and it caused a lot of problems with the first settlers. War. Violence. Even worse, this planet connects every living being and humans are no exception. Well, men and boys. Women and girls are the only ones immune to Noise.

Imagine if your thoughts were open to everyone else. Every single little thing you thought was broadcast to a wide area around you. Chaos? Definitely. Now, imagine if this was men only. What if men couldn't hide their thoughts but women could. More chaos? Most definitely. Segregation, prejudice, sexism, all these things are explored in the alien world of Chaos Walking, but it's not so alien when you think about it because people do these things anyway.

What does it mean to be human? Go find out.

Read the trilogy. Right now!

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