The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness centers around the last boy in a town of men called Prentisstown. This town seems to be the only surviving settlement in the New World after a war that wiped out all the women and the native species, known as The Spackle. However, if men weren’t chaotic enough, this definitely pushed it over the edge because every man was infected by a germ that gave them Noise, meaning everyone’s thoughts could be heard. And in a town full of men, that means every violent, lustful and insecure thought. It’s a town with no secrets… or is it?
In the first book of this trilogy, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Todd is the only boy in Prentisstown and must wait until his fourteenth birthday to become a man. However, for the first time, he encounters a space of pure silence. When venturing far from the settlement, he finds a place with no Noise. Because of what he’s discovered, his two guardians, Cillian and Ben, tell him to flee. Todd and his dog, Manchee, must leave Prentisstown with some food, a first aid kit and a book that his mother left him. While running away from the Mayor, he discovers the one thing he never thought he’d find: a girl named Viola.
All these books take place in the New World as the main characters, Todd and Viola, discover more than they ever thought they would about this society. Patrick Ness’s writing is incredibly well done. In the first book, the audience was restricted to only one point of view which was that of Todd’s. The syntax of Todd’s thoughts really brought suspense into the story. The audience was learning new things as Todd was; therefore, allowing for certain events to be misinterpreted and leaving us guessing the truth. Ness also explores themes of feminism and control through Viola’s character and the concept of Noise.
In the second book, The Ask and The Answer, Patrick Ness added Viola’s point of view so the audience was able to get both Todd and Viola’s insight. This allowed the audience to understand Viola’s motives and feelings for Todd. By having both perspectives, we could follow both characters, which was necessary since for much of the second book, Todd and Viola were separated. Patrick Ness also brought back some loose ends from the first book. For example, the native species called The Spackle were reintroduced in this book, bringing forth themes of racial discrimination between the humans and the Spackle.
The final book, Monsters of Men, is pure chaos. When you though it couldn’t get any worse, Patrick Ness throws in a new twist and adds a surprise point of view. Throughout the entire series, the ending remains unclear, but it really made the entire series pay off when the last chapters were quickly approaching. Even though you’re put through the worst possible situations, the ending is cleverly done. Most of the loose ends are tied and even though the future for certain characters is still elusive, the reader is given a good idea of what is next. These books tackled themes of war and human manipulation. It demonstrated how violence can transform humans, but it also garnered an element that really made it worth it: love. The love that grew between Todd and Viola strengthened the entire series and allowed you to invest yourself completely in their lives. It showed that despite the chaos that goes on internally and externally, love is what saves all.
Ultimately, this trilogy was one of my favorites. The suspense, love and themes really captured my attention. It showed the true nature of humanity when placed in strenuous situations and although “war makes monsters of men”, Ness showed that even when all hope is gone, the good of men (and women, of course) always prevails.