Reviews: Chaos Walking
My Absolute Favorite Series
WARNING; There will be spoilers. Okay, when I picked up the first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go, I was struck by the lyrical title but did not know what to expect beyond grittiness. I thought it looked good, but wasn't sure of the quality between the covers. I should not have been worried; this is now one of my favorite book series. Positives:
- An addictive quality to the books that make you continue past two a.m. with a flashlight under the covers.
- Todd and Viola. Individually, as characters, they both are heart-wrenchingly real, both seeking so hard to do the right thing in a world where "the right thing" is not always clear. But they are even more compelling through their relationship and how, no matter what, they will help each other.
- The prose is significantly more than serviceable; there are so many bits you just want to read over and over so you can devour the words and the emotions behind them.
- Patrick Ness's ability to play around with themes such as sexism, redemption, revenge, terrorism, totalitarianism, and war.
- Todd, Viola, and The Return's voices. You can tell who is narrating each chapter immediately.
- Patrick Ness's willingness to hurt his characters and send them down some seriously dark paths.
- Todd and Mayor Prentiss's relationship is one of the most fascinating hero-villain relationships I have ever seen.
- The world building was for the most part spectacular, giving a clear sense of what is happening on the New World.
- The fact that a gay couple is shown matter-of-factly as being normal.
- The plot is genuinely unpredictable.
- There were a lot of well done "Oh crap" moments.
- Manchee is the only talking dog I've seen successfully written. Adorable and somehow wise while always sounding like a dog.
- The pacing in book one is a bit wonky.
- Manchee's death felt a little too manipulative.
- A bit of repetition in book one.
- After the pulls-no-punches look at totalitarianism in book two, the third book felt like it could have been more brutal in its depiction of war.
- In book three, the nearly constant change in POV in some chapters was a little annoying.