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.

Negatives:
  • 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.

Despite the flaws that this series has, it tells its story so compellingly and conveys its themes so powerfully, that I'd still recommend this to anyone Read it, please.
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