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Literature / Chaos Walking

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"The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, man is just chaos walking."

Chaos Walking is the collective term for Patrick Ness's books The Knife of Never Letting Go (2008), The Ask and the Answer (2009), and Monsters of Men (2010). It is a series set on a dystopian Earth-like planet called New World, which human settlers from "Old World" colonised in the hope of starting a new life.

Todd Hewitt knows all too well the history of this plantation. Humanity quickly became engaged in a war with the local sentient species, the Spackle, who released germs that killed all of the women, half the men, and left every living, breathing thing that survived with a condition that causes their thoughts, fantasies, hopes and dreams to be broadcasted in a flood of information known as Noise. This Noise is an inescapable rush of pictures and words that you can't get away from, and it is ever-present and everywhere. Men, without comfort and with this newfound insanity, picked up a gun and ended the war.


Todd is the last boy in in Prentisstown, last settlement on the New World, sole surviving town of the war, largely because of its militaristic mayor. Though the war is over, humanity is far from saved-indeed, with no women to repopulate, humanity is going to die a slow death here, in this small place with a population of "146 men and one almost-man", Todd Hewitt is the only one who has yet to become a man. Men don't associate with boys, and so Todd is alone for the final month leading up to the important occasion, with only Manchee, the dog he never wanted, for company.

One day, while avoiding the Noise in the outskirts of town, he makes a discovery. An important discovery, something world changing, something that simply cannot be: silence—a hole in the Noise. In minutes, everything changes. The world he trusted is turned upside down, and he is forced out of his home to flee from Prentisstown with an army at his heels.


Three short stories are available online for free: "The New World" (a prequel, meant to be read after book 1), "The Wide, Wide Sea" (another prequel, meant to be read after book 2), and "Snowscape" (set after book 3).

All three books were shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, with Monsters of Men winning it in 2011. It was also the second Young Adult novel ever to be shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke science fiction award. In late 2011, Lionsgate bought the rights to bring the trilogy to the big screen.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Viola after Taking a Level in Badass.
  • Action Survivor: Played with regarding Lee.
  • Affably Evil: Mayor Prentiss is a genuinely nice guy to Todd, whom he considers a son, but he treats his real son like garbage, and kills him the instant he starts to wriggle out of his father's control. The Mayor also does a great job justifying most of the horrible things he does, one notable exception is killing all the women in Prentisstown, which he never adequately explains.
    • The Mayor seems to be a deconstruction of this, because of the way the final book actually ends, which has him killing himself for Todd and the good of the world, having realized what a terrible person he is.
  • After-Action Patch-Up: Frequently.
  • Always Save the Girl: Viola and Todd are like this concerning each other. It leads to the question of whether saving the person you love is more important than the lives of thousands of other people.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Answer.
  • Animal Assassin: Manchee. He protects Todd every chance he gets, even going after a guy with a machete in Farbranch. And Aaron at least three times, but this ends in Aaron snapping his neck.
    • Also Angharrad, Todd's horse in Monsters of Men, who he will not leave to die because he cannot face losing her as he lost Manchee. Angharrad saves Viola when a half-crazed 1017, bent on revenge, attacks her with a knife.
  • Anyone Can Die: And HOW.
    • For the record, those who do not make it to the end of the series are Cillian, Manchee, Aaron, Maddie, Mr. Hammar, Ivan Farrow, Simone, Davy, Mayor Prentiss and Mistress Coyle to name a few.
  • Apologises a Lot: Manchee, after Matthew Lyle hacks off half his tail in a fit of Machete Mayhem.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Mayor Prentiss to Davy. Really, they don't even like each other.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: A fairly creepy version crops up at the end of The Ask and the Answer. Todd has the Mayor tied up and at his mercy, but does nothing to him. To be fair, the Mayor is a bit distracted. But that doesn't make it any less creepy.
  • Armchair Military: Mayor Prentiss for the first book and most of the second. He gets out of the armchair in the third book because things are that bad.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Todd and Viola finally kiss in Monsters of Men. Viola risks her life for Todd's several times, the first being on the bridge. Throughout the rest of the books, they're always saving each other.
  • The Barnum: Mayor Prentiss.
  • The Baroness: Mistress Coyle.
  • Badass Preacher: Aaron. He slaps people around for the hell of it. And has a staff.
  • Baddie Flattery: Mayor Prentiss constantly praises Todd for being "humble" and "a good son" and all that. He calls Todd the "truer son" right before he shoots Davy.
  • Battle Couple: Todd and Viola.
  • Beast of Battle: The Spackle ride what are called "battlemores". Which are basically alien rhinos.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Viola and Todd both have this when the other is in trouble, to the point that Viola fires a huge missile towards the Spackle and involves a fourth party in the war to save Todd's life.
    • The Mayor seems to lack one until Ben arrives towards the very end of Monsters of Men and Todd is reminded that he already has a father. It doesn't help that Todd tells him there was never a choice to be made.
    • Todd will instantly flare up if you even mention the fact that he never learned to read.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: Happens several times: the battle in Farbranch, the Spackle mutiny, and the bloody war against the Spackle in Monsters of Men. A common motif in this series.
  • Big, Bulky Bomb: The Answer, especially when they blow up the signal tower and they launch a Thrace bomb into the monastery where Todd is working.
    • The scout ship from Monsters of Men brings more of this. There are chapters revolving around Big Bulky Bombs, usually accompanied by a large BOOM!
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Mayor is dead, the convoy is landing, and peace has been reached with the Spackle. But most of Haven's been destroyed, thousands are dead, and Todd's in a coma.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Humans. On New World, men broadcast their thoughts to everyone around them, women emit silence. Humans are the only species to do so.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Todd has the Mayor tied up right there and doesn't do a thing about it. Instead, he bargains with the guy! Justified as Todd's actions reflect the moral gray area the author has been trying to get at. Do desperate times really call for desperate measures, or are they when we most need to uphold our morals?
  • Break the Cutie: Todd gets his first taste of killing when he attacks a Spackle on the basis that its species "killed all the women" and consequently freaks out and pukes. Viola gets this twice: once when her scout ship crashes, killing her parents and when she stabs Aaron to death in the waterfall church and throws up.
    • Every main character gets a moment of this. Even minor characters display this trope at points, especially in the last two books.
    • for Manchee this trope is very literal.
    • At the end of Monsters of Men Todd is nearly killed by 1017 just as the Mayor finally dies. Poor, poor, Viola...
  • Bling of War: The Office of the Ask requires pretty shiny uniforms that have an 'A' pinned to the chest. It, too, is shiny. Toward the beginning of Monsters of Men, one of the Mayor's officers brings him his general's uniform from the Spackle War and he gloats over it.
  • Book Dumb: Todd is almost completely illiterate. This acts as a Berserk Button for him; every time anyone offers to read something for him, he gets unreasonably angry.
  • Boom Stick: The Spackle wielded simple, primitive weaponry when humanity first fought them. These days, they've got rifles (described repeatedly as 'white sticks') that fire acid.
  • Bury Your Gays: Cillian is one of the first people to die in the series.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Oh, Aaron does. Todd finds this out several times.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Inverted with Viola. But it turns out that she didn't drink beer at all...
  • Catchphrase: Among others, "I am the Circle and the Circle is me," "TODD HEWITT," "God hears," and "I am not your enemy". However, most of those are Aaron's teachings.
  • Challenging the Chief: Todd does this before tying the Mayor up and threatening him. Come to think of it, Viola does, too, after Mistress Coyle abandons her in the house of healing.
  • Chastity Couple: Todd and Viola. There is one kiss in the entire trilogy. Slightly justified by the fact that it's a book aimed at young adults and they're both about 14.
  • A Chat with Satan: Happens when the Mayor tells Todd that he has the capability to be as cruel as he is.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The knife. All Todd says is that he wants it, and it ends up being the entire first book. Also, in the prequel The New World, Viola's friend Bradley gives her a campfire box which she uses to blow up a bridge.
  • Childless Dystopia: New World. Because all the women in Prentisstown are dead, there hasn't been a child there in 13 years—not since the main character Todd was born.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Todd employs this a lot, usually denoted by "and do you think I said eff?" Contrast with Viola's Precision F-Strike in The Knife of Never Letting Go.
  • Comatose Canary: Todd. He hears Viola's voice and the end of Monsters of Men is him talking. In his mind.
  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: Aaron, looking for Todd and Viola. They're hiding in a church behind a waterfall.
  • Compelling Voice: The Mayor has one. Doesn't exactly help that he can control people using his Noise, either.
  • Corrupt Church: No one's listening to Aaron; they're all praying for help or deliverance. Nice going.
  • Creepy Cathedral: The Mayor lives in one in New Prentisstown.
  • Creepy Cleanliness: The Mayor is nearly always in pristine white clothing because he's never on the front lines himself. He's also pretty Straight Edge Evil.
  • Dark Messiah: Aaron. He says he's a saint right before Todd punches him a lot and Viola stabs him through the neck.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Todd and Viola. Also Corrine, to an extent, but she's more of an example of My Parents Are Dead.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Cillian, the tough-love dad.
  • Declaration of Protection: Todd to Viola. He spends a good deal of time threatening to kill anyone who dares look at her wrong. Also, works in reverse.
  • Definitely Just a Cold: After the band on her arm makes her ill, Viola hides her illness from Todd even though she's been told the infection is fatal. She tells him its sleep deprivation and when he asks her specifically about it, she admits that she's not feeling well but that she's fine.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Happens a lot in this series. Viola, at first, reacts to everything she sees in Todd's Noise. Subverted with Todd and the Mayor, whose noise is nearly always unhearable. Todd reacts to what he thinks is in the Mayor's head.
    • It also happens with Bradley, who arrives in the scout ship and develops the Noise for the first time.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: The Mayor invites both Todd and Viola to dinner. He cancels just in time to begin a war.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Viola stabs Aaron in the waterfall church, but only after Todd hits him a lot.
  • Dirty Mind-Reading: Viola accidentally catches a rather racy daydream in Lee's Noise involving her.
  • Divided We Fall: If one of us falls, we all fall.
  • Disappeared Dad: Ben, for most of the series. He comes back in Monsters of Men, though.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: This happens to Todd after he contracts an infection from his knife, which is coated in Spackle blood. The world is all wavy and orange and yellow for a bit. He also hallucinates Aaron and Viola and the Spackle he killed.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Manchee, who takes Aaron's nose off. He doesn't just bite it, he bites it o-f-f, bites it off!
  • Do I Really Sound Like That?: Todd asks Viola to do a Prentisstown accent and says that he doesn't sound like that.
  • Doomed Hometown: Prentisstown and Farbranch.
  • Easily Conquered World: The citizens of New World hardly put up a fight once the Mayor's army starts marching. Those who do get steamrolled, those who don't join the army.
  • Emotionless Girl: Viola, in her non-talking phase. Shortly after she does begin speaking, she has a Did You Think I Can't Feel? moment and spurns Todd for thinking that she can't hear his Noise.
  • Emotion Suppression: The more time Todd spends around the Mayor, the more time he learns to "quiet" his Noise. In reality, what he's quieting is his own emotions. Even Viola notices at one point that she feels a flicker of emotion in his Noise and then nothing as he "quiets" it.
  • Enemy Mine: The Mayor's forces and the Answer join together to promote peace among them and the Spackle. Too bad it doesn't go well.
  • The Evils of Free Will: The Mayor's entire philosophy. He uses More Than Mind Control to achieve his ends a lot of the time.
  • Everyone Can See It: Everyone has commented on Todd and Viola's relationship at least once, though they don't resolve much of anything until Monsters of Men.
  • Eye Scream: Lee's eyes get burned out in Monsters of Men.
  • Fatal Flaw: Todd and Viola's love for each other. Todd is unable to kill, much less do anything that would cause him to "lose her".
    • By the end of the second book, that same flaw turns into their greatest strength.
      Viola: The Mayor’s wrong-
      He’s wrong forever and ever-
      It’s not that you should never love something so much it can control you.
      It’s that you need to love something that much so you can never be controlled.
      • Except now it just means that they're both willing to do terrible things in the name of the other. Example: Viola admits that she would have been willing to commit genocide against the Spackle if it meant saving Todd.
  • First-Name Basis: Todd and Davy. At first, Todd is taken aback when Davy calls him "Todd" instead of "pigpiss", but gets used to it.
    • The Mayor ("Call me David") attempts to be on this with Todd. Never sticks.
    • Ditto the Mayor and Viola. The Mayor calls Viola by her first name, which upsets Todd, but Viola refuses to ever call him by his.
  • Fisher King: The Mayor lives in a freakin' PALACE.
  • Forced to Watch: Todd is forced to watch Viola being tortured for answers. He doesn't take it well.
  • Get It Over With: Todd tells Aaron to do this when he's lying in the mud right before Aaron stabs him and takes Viola.
  • A God Am I: In the scene in the waterfall church, Aaron comes out and says that he is a saint. However, we know that Aaron is, in fact, delusional and is Drunk with Power.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: "There are no sides, my girl." No one is completely good or completely evil.
  • Has Two Daddies: Todd has two fathers in Ben and Cillian. Patrick Ness has stated in interviews that Ben and Cillian were gay.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Ivan always goes to the side that has more power.
  • Heroic BSoD: After Ben gets shot, Todd realizes he has nothing left; he is then snapped out of it by Viola.
  • The Hero's Birthday: Though it doesn't start on his actual birthday, the catalyst for the series is Todd's approaching 13th birthday, at which time he'll be considered a man.
    • Though as Viola points out, it's sort of an arbitrary thing...since New World years are slightly longer than Old World years, he's already 13. In fact, he's 14.
  • Hive Mind: While capable of independent thought, action, and emotion, The Land consider themselves to be part of a greater whole with shared access to the knowledge, memories, and sight of each other. Because of this, any given individual is simply referred to as "The Land", with a few exceptions (e.g. The Sky, The Return).
  • Hive Queen: The Sky is the leader of The Land, and as such is considered a separate individual. S/he's charged with making decisions for The Land, and can go so far as to force them into action against their better judgment. Naturally, this can cause problems.
  • Holy Hitman: Aaron.
  • I Can Still Fight!: Viola has this attitude even though she is suffering a fatal infection caused by an identification band on her arm.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Given that Prentisstown was a Crapsack World, New Prentisstown must be better!
  • I Have No Son!: Subverted, because the Mayor freely acknowledges that he killed Davy and possibly regrets it. He is convinced, though, that Todd will become his true son in all but name.
  • I Have Your Wife: The Mayor often threatens Viola's safety to get Todd to do what he wants.
  • I Lied: The Mayor does this quite often and seems kind of happy about it.
  • I'll Kill You!: For a guy who can't stomach death very well, Todd sure does spend an awful lot of time threatening to kill someone or other. To be fair, he usually only threatens death (and slow, painful death at that) when someone threatens Viola.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: Happens when Todd tells the Mayor when and where the attack will be.
  • Implacable Man: Aaron, getting eaten by a crocodile? Drowning in the swamp? No, it takes a knife through the neck and falling off a waterfall to finally kill him.
  • Improbable Age: The entire premise of the book fits into this, but it's explicitly stated at one point that the adults expect Viola and Todd to run the New World once the war is over. They're 14.
    • It is partially justified in-universe that the threshold for adulthood is much lower, which may have been the result of the original settlers needing more workers. Viola and Todd meet a four-year-old boy whose father asks him to milk the goats. Viola thinks this is odd...he's too young to be milking goats by himself. Todd points out that it's not that unusual in the New World. But to readers, the extreme responsibility shoved onto two young teenagers is a little weird.
    • Also, the years are longer there, so Todd, at least, is older than 14, though not by much.
  • Info Dump: Can't help it in Noise, can ya? This happens after Todd comes back from the swamp, thinking about the patch of silence there, which starts this whole war process rolling.
  • It's Personal: Todd, when Aaron comes after him and kidnaps Viola. Also a little bit of when Todd is chasing him down.
  • Jerkass: The Mayor, Mistress Coyle and Davy come to mind as well as Viola and Todd at times.
  • Kick the Dog: Aaron and the Mayor, and to an extent, Davy; he later does an almost complete Heel–Face Turn when he realizes that he and Todd are Vitriolic Best Buds. Also both Aaron and Davy kick Manchee in the face.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Aaron and Mayor Prentiss.
  • Knife Nut: Todd, but only for the first book; the knife goes over the waterfall, stuck in Aaron's neck.
  • Last Villain Stand: Mayor Prentiss' death. Mistress Coyle's as well.
  • Left Hanging: How Monsters of Men ends. We have no idea if Todd ever comes out of his coma.
    • Snowscape answers this questions. He does.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Todd and Viola to each other, though it's played in a positive rather than a negative way.
  • Love Is a Weakness: The Mayor, after figuring out Viola is Todd's weakness, tells him never to love something so much it can be used to control you.
  • Love Triangle: Todd, Viola, and Lee.
  • Machete Mayhem: Let's have an honorable mention for Matthew Lyle!
  • Manipulative Bastard: The Mayor is this trope.
    • And the trope is him!
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Davy Prentiss, Jr.
  • More Hypnotizable Than He Thinks: Todd, during his time with the Mayor.
  • The Mutiny: First starts in New Elizabeth, which is now Prentisstown, when the women tried to escape. Happens again in New Prentisstown, but no one knows what to do. Except Todd, who organizes a team to go after the Mayor.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: This is Todd's reaction after he kills a Spackle in the first book. Viola has a similar reaction after she kills Aaron.
  • My Parents Are Dead: Viola's parents died in the crash that landed her in the swamp. And Todd, to a degree; his mom is dead, and Cillian dies protecting the farm. Ben is MIA, supposedly dead. Until the end of Monsters of Men; he's alive and a Berserk Button for the Mayor.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Todd uses this a lot.
  • Non-Human Sidekick:
    • Manchee
    • Angharrad and Acorn in Monsters of Men, too.
  • Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: Aaron. As stated above, it takes a knife through the neck and a drop from a waterfall that's God knows how high up to kill him.
  • Not So Different: The Mayor explains at the end of Monsters of Men that Todd has the potential to be as powerful and as cruel as he is, but he knows that Todd will make a different choice.
  • Not Quite Human: The Spackle look like distorted men and grow lichen on their bodies in place of clothes.
  • No Woman's Land: Prentisstown. The Mayor set off a Depopulation Bomb and committed Gendercide.
  • Offing the Offspring: The Mayor does this to his son.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: In the end, the Mayor wants the world to be silent.
  • The Only One I Trust: Viola and Todd trust each other completely without question, but do not trust anyone else.
  • Our Aliens Are Different: The Spackle aren't out to kill anyone until the events of The Ask and the Answer take place. The Noise germ was just out in the air.
  • Pet the Dog / Kick the Dog: So many time by both Mayor Prentiss and Mistress Coyle. With Todd and Viola being the dog, respectively. The last two books seems to be a massive competition between the two of them repeatedly blowing the dog up, picking up the pieces, petting them back into shape, and kicking them again. However, this does play off as major character development on the Mayor and Mistress's part.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Davy seems to like doing this; he attacks Todd this way, as well as the Spackle in the monastery. Todd also uses his rifle to hit the Mayor in the ear after the Spackle attack the water tank.
  • The Plague: The Noise germ. Haven had developed a cure for it, but the Mayor burned it all.
  • Poison-and-Cure Gambit: It's reveal that the Mayor poisoned the bands used to identify the Spackle and the women of New Prentisstown. Unfortunately, these bands start an infection that cannot be stopped and the bands are designed to grow into the skin, meaning they cannot be removed without the patient bleeding to death. Miraculously, he "finds a cure" just after he wins popularity as president. He doesn't charge for it, but it's implied that he's using it as a publicity stunt.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Todd's knife after he kills the Spackle and gets stabbed with the same knife.
  • The Power of Love: Whenever Todd wants to hurt the crazed Mayor with his noise, he winds up his emotions and hits him with Viola's name.
  • Precious Puppies: Manchee. He licks Todd's face when he knows Todd is feeling down and goes to great lengths to protect him.
  • Precision F-Strike: From Viola to Todd, towards the end of Book 1. Particularly unexpected because of how many times the phrase 'effing' has been used up until then.
  • Pursued Protagonist: Todd. Often pursued by the Mayor on Morpeth, along with a whole army in the first book.
  • Rage Quit: First with Mistress Coyle's bomb for the Mayor after she knew she lost, and then the Mayor after he knew he lost Todd to Ben.
  • Rasputinian Death: Aaron only dies after being mauled by a crocodile and having half his face torn out, punched repeatedly by Todd, stabbed through the throat by Viola, and pushed off a waterfall.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Todd is the last boy in Prentisstown. Just why is he being chased? To become a man there, you must kill someone. Todd is unable to kill anyone. The Mayor says in Monsters of Men that until a boy experiences war, he is still a child.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Todd and Viola.
  • Riddle for the Ages: We never learn the full story of what happened to the women of Prentisstown—only snippets of Gendercide and accounts from unreliable narrators.
  • Romantic False Lead: Lee.
  • Saying Too Much: Todd can't help it in the beginning, nor when Viola is being Asked. He gives a piece of vital information to try and save her. Never mind that Viola told him that in the first place... And Manchee, too; he burbles on and on, and sometimes things come out.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!!: President Prentiss. Sneaky, underhanded bastard.
  • Secret Weapon: Todd thinks that the Mayor is making one of these in The Knife of Never Letting Go. He'd be right. The Mayor is able to control his Noise and that of others. Oh, and he's been making bombs as well.
  • Selective Slaughter: In the Mayor's case, it was Gendercide.
  • Sense Loss Sadness: With a twist. When Todd learns to quiet his Noise, it's not him who is upset. It's Viola. She's worried because she can't read him like she used to. This is made even more worrisome for her because the more time Todd spends around the Mayor, the more his personality changes. She worries at one point that "her Todd" is gone.
  • Ship Tease: Viola and Todd, constantly. It's actually rather odd to have such an intense romantic subplot in a young adult series, and especially one that is as teased to death as this one.
  • Sinister Minister: Aaron. Up to Eleven.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Todd. "The effs, Todd? And the geedees? God hears..."
  • The Sociopath:
    • Davy begins as this.
    • Viola can come off as this at her worst moments most notably choosing to bomb the Spackle and include a fourth party in the war. Justified considering her age and situation.
  • Space Amish: The first settlers try this - they left Earth for a simpler, more religious life, which explains their primitive technology level for a sci-fi set on another planet. And then they get into a few wars. But the intention was there.
  • Smug Snake: Ivan.
  • Still the Leader: Todd. He picks up the slack where Davy leaves it, and ends up heading a bounty-hunting party for the Mayor on his own time.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: What happens throughout the second and third books.
  • Someone Has to Die: Manchee, when Aaron rips him in half. Followed almost immediately by Todd's Big "NO!". Well, he was extraordinarily loyal to Todd, even though he didn't want Manchee. Also a Right-Hand Attack Dog and the requisite Talking Animal.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Viola. At the outset, she seems to have no feelings whatsoever. However, when Todd thinks she isn't able to hear him, she gives him the silent treatment.
  • Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: The Mayor, having gone completely insane from being able to hear EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME, decides that he'd rather not have to hear anything anymore... but makes sure to set everything on fire and order his army to destroy what remains of the Answer and set what remains of his army up to be destroyed by the Spackle before he goes.
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: Frequently.
  • Taking Over the Town: Mayor Prentiss, bent on taking over the world, loves to do this. Prentisstown used to be called New Elizabeth before he took over. When he takes over Haven, he renames it New Prentisstown (which, not surprisingly, is not an improvement on the old Prentisstown).
  • Telepathic Spacemen: The Spackle, who evolved alongside the Noise and use it to propagate their Hive Mind.
  • That Liar Lies: Todd, mostly referring to the Mayor. Which is true; the Mayor is the Manipulative Bastard of the series...
  • They Have the Scent!: Right before Todd goes to find Viola again, Manchee claims to know where she is. Todd is skeptical at first, but Manchee is sure.
  • Thinking Out Loud: The omnipresent Noise, which is emitted by every living, non-plant thing on the plant, with the strange exception of human women, who emit silence instead. It can be suppressed though, either through medicine or mental discipline. And if you're sufficiently disciplined, you can use it in all sorts of ways: attack people with it, control minds, even broadcast knowledge, like the ability to read.
  • Time Bomb: One of The Answer's only forms of offensive power.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Viola. Once when she blows up the bridge, again when she zaps Davy, and several more times besides. For the explosion and electricity, she pulled apart her fire box and her ship signal.
  • The Tower: It's where Todd and Con Ledger end up living. And it smells; not exactly a bastion of strength. Considering it gets blown all to hell, really not an icon of strength.
  • Trigger Happy: Davy in the battle for Farbranch. Todd sees him firing his gun into the air "when there's nothing else for him to shoot". If you look at who his father is, it's not a big surprise.
  • Tsundere: Todd, when he first met Viola in the first book and when he started working with Davy in the second book. He's also rather deredere with Davy.
    • Viola too. A type B, rather.
  • *Twang* Hello: There are several variants: Aaron with his staff, Viola with her ship signal, the Spackle, the Mayor's Noise weapon, the Answer's Big Bulky Bombs, and Manchee.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: See The Mutiny, above. The Mayor does this to New Elizabeth, which results in a Depopulation Bomb and Gendercide.
  • Unbroken Vigil: Todd and Viola with each other at various points in the series.
  • Under New Management: See The Mutiny, above.
  • War Is Hell: It seems to be swinging this way, but it's more of a cautionary tool against war.
  • The War Room: A rather crappy version exists after the Mayor's palace gets blown up. There's a campfire in the middle, but the army's just laying around in there. For God's sake, it's almost its own town!
  • We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill: The settlers, upon discovering the Spackle and just generally being asshats, slaughter them and almost completely annihilate the species. They start fighting back in The Ask and the Answer, 1017 especially.
  • We Have Ways of Making You Talk: The point of the Mayor's Ask organization. They torture people suspected of helping the "terrorists." Viola is tortured at one point and comes away with two broken ankles and more.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Davy just wants his dad to like him. Oh well, at least he expresses pride in his son several times before shooting him.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: This questions comes up constantly for Todd in terms of fighting the Spackle.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Happens a lot in The Ask and the Answer.
  • Wicked Cultured: Mayor Prentiss. Mistress Coyle could also be an example.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Happens all the time with Todd and Viola.
  • Women Are Wiser: Played with regarding Mistress Coyle and the Answer, seemingly played straight Viola until Monsters of Men.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Todd, every time he loses Viola, who has the same Berserk Button.
    • The Mayor, once you find out just what exactly his problem is. He does a pretty good job of that world-destroying part, too— especially when he thinks he's lost Todd to Ben.
  • Yandere: Todd seems to be really threatening whenever Mayor Prentiss or anyone tries to question Viola. His face went blank when Viola "left" him. He also refers to Viola as "Good girl" or "That's my girl". He'd also "do anything" for the Mayor to keep Viola safe. To be fair, Viola acts the exact same way in terms of him.
    • The Mayor can be seen as this with Todd. Specifically, when Ben is involved.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Every time the Mayor says that Todd is Like a Son to Me, or even that he is proud of his actions, Todd usually follows up with denial and then just ignores it.


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