I’ve been thoroughly addicted to one trilogy in particular for the past few months and I am going to go all enthusiastic at you, internet, so be ready for this. It’s a young adult trilogy and I feel absolutely no shame in admitting it because it’s bloody fantastic and I wish more adults would read it because it’s stupidly, brilliantly, explosively good. I’ve tried to read it as slowly as I could to savour the characters and the plot but it hasn’t felt like long enough. Oh you guys you guys YOU GUYS I am sitting here doing hearts with my hands at the screen in trying to put into words how much I’ve loved reading this.
Ladies and gentlemen, adults and young adults and everyone in between, I present to you:
The Chaos Walking trilogy.
You must have heard of this because lots of other people over the months have looked at me when I have mentioned this and done similar heart motions with their hands as we try to communicate our love for these books in a language that FAILS because we have no NOISE.* This is a thing, a thing that is popular and the winner of awards (but not nearly enough). I will now try to explain why I love this. I fail at this on the shop floor a lot because the concept’s a bit ?! but all the best concepts ARE a bit ?!, especially in the sci fi/fantastical/speculative fiction categories, so this should not put you off, no it should not!
The first book, The Knife Of Never Letting Go, has a terrible title but was one of the most excruciatingly brilliant reading experiences of my life because I usually hate present tense first person books but Mr. Patrick Ness did something genius with this and I fell in love with Todd and his totally realistic attitude that made him feel like a real person on the other side of the page. It’s oddly abrupt, the style that Ness uses for this trilogy, but it works and gives the story such a cinematic and exciting quality that it had me tearing through the book because oh my god they were in such danger and there were things happening, big horrible world-changing things –
And at any moment –
Something terrible could happen –
Someone might get hurt –
And oh but you care for those characters** –
It’s an exhausting way to read a book, you know. Bloody awesome, if you’ll excuse my language, but exhausting. You feel like you’ve run all the way through those gut-wrenchingly tough battle scenes and emotional arguments with Todd and the others and it’s just so, so visceral and true and tangible and even though it should start having less impact the further through the trilogy you go, it doesn’t, because the tension remains racked up and you’re never quite sure who’s going to make it and who isn’t.
But what’s it about, I hear you ask? Here’s the blurb from Knife:
This is an unflinching novel about the impossible choices of growing up, by an award-winning writer. Imagine you’re the only boy in a town of men. And you can hear everything they think. And they can hear everything you think. Imagine you don’t fit in with their plans… Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run…
Which, you know, doesn’t tell you much. Some of the joy of this series comes from the mystery of it, the whys and the wherefores and uncovering the secrets along with Todd and his marvellous, marvellous dog Manchee. So I shall not say more, but it’s wonderfully intricate and dark and as psychological as it is otherworldly (not supernatural, no). And it’s TOTALLY an adult-suitable book. TOTALLY. It fires me up something fierce that I can’t really stock it in my sci fi section in the shop, because it’s easily as strong as everything else there. I love the messages Ness has bound up with the characters and their choices and the relationships and it’s just so good I actually hugged the books when I finished them, yes I did.
I love it more than the Hunger Games books, which have adult covers and are sold in the general fiction section like the Harry Potter books. I love it a lot more. I cried with sadness and relief while reading Chaos Walking, not so much during the Hunger Games, although both deal with the cruelty of adults to children and their fellow living creatures so if you found the Hunger Games as addictive as I did, you will get on so well with Chaos Walking. It’s The Chrysalids meets The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn meets a whole new level of originality and freshness that just sets itself apart from so much else that’s out there.
Adults, read this, it is tremendous and if I’d read this as a child I feel like I would’ve been a better person.
And you know, the books are not perfect, but I have Strong Feelings in favour of Chaos Walking and this is totally not a review, this is something more like an enthusiastic hand-waving flail of delight from someone who has no vested interest in this, just a massive surge of affection for a trilogy that moved me so much it was like Ness was just tugging my heartstrings like an expert puppeteer. And now it’s over. I have no more of it to read. I want to start it for the first time again. Argh. ARGH.
So, yes. I quite enjoyed that.
*I am the Circle and the Circle is me.
**And animals. Boy colt? SUBMIT.