by Allana Luta
Imagine living in a world where every thought you have is broadcast into the world and can be heard and seen by everyone around you, and you theirs. There would be no such thing as secrets or surprises or privacy, only noise, constant and intruding. That is the premise of the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. Set in a world where all living creatures can “hear” each other’s thoughts, the protagonist Todd Hewitt discovers a spot without noise and his life is changed forever.
The trilogy consists of The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, and Monsters of Men. Like a lot of post-apocalyptic young adult novels, it starts out with something small, one thing out of place from the character’s usual day-to-day life. In Todd’s case, it’s a vacuum without noise, a phenomenon he’s never experienced before. From there, the story progresses and quickly escalates into a massive issue, one that is beyond the protagonist but ultimately places them in the center of it. In Todd and, his love interest, Viola’s case, it’s war.
There are so many reasons to love the series but here are just a few of mine (without getting too spoiler-y):
- The plot is fast-paced and exciting. Todd and Viola are always running away from something (especially in the first book) or are fighting against someone and Patrick Ness has this way of ending each chapter on a cliff hanger that you can’t help but continue to the next. If you’re like me and tire easily, as if you’re running along with the characters on the page, you might need to put the book down a few times before moving on. But it won’t be long before you pick up where you left off.
- The villain(s). They’re not so much villains as they are adults who believe in their own truth and will do anything to achieve their goals, even if that means sacrificing a few lives here and there. There’s power struggle between two camps that believe in different values but want the same thing in the end. Todd and Viola’s trust are constantly being tested by these “adults” who supposedly know better but have ulterior motives.
- Slow burn. Because this is a young adult novel, of course there is romance, and the good kind. And it’s believable, too. Patrick Ness writes it in a way that seems organic despite blossoming in the middle of a war.
- The pet animals. Oh my goodness. Humans can also hear animals’ thoughts, which brings a whole new level of heartbreak when they suffer. Just imagine what it’s like reading Hedwig’s last thoughts right before she got hit by the killing curse. Oof.
- And lastly, my gay dads Ben and Cillian. Patrick Ness doesn’t say outright that they’re together in the first book but if it isn’t obvious enough, you’ll get it by the time you get to Monster of Men.
I remember seeing for the first time when I was still a poor college student and promising to buy it once I saved up enough money from my allowance. It only took me, uh, 10 years before I bought the complete set, but it must be fate because the book is being made into a film set to release next year. It stars the newest Spiderman Tom Holland as Todd, and Star Wars heroine Daisy Ridley as Viola Eade. The casting surprised me a bit because Todd and Viola were supposed to be in their teens (around 16 to 18 years old in the books, I think) and Tom and Daisy seem just a tad bit too old to play them. But we’ll see. What I’m really excited for is Mads Mikkelsen playing Mayor Prentiss, the villain in the story. If you read the books, you’ll know just how perfect Mads is for the role.
The movie is set to be released in 2019 so you still have six months left to get up to speed. But even without the film adaptation, the series is highly recommended anyway. ☁️