“Chaos Walking” Trilogy by Patrick Ness

I wanted to wait to review this series until I had finished all three in the triology. Sadly, that just was not meant to happen:
This was my second jump into anything by Patrick Ness. (The first being “A Monster Calls” which I also review on this blog)
The first two installments of this series do not disappoint.
The thing that I loved most about his writing is that it tells a story. The story-telling skill is very strong in his writing.
I came across Monsters of Men (Book Three) at my local Half-Price books during their black Friday sale. I hadn’t realized until it came home with me that it was a part of a trilogy and the last book of it no less.
When my husband and I made a Saturday event of spending time at our public library, I sought out books one and two. Upon finding them, I checked them out and found a comfortable chair to sit in.
Book one carried me through to page 295 before my husband asked if I was ready to leave the library.
I started my book notes from that point to the end.
Notes on Book One: “The Knife of Never Letting Go”
Spoiler Alert: There are a few spoilers contained in the 73%, 98% and the 96% notations.
52.0% “I LOVE Manchee!” page 295
61.0% “Manchee is such a good dog!” page 353
73.0%”NO! Manchee! I refuse to accept this. That poor loyal, sweet, beautiful animal. Shame on Todd. Shame on him. I don’t care. I do not care. Manchee led Todd to Viola and because of her, poor Manchee gets murdered. I know it is not her fault. She didn’t ask for it. She isn’t really to blame here. Aaron is. Senselessly. Shamefully. That is not right. It isn’t right and I am very sad right now. I need a moment. :(” page 378

78.0%”Every single time now that I see “Todd?” written, I keep hoping that somehow, someway, Manchee made it. i know he didn’t. I know. I just hope he did. I have never before felt such an affinity to a fictional dog. At least, not since Wishbone and he didn’t die…and Old Yeller doesn’t count, because I saw the movie, I didn’t read his adventures. Sad.” page 401

83.0% “*stunned* Wow. Now that was a twist that prior to a few sentences ahead of time, I did not see coming at all.” page 464

96.0%”What a scene. Good on Viola for not letting Aaron win against Todd like that.”

99.0% “Finished with book one. Reading the short story at the end.”

 

As you can clearly see I may have felt a strong affinity to Manchee.

This story was compelling.

I enjoyed the writing style. I am sure there are some readers that found it distracting or annoying, however, it fit the story element and that’s important. The choice of writing this way was intentional to show how Todd was lacking in education. It worked well I thought. Some may disagree.

The short story at the end wasn’t as page-turning for whatever reason, maybe since I was still living in the aftermath of what all had just occurred to be pulled into prior events leading up to the story beginning, but it was worth a read to get some backstory on Viola.

Book Two opened with Viola badly injured and Todd hasn’t seen or heard from her. The self-appointed “President Prentiss” hasn’t allowed them to see each other. He splits the women from the men, the Spacks from the humans, and the haves from the have-nots basically.

A mind-game power play happens through the first third of the book. An unforeseen death occurs which Viola feels responsible for. The town is very uneasy under their new “leader”.

Viola tries to help out the healers. Todd is roped into working with Davy and branding the Spacks.

Then the bombings begin.

Notes on Book Two: “The Ask and The Answer”

3.0% “Todd is a terrific character. He “ain’t” perfect, but he has an amazing heart. Visualizing him being broken like this, which is a testament to the writing, is moving. The detail is incredible.” page 21
8.0% “President Prentiss is clever. That is a military tactic he is using. I’m surprised others besides Todd don’t realize.” page 48
19.0% “It is great to get into the head-space of Viola a bit in this one. I feel like in the first book, we didn’t really get to know her as well and now we can. What a terrible way to be treating those poor Spacks!” page 102
27.0% “There some moments while reading this that I have actually felt my heart breaking in sympathy. This book is doing a great job of portraying fear of the unknown and how some people react to that fear.” page 149

42.0%”I had and do have a funny little feeling about what the “President” is doing tactically speaking here. It is a smart move, very callous, but clever…” page 229

56% “The way that the quiet are portrayed, from the Spacks to the women of the towns, are real to war situations in that the group tries to make enemies of those they don’t understand. Very moving and sad.” page 301

61.0%”I knew it! I knew it! I knew it! That bastard!” page 330

65% “*shakes head furiously* Knew this was coming. Knew it. Doesn’t make it any easier though.” page 347

Todd finds himself doing some things that he didn’t really think he would do. The way that the “President” forces Davy and Todd to work together is as smart as it is manipulative. This man knows his tactics. Not only is he playing psychical chess with these people, he is also playing psychologically with everyone as well.

It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that these books deal very heavily with what happens when those in power try to play games with the people they are “ruling”. The power struggles, the rebellions, the conditioned responses and feelings of powerlessness are all portrayed here in a way that shows more than it tells.

The Spacks are being abused and treated as little more than sheep. They are branded. Even when they co-operate, they aren’t fighting back, that isn’t good enough and Davy makes them suffer.

The women are being abused in all forms and many of the sick at one point not allowed to be healed. The women are quiet in a way too and this irks the President.

There is a quote used a few times “We are the choices we make” and I feel it is a fitting one for the themes covered in this sequel.

Just because you can’t hear them, they don’t talk like you do, they don’t speak your language, does *not* mean that you are superior, better, or that your life is worth more than theirs.

I truly believe this series should be required reading in schools. I don’t say that lightly either. I have never said that about a series before, but I really do think it should be. The series should be read by older teens for comprehension of the themes and also because the highly stylized writing may be confusing for younger readers building their vocab skills.

Filled with moments that tug on the heart-strings without being emo about it, this shows what is happening without telling you how you as a reader should feel about it.

And Oh! That ending!

For whatever reason, I really couldn’t get into the bonus story at the end of this one either. (I had the same problem with the short story of the first book too…and I definitely think it is that I am still in the “story” and swept up in that and can’t focus enough for the slow down and different pacing.) I would be interested if anyone else has read this series, or when they do, if anyone else had that same trouble with the bonus stories.

Notes on Book Three: “Monsters of Men”:

I adored, loved, and shouted to the rooftops really my love for the first two…but for whatever reason I just could NOT get into the final installment of this series. I was trying to ponder why exactly and the answer is I’m not sure. Maybe I just missed Manchee too much, perhaps I wasn’t digging the change of the alliances, could be I just wasn’t that into it anymore due to a small gap time in reading the first two. Who can say?

I can say that I felt bogged down in reading and felt like I had to slog my way through the first 80 pages before jumping ship.

The third one sadly was destined for the dreaded did not finish from my Goodreads account.

*shrug*

Can’t win ’em all I suppose.

 

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