“The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking.”
I hadn’t read any Patrick Ness before The Knife of Never Letting Go. I think it was suggested to me by Goodreads as something I might like – how right they were.
It is the first of the Chaos Walking trilogy and tells the story of Todd, a young man who lives in a community that consists only of men – he is the last to come of age, and is approaching his birthday. They live in a world where everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts, including animals, and the resulting sound is known as Noise. One day Todd finds an area of silence, which turns out to be a girl, Viola, whose thoughts cannot be heard. Together Todd and Viola must uncover the secrets of the world in which they live, facing formidable enemies along the way. There’s the sinister leader of Todd’s village, Mayor Prentiss, his obedient son Davy, and Aaron the town Preacher. Further into the series we find out more about the Spackle, the human-like native creatures of New World, and the mysterious resistance group known as The Ask.
I think what I liked most about this series was the fact that Todd never knows who to trust, despite the fact he can hear the Noise of all the men around him. Mayor Prentiss is a great character, somehow evil and caring at the same time, making Todd ever fearful of falling under his spell. I also liked the fact that The Ask, the group fighting against Prentiss, can be just as misguided in their principles as he is. There is no clear good or evil in this story, making Todd’s quest more difficult – all he wants is to find out the truth about his past, and live in a world where he doesn’t have to be afraid of what it means to be a grown up.
I feel like I raced through the final book, Monsters of Men, so I should probably read it again. I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened. I have since read 3 of Ness’s other novels, but these are easily the best. There are also 3 companion short stories that link to Chaos Walking, with the third in particular providing a nice round off to the series.
For those who’ve already read this, and for those who read it as a result of my review, you will be expecting me to mention perhaps the best character of the series – Todd’s dog Manchee. No review of Chaos Walking could be complete without at least mentioning him. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a fictional dog so much.