Chaos Walking: Patrick Ness's Science Fiction trilogy.
chaos walking cover
The Knife of Never Letting Go and Sequels
I stumbled on the Chaos Walking trilogy almost by accident, and it has been one of the best science fiction series I ever read. I had just finished The Hunger Games, which I liked , but which didn't make me an advertising zealot, and Amazon (dear, dear Amazon, how did I survive before you came into my life) suggested Patrick Ness's books to me. I think I picked the first book because the title, "The Knife of Never Letting Go" sounded intriguing.
Several sleep deprived days followed, when I read the three books, every free moment I had, and a few times when I really should have been reading something else. I found them impossible to put down. I then waited a few months and read them again, enjoying the story almost as much as I did the first time.
Science Fiction or Fantasy?
It is hard to classify the books, technically they are science fiction, they describe a time in the future, humanity has mastered time travel and gets energy from fission generators, but really it is more like a fantasy book. I guess it is also "teenager fiction", but is a lot more mature than say the Harry Potter books, which I enjoyed hugely while at the same time thinking they were overhyped. Patrick Ness has created a stunningly original dystopia, which at the same time is very believable; it all pretty much adds up, quite a rare feat.
Noise- the curse of New World
Our hero is Todd Hewitt, who aged 12 years and 12 months at the beginning of the book, is the last boy in the town of Prentisstown, and who will become a man in a month's time. His parents arrived on New World with a other colonists to start a new, better life and escape the corruption and sin of their home planet (Old World).
Soon after arrival the colonists' dreams turned to nightmare as they realised that the planet had endogenous inhabitants and war broke out. Before they were defeated and exterminated, the Spackle released a germ which killed all women, while infecting the men with "Noise". The Noise is all the men's thoughts, everybody thinks aloud, every man's thoughts can be heard by everybody else, there are no secrets. Living in the middle of everybody's thoughts is driving most people mad because "The Noise is a man unfiltered, and without a filter, a man is just chaos walking".
At least this is the story that Todd was told as he was growing up in Prentisstown.
One day as he is walking through the swamp outside the town, with his dog Manchee , he suddenly comes across a hole in the noise, a "quiet shape", this proves to be very dangerous, by the end of the day he's running away from Prentisstown and starting on a journey in which he finds out that most of the things he believed about New World and the people around him are, in fact, lies.
A Reading from "The Ask and the Answer"
Three Different Narrators
The first book is told entirely from Todd's point of view, in pretty idiosyncratic spelling, "petrol stayshun", "explanayshun". I found this a little bit grating at the beginning, but you quickly get used to it and in fact Todd's unique voice adds to the addictive immersive qualities of the stories. I must admit that the third book, probably worked less well, it seemed to me more derivative than the first two, but by then you are really hooked and want the story to resolve itself, so it doesn't seem so important.
The Chaos Walking trilogy is quite different from anything else that has been written, it is truly imaginative. If you hadn't read it yet, I am really jealous that you have that experience before you. Assuming you act on my recommendation and read it that is.
The Chaos Walking Movie
The books are being adapted to a movie by Lionsgate with Charlie Kaufman in charge of producing the screenplay. I am pretty intrigued to see how the issue of Noise will be dealt with in the movies.